This Oakland police officer was caught on camera allegedly burning up this guy’s clutch, but can he sue for damages?
Oakland resident and Infiniti G35 owner Andrew Del Rio shared several videos on Tik Tok earlier last month showing an Oakland Police officer trying and failing to drive his car onto a tow truck.
His problem? It was a manual.
Check out Del Rio’s videos below and, in case they go blank, mirrors linked here.
In the first two videos we see the police officer attempting, at least twice, to smoothly engage the clutch so he can get the car moving in the right direction.
Witnesses around Del Rio mention “I can smell burning clutch!”
On the third video, we see Del Rio take matters into his own hands and maneuvers his own car onto the tow truck bed.
While the Oakland police officer probably knows how to drive a manual, this G35’s touchy clutch was probably a tad too sensitive.
This begs the question.
Can I sue a police officer for damaging my car if they drive it during police business?
The short answer is yes, you can sue a police officer if they damage your car.
The long answer is also yes, but it depends. The process of suing police for damages varies from state to state.
For example, in California, state and local police are classified as public entities.
Thanks to the California Tort Claims Act, public entities are “not liable for an injury caused by the public entity or any of its employees.”
This does not mean the public has no recourse for damages.
The CTCA sets out strict guidelines for you to file an official claim with deadlines depending on when the injury against you occurred.
Here, property damage to a car, Del Rio has up to a year to file.
The police, or any other public entity, will review the claim and either find in your favor and come up with a settlement you can both agree upon or reject your claim and offer you a “right to sue” letter.
You can then sue the police for damages through your local Civil or small claims court.
While you don’t need an attorney, retaining one who specializes in suing the police for property damage helps.
Also, documenting the damage as best you can and gathering all your evidence is important.
On top of all that, it would probably behoove you to speak to your insurance on alternative courses of action. They’ve probably seen similar cases like Del Rio’s (or yours before.)
If, after Del Rio picks up his G35, he finds his clutch completely burnt, with his video evidence, there’s little to lose filling a claim.
Beyond that, an informal cost-benefit analysis to decide if it’s worth pursing further would be up to Del Rio.