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Countersuit filed by cop in death of 6-year-old

Albuquerque Police Department officer Johnathan McDonnell

APD officer Johnathan McDonnell

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

An Albuquerque police officer involved in a high-profile on-duty crash that killed a 6-year-old boy has filed a counterclaim against the boy’s mother, alleging her negligence caused the wreck.

Joel Anthony Mumaw’s family sued the officer and the city in January, and on March 2, officer Jonathan McDonnell and his wife filed a counter complaint against the boy’s mother, Antoinette Suina, seeking damages.

The McDonnells say that as a result of the wreck, they “have suffered, and will continue to suffer mental anguish, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.”

McDonnell was traveling nearly 80 mph to a call for help around 6 p.m. on a Monday in April 2017 when his cruiser collided with Suina’s car as she turned left onto Indian School from southbound Eubank. The 6-year-old Joel Anthony later died in a hospital, and his 9-year-old sister suffered extensive injuries. McDonnell suffered extensive leg injuries and a bruised lung.

The counterclaim argues that Suina made the left-hand turn “without first ascertaining that this move could be made with safety,” and further, that she “failed to give way to an emergency vehicle in making this left-hand turn.”

“As a result (Suina’s) vehicle pulled directly into the path of (McDonnell’s) emergency vehicle,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that McDonnell was not negligently operating his cruiser.

Albuquerque police said McDonnell was responding to reports that a “male subject” with a machete was threatening someone at a Northeast Heights grocery store.

Meanwhile, Suina was driving to Hobby Lobby with her two young children in tow. She told investigators that she didn’t see anyone coming when she began to turn. She never heard sirens or noticed police lights, she said, and the first time she saw the officer’s unit was as it hit her car “where her children were sitting.”

Both drivers had green lights at the time of the wreck.

“It is my opinion that Officer McDonnell was operating his vehicle at a speed to (sic) fast for conditions at the time, however, Officer McDonnell was authorized to operate his vehicle in an emergency response,” a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy wrote in the crash investigation.

McDonnell had been disciplined in at least six prior driving-related incidents during his nine years with APD. According to internal police documents, McDonnell was previously disciplined in five preventable crashes and an unauthorized pursuit.

Mumaw’s family argued in their complaint that the city “turned a blind eye to (officer) McDonnell’s pattern of committing policy and law violations pertaining to vehicle crashes by failing to meaningfully discipline or retrain defendant McDonnell, or terminate him.”

Attorneys in the case could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Police eventually arrested 15-year-old Keisean Anderson in connection with the assault at the grocery store that McDonnell had been dispatched to that day. According to police, Anderson had pulled out a machete when confronted by Albertsons employees and later punched a store worker in the face.

McDonnell’s first name is spelled Johnathan in some references.

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