Cop crash leads to lawsuit

Police captain rear-ended detective while they were off duty

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COEUR d'ALENE - A former Coeur d'Alene police detective is seeking financial compensation from the police captain who rear-ended the detective while both officers were off duty, resulting in injuries that ended the detective's law enforcement career.

Tracy L. Martin retired from the police department last Dec. 5 due to medical complications from the Feb. 1, 2011, accident on Kathleen Avenue near the police station.

According to the complaint and an Idaho State Police accident investigation report, police Capt. Mike S. Calderwood rear-ended Martin around 5:20 p.m. as the two were leaving the police station after work.

Martin, driving a 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe owned by the police department, was at a stop waiting for traffic when Calderwood, who was distracted by his cell phone, hit the back end of Martin's car.

"I was traveling (westbound) on Kathleen (avenue) approaching Ramsey," Calderwood wrote in a description of the accident for ISP records. "I looked down (at) my cell phone and collided with officer Martin."

The complaint was filed last week in First District Court by Martin and his wife, Sue Martin.

It seeks judgment in an amount to be proven at trial for pain, suffering, mental anguish, past and future disability, medical expenses and past and future lost wages, among other reasons.

The lawsuit doesn't name the police department.

Calderwood was traveling 30 mph in the 35 mph zone at the time of impact, according to the ISP investigation report. He was driving a 2008 Nissan Titan pickup, which he owned.

Martin, 48, told ISP trooper Holly Branch that he was not injured immediately after the two-vehicle wreck, according to the investigation report, but injuries persisted after the accident, according to the court complaint.

"Martin has lost his career as a police officer with the City of Coeur d'Alene, and is unable to work in any employment at this time," the complaint states. He "has had to suffer from severe physical pain and suffering ..."

According to the ISP report, Calderwood, 48, was not cited following the collision though he admitted he was distracted by his cell phone.

The complaint refers to Calderwood's driving as a "reckless and grossly negligent manner" that resulted in "great bodily injuries" for Martin.

Branch, the ISP trooper who investigated the accident, did not return two messages from The Press.

While the complaint refers to Calderwood, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, as a captain, he is now a lieutenant in the police department and in charge of internal investigations.

He was not punished by the department, police spokesperson Christie Wood said, because the accident occurred while Calderwood was off duty.

Martin's police vehicle suffered approximately $2,000 damage, while Calderwood's suffered roughly $8,000, according to ISP reports.

Martin was hired by the Coeur d'Alene Police Department July 20, 1998, according to city human resource records. The complaint states that Sue Martin lost "companionship, society and consortium with her husband" as a result of the accident.

Martin on Tuesday declined to comment on the case, referring questions to his attorney, Larry Beck, who could not be immediately reached for comment.

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