CLEVELAND (WJW) – Jatin Popat says he was first alerted by his alarm company that his business was broken into early Thursday morning.
He then drove to the store, Star Value, on West 105th Street in Cleveland.
“I saw the police cruiser in the parking lot and thought, wow, they got here fast,” Popat said. He soon realized the store was not burglarized, but that the Linndale police cruiser slammed into the store.
Security video obtained by Nexstar’s WJW shows the crash. The video first shows a vehicle drive by the store, followed by a cruiser with the lights and sirens on. The cruiser appears to go over a curb and then slam into the store.
Linndale Police Chief Tim Franczak says the officer driving the cruiser is OK. He said the officer was trying to get a license plate of a vehicle that they thought may be stolen when the crash took place.
Popat said the chief came to the store and provided insurance information.
“I thought I would be covered but now I don’t know,” Popat said. “My lawyer got a letter that the insurance company is saying they are not going to pay, so I am not sure.”
He said the crash caused about $40,000 worth of damages to his store.
He added that an employee with his insurance company is saying the village is responsible for the damages, but insurance officials for the village are telling him the department has immunity.
Attorney Tom Merriman says, for the most part, the law protects state and local officials from liability when a member of the police department is operating a motor vehicle while responding to an emergency call.
“The store owner didn’t do anything wrong but the law is set up to protect police and fire departments so they can do their job,” Merriman said.
Merriman added that some cities and villages have a special fund to help cover these type of expenses.
The Linndale chief says he is not sure what village officials can do financially for the store owner since the matter was turned over to the insurance company. The chief, however, did say he will look into the matter.
“I do feel bad for the owner,” the chief said. “I have very little to say on this, but I am going to try.”
The store owner says he just wants to get his building fixed.
“I just want to get back to what it was,” Popat said. “I just want my shutters back up and the door fixed, that’s about it.”