POUGHKEEPSIE – The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has agreed with a lower court ruling that the City of Poughkeepsie and its police department should be removed from a wrongful death lawsuit.
On August 1, 2012, Poughkeepsie police officers attempted to pull over a vehicle driven by Ryan Floryan, who sped away. The police followed Floryan’s vehicle, which struck another car at a high rate of speed when Floryan went through a red light. The collision killed Shawn Wonderly and Patricia Wonderly and injured their two children.
Family members filed a wrongful death and injury lawsuit in the tragedy and named Poughkeepsie and its police department among the defendants.
In September 2016, State Supreme Court granted a motion from the city removing it from the suit and the family appealed to the appellate division.
The appellate decision, dated July 1, stated that to allege reckless disregard, it would require that the officer had “intentionally done an act of an unreasonable character in disregard of a known or obvious risk that was so great as to make it highly probable that hard would follow and has done so with conscious indifference to the outcome.”
The appeals court ruled that “the police officers did not act in reckless disregard for the safety of others in commencing, conducting, or failing to terminate their pursuit of Floryan’s vehicle prior to Floryan’s decision to abruptly accelerate his vehicle to an excessive speed and run through a red light.”
The court decision said that the officers “attempted nothing more dangerous than to activate their emergency lights and siren in an attempt to bring Floryan’s speeding vehicle to a safe stop at a red-light intersection.”
Floryan was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 6 ½ to 13 years in state prison.
He was eligible for parole in January 2019; that was denied and he is eligible for a second parole hearing in September 2020. His conditional release date is March 7, 2021 and his maximum sentence date is July 29, 2025.