PONTIAC — The family of a woman killed when she was struck by a Pontiac Police Department squad car in August has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the department and the officer involved.
According to an Illinois State Police report, Rita Murphy, 55, was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle about 1:10 a.m. Aug. 21 on Historic Route 66 about 200 feet north of North Howard Street in Pontiac. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:58 a.m.
The lawsuit identifies the officer as Jace Koerner, who joined the department in June 2016.
Pontiac police previously declined to identify the officer, but told The (Bloomington) Pantagraph the officer was placed on “nondisciplinary, paid administrative leave” following the incident.
Pontiac police declined to comment on the pending lawsuit or Koerner’s current status.
Illinois State Police also declined to comment on the crash details, saying the investigation was continuing.
The suit seeks a minimum of $50,000 in damages on each of four counts involving negligence and/or willful and wanton conduct by the defendants.
The plaintiffs are listed as the estate of Rita Murphy, her husband, John, and her daughters, Megan Lanning and Kirsten Murphy. The suit seeks compensation for the grief, sorrow and mental suffering of the family.
Peoria attorney Jennifer Bonesteel is representing the plaintiffs.
The suit contends that Koerner was changing lanes and speeding at the time of the incident.
Murphy had been a legal secretary for a Pontiac law firm. She was a Pontiac native and 1979 Saunemin High School graduate.