A 101-year-old woman killed in 2013 when a St. Paul police officer backed a squad into her is responsible for her own death, the City of St. Paul said in court documents.
Roza Sakhina was struck by officer Lori Lin Goulet on Aug. 16, 2013, and died five days later. Sakhina's family filed a wrongful death suit in January against Goulet and the city, alleging that Goulet acted in a "negligent manner so as to collide with Roza Sakhina, a pedestrian."
In its answer to the suit, the city attorney's office denied any negligence on Goulet's part.
"...Plaintiff's alleged injuries or damages were caused solely by reason of Roza Sakhina's own wrongdoing and/or misconduct, and not by reason of any alleged unlawful acts or omissions of these answering Defendants," the city's answer said. "...all actions taken by these answering Defendants were legal, reasonable, proper and necessary under the circumstances and authorized by the laws of the United States and the State of Minnesota."
Goulet was responding to a juvenile disturbance in the 800 block of S. Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul the day of the collision. A witness has said that Goulet was parked at an angle to the sidewalk while four other squads were parked parallel to the sidewalk.
Sakhina was crossing the street with the aid of a walker when Goulet backed the squad into her, the witness said. Sakhina lived in a public high-rise across the street from where the squads were parked, and was not crossing in a crosswalk at the time, the witness said.
The Ramsey County attorney's office reviewed the case and declined to file charges.
"Ultimately, we do not believe a crime was committed," county attorney spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein has said.
Goulet was involved in squad collisions in 1994, 1997, 1998 and 2007, according to personnel records. The first three were sideswiping collisions; two were deemed preventable. The 1997 incident was the result of inattention, the police department's Accident Review Board found. The 2007 incident, in which Goulet backed into another vehicle while clearing a call, was also due to inattention, the board found.
Sakhina immigrated to St. Paul in 1991 from Russia. Her family's suit is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.