What can you do if you are a police officer who has to confront someone
who is seemingly impaired and acting strangely? If that person has not
committed a crime, what responsibilities and rights do you have to do
something about it? That is the question now in the case of the tragic
accident that left a pregnant young woman in a vegetative state.
In the spring of 2010, Jack Whiteaker was reported by citizens for acting
erratically and appearing to be on drugs. A police officer, Devonna Dick,
was called to deal with the situation twice on the same day, but the officer
did not take any action other than to speak to Whiteaker. At the time,
Whiteaker had a suspended driver’s license and was on probation
(and being on drugs, which people who called him in thought he was, is
a probation violation). He also had his car parked in the vicinity. Still,
the officer did nothing, even though she knew he had his car, was on probation,
had a suspended license, and acted as if he were high. Not long after,
he drove his car and crashed into Cayla Wilson, the pregnant young woman.
Wilson was 5.5 months pregnant, and her baby was born a few weeks later.
Wilson remains in a vegetative state.
Wilson’s attorneys are planning to sue the police. They believe the
accident would have been prevented had the officer taken action and placed
Whiteaker in jail for probation violation or else to detox, since he seemed
to be on drugs.
No matter how you look at it, it is a tragic story. For more on this story, see