A negligence lawsuit filed Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeks compensation over a deadly collision that took place during a 2020 Little Rock police pursuit.
The complaint was filed on behalf of the victim's wife, Sherry Franke, in her individual capacity and as the special administratrix of her late husband's estate, as well as the victim's grandson, Kalob Franke, who was reportedly injured in the crash.
The lawsuit names the city of Little Rock and two police officers, Devon Colclough and Shuhao Kou, who allegedly participated in the chase.
A similar lawsuit filed in 2020 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas was dismissed late last year.
Kenneth Franke, 46, of Russellville, died a week after a suspect fleeing police collided with his vehicle on North Rodney Parham Road on Aug. 21, 2020, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported at the time.
The pursuit began when police responded to a forgery call at a Centennial Bank located at 9712 N. Rodney Parham Road.
Timothy Dockery Jr., 24, was observed leaving the scene in his vehicle. He was killed in the same wreck after the pursuit, the Democrat-Gazette reported.
"Kenneth Franke was injured as an innocent bystander to a high-speed pursuit that occurred as a result of the Little Rock Police Department's decision to encourage high-speed pursuits for suspects of non-violent, property damage crimes," the complaint filed Tuesday says.
Colclough, the complaint says, "engaged in speeds in excess of 90 miles-per-hour down Reservoir Road and Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock, Arkansas, at approximately 5:30 p.m. on a Friday evening to attempt to apprehend someone suspected of attempting to deposit a forged check."
Kou, the complaint says, "failed to follow written protocol regarding emergency signals and calling radio traffic during the pursuit."
The complaint says that at one point, the suspect's vehicle slowed down and a passenger emerged from it and ran, but Colclough did not stop to apprehend the individual and instead continued the pursuit.
After Colclough called in the pursuit to dispatch, a supervisor communicating with her "did not advise Officer Colclough to terminate the pursuit under the circumstances," the complaint says. "The supervisor had a duty to and responsibility to either permit or terminate the pursuit. Factors to be considered were the seriousness of the criminal act involved, danger to the public and innocent bystanders and the safety of the Officers involved by continuing the pursuit."
Kenneth and Kalob Franke were hospitalized following the wreck; both remained in a coma for three days, the complaint says.
Kenneth Franke experienced a traumatic brain injury and left hip fracture; he died from his injuries after six days in the hospital, according to the complaint. Kalob Franke was treated for a head injury as well as a broken arm and femur, the complaint says.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for past and future medical expenses as well as other costs and expenses associated with Kalob Franke's injuries.
On behalf of Kenneth Franke's estate, the complaint seeks recovery of medical expenses, reasonable funeral expenses and compensation for his beneficiaries, among other things.
The plaintiffs are represented by Brandon Lacy of the Lacy Law Firm, which has offices in Fayetteville and Jonesboro.
When reached via email Wednesday, Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter said he had not seen the complaint yet.
Chief Deputy City Attorney Alex Betton wrote in an email that he had not seen the current iteration of the lawsuit. However, Betton provided a copy of a December 2021 summary-judgment order in which U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson dismissed claims filed by the same plaintiffs.
Wilson later denied a motion for reconsideration.
When asked if he believes the outcome will be different compared to the federal lawsuit, Lacy wrote in an email Wednesday, "It's the same lawsuit. The federal court dismissed the federal claims and when that happened it no longer had jurisdiction over the state claims, so they were dismissed from federal court without prejudice, meaning that we can pursue them in state court. Which is what we're now doing."