An internal investigation has determined that a Gilbert patrolman failed to stop for a red light and collided with a car while heading to an emergency.
Although the lights and sirens were running on officer Tyler C. Groth’s squad car, Gilbert police policy states that an officer driving under emergency conditions still has to drive with regard for others’ safety, according to an internal affairs report obtained by the Tribune. Officers may drive through a red light only after stopping or slowing for safe operation.
For his Nov. 13 actions, Groth received a 40-hour suspension that started Dec. 18.
Groth is the second Gilbert officer to receive such discipline this year and the third officer to be involved in a collision while responding to an emergency since September.
Officer Juan E. Ocegueda was found to be in the wrong when he drove through a red light in October with his squad car lights running but without the siren operating.
The first collision took place in September when an officer was driving to a crash. The patrol car had its lights and sirens operating, and the officer was found to be not at fault.
Gilbert police have launched a six-month test in which 20 patrol vehicles were equipped with emitters that automatically change intersection lights from red to green during emergency situations.
Groth had been responding to a rollover collision at Power and Guadalupe roads. During the drive to the scene, he reached speeds of more than 90 mph, the report said.
Groth told an investigator that when he was eastbound on Warner Road approaching Higley Road, the light was red, so he slowed to 20 mph to 25 mph. He checked for traffic, then accelerated forward. He said he never saw the other vehicle.
Records indicate his speed was 52 mph prior to entering the intersection, the report said. The collision impact was calculated at 29 mph to 33 mph.
According to the report, Groth will be cited for failure to stop for a red light, and the other driver will be cited for speeding.
Gilbert police spokesman Lt. Joe Ruet said he could not comment on the internal investigation.