Colo. city to defend firefighter in wrongful death suit
A Colorado Springs crewmember reportedly drove over and killed a woman with a brush truck while responding to a fire
By Breeanna Jent
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The city of Colorado Springs will defend a firefighter named in a wrongful death lawsuit after he reportedly drove over and killed a woman while responding to a fire in October.
The City Council agreed informally on Monday to represent firefighter Wesley Cosgrove in the civil lawsuit as required by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. The city, Colorado Springs Fire Department and El Paso County Emergency Services are named as co-defendants in the case.
At about 2:45 p.m. on Oct. 16, Cosgrove responded to reports of a man attempting to light a fire in a tree stump in Dorchester Park when he allegedly drove over 76-year-old Margaret Miller, who was sleeping in the park, according to a summary of the case the City Attorney's Office provided to the council.
Cosgrove drove a brush truck into the park, attempting to drive around a pile of items as he approached the fire, according to the case summary. After Cosgrove passed the items, he stopped the truck and started putting out the fire. When another person began pointing at the items, the summary says, Cosgrove walked back over to them and pulled back a blanket, revealing Miller, who had been completely covered.
Patricia Cadilli, Miller's daughter, filed the civil lawsuit against Cosgrove and the city on Jan. 26 in El Paso County District Court, alleging Miller died of her injuries. Cadilli seeks "economic and non-economic damages," according to the summary.
In a memo to the council recommending the city defend Cosgrove in the civil case, the City Attorney's Office wrote that "the firefighter was acting in the course and scope of his employment and was acting in good faith."
In December, the council declined to cover the costs related to a separate criminal charge for careless driving against the firefighter because it was not in the city's best interest.
Gazette news partner KKTV reported this month that Cosgrove pleaded guilty on Feb. 6 to careless driving. He was sentenced to a $150 traffic fine and other court costs, and given one year of unsupervised probation and 100 hours of community service, according to KKTV.
KKTV also reported Cosgrove had not been placed on administrative leave after the incident and was still employed by the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
The fire department did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Gazette's request for more information.
City Attorney Wynetta Massey told the council Monday the city is required to defend employees in civil lawsuits, but is not required to represent city employees in criminal matters. Historically, Colorado Springs has not defended employees in criminal matters, she said.
Council members Nancy Henjum and Wayne Williams said they supported the council's decision to represent Cosgrove in the civil lawsuit.
"We have consistently represented firefighters (and) police officers in civil matters. We should continue to do that," Williams said.
Councilman Dave Donelson asked Massey whether the city had ever received requests in the past from firefighters or police officers that the city represent them in criminal cases.
Massey said as far as she knew, the city may have had such requests but they would have been denied.
(c)2023 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Visit The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at www.gazette.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.