Attorney files claim against city for man who died in crash with BPD patrol car

Mar. 23—A claim filed by a local law firm representing the family of a man who died in a collision with a Bakersfield Police Department patrol car revealed previously unknown details of the fatal crash, such as the name of the patrol car's driver and the alleged negligence that caused the wreck, according to the document provided to The Californian on Thursday.

Officers Richard Robles, 23, and Travione Cobbins, 24, were driving at an excessive speed Jan. 19 to help apprehend a suspect driving a reportedly stolen vehicle when they collided into motorist Mario Lares, 31, and his passenger, Ana Hernandez on South Vineland Drive and Muller Road, the California Highway Patrol wrote in a search warrant investigating the incident.

Lares died at the scene while Hernandez, 34, was hospitalized with major injuries after an officer didn't brake at a posted stop sign and failed to turn on sirens or overhead lights, according to a claim filed on behalf of Lares' family by law firm Rodriguez & Associates. This claim, filed with the city of Bakersfield on Feb. 23, must be filed before anyone may sue a government entity.

The city of Bakersfield has 45 days from its filing to respond to the claim.

The claim doesn't mention Cobbins and says Robles failed to pay attention to the roadway, ran the stop sign and/or lost control of his marked vehicle and/or couldn't stop. Lares, who was driving west on Muller Road, didn't have a stop sign.

"In addition, Respondents were traveling parallel to another marked vehicle on an adjacent road, further endangering the public, including the Decedent," the claim said. It does not say why this endangered the public.

The CHP noted in an initial news release that a 23-year-old man was the driver of the BPD car, but never identified the driver. The BPD has said Robles is 23 and Cobbins is 24. There weren't any criminal charges listed for Robles or Cobbins on Thursday.

The claim also alleges Bakersfield negligently trains officers regarding proper pursuits, responding to emergency calls and/or driving tactics when encountering civilians. BPD supervisors also negligently supervise and/or monitor officers, the claim alleges.

Lares' family will never have the 31-year-old's love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection and other contributions. The Bakersfield native and Foothill High School graduate also didn't die immediately upon impact, the claim asserts, and suffered before dying.

The claim also noted all responsible government employees accused haven't been identified.

Damages sought under this claim exceed $10,000 and a dollar amount was not specified.

Civil attorney Daniel Rodriguez represents Mario Lares' wife, Yuvani Lares, father Roque Lares and mother Silvia Lares. He's also now representing Hernandez, and said Thursday he plans to file a lawsuit with all four plaintiffs.

Chain Cohn Clark once represented Hernandez and filed a claim against Bakersfield on behalf of her. The firm declined to comment on why it is no longer representing Hernandez.

You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @_ishanidesai on Twitter.