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Woman who lost eye after police chase ended in gunfire sues Morgan County

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Nov 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-14 09:14:52-05

WARNING: The video above contains footage some may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

MORGAN COUNTY, Utah -- A California woman is suing Morgan County after she led police on a high speed chase, which ended with a sheriff’s deputy shooting the woman in the head.

An outside investigation into the shooting ruled it unjustified, but attorneys for Morgan County said they didn’t have all of the facts.

It was late at night on November 25, 2012, and law enforcement attempted to pull over Kristine Biggs Johnson for an out headlight on I-84. A chase began that traveled through three counties, ending with gunfire in Davis County. Dash cam video captured the moment in question, see the video above for the footage.

The footage shows Morgan County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Daniel Peay firing his gun at Kristine Biggs Johnson after she refused to stop for police.

The woman survived the shooting and served more than a month in jail for DUI and failure to stop at the command of an officer. She also lost her left eye and will soon undergo her second $25,000 reconstructive surgery. She and her attorney Robert Sykes announced Thursday they are suing Morgan County.

“And that’s the consequence of the improper use of deadly force,” Sykes said. “The unconstitutional use of deadly force… There was no reason to fire that weapon. He was trying to kill this woman, and there was no reason to do it.”

An investigation into the shooting conducted by Davis County ruled the shooting was unjust, but no criminal charges were ever filed against the sergeant. Attorney Peter Stirba is representing Morgan County in the suit, and he said that ruling is irrelevant.

“The United States Supreme Court has squarely held that officers are legally justified in discharging their weapons at suspects that are fleeing or attempting to flee, where if they get back on the highway they will pose a threat to innocent people on the highway,” Stirba said.

Stirba said the purpose of the Davis County investigation was to see if any criminal charges would be filed, and he said the opinion is irrelevant because they didn’t have the same information and all of the facts. Facts like Johnson’s blood alcohol level.

“Not only was the suspect driving in an erratic and very dangerous manner, was engaged in a high-speed pursuit, her blood alcohol content was in excess of 3 times the legal limit,” Stirba said.

Biggs Johnson said she has no memory of the incident, but does have a message for the officers involved.

“I’m hurt that they shot me, but the bottom line is that I am sorry for my actions that caused this,” she said.