SOUTHINGTON – Town leaders agreed to settle a lawsuit Monday against a police officer over a fatal crash in 2015.
Details of the settlement weren’t released Monday night when the council voted unanimously in favor of the deal.
Kayla Torres was headed home to Meriden from Bristol in December 2015 after picking up her children Veronica Martinez, 7, and Yvette Martinez, 4, and her cousin. Her vehicle was struck by a minivan driven by Michael Luponio, injuring her and a passenger, Miguel Melendez. Both children died in the crash.
Luponio, whose blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He’d sped past Southington police officer Matthew Vose about 10 minutes before the fatal accident.
According to the lawsuit, Vose should have pulled over Luponio but didn’t.
Vose told investigators that a van drove by him at a "noticeably faster" speed. He turned his cruiser lights on, but did not make them flash or strobe. Vose opted not to pursue the vehicle, however, "as the speed violation was minor and he did not want to pursue it outside of his jurisdiction," Luponio's arrest warrant said.
Vose was then flagged down by a man who told Bristol investigators he was getting off Interstate 84 at Exit 31 when his vehicle was nearly struck by Luponio's minivan.
Luponio yelled an expletive at the man and threw a glass bottle at his vehicle, the warrant said. The man said Luponio was driving "at a high rate of speed" on West Street in Southington and that he stopped to talk to Vose after Luponio "blew by" the officer.
Settlement recommended by outside attorneys
Town Attorney Jeremy Taylor said council members were briefed on the lawsuit and possible settlement last week. The case was being handled by attorneys with the town’s insurance carrier.
“Outside council has recommended a settlement,” Taylor said.
The unanimous vote took place without discussion.
Taylor said the settlement would be covered by the town’s insurance company but didn’t say how much money would be paid or disclose any other settlement conditions.