SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - In a city of wealth and celebrities, it may be fitting that a controversial traffic crash involves a former centerfold model, a motorcycle cop, and a pro-baseball player -- who was a key witness in the case. The Scottsdale area collision has resulted in dueling lawsuits and questions about whether a double standard was used to excuse a police officer.
The officer’s involvement in a strikingly similar crash in 2002, in which the roles were reversed, also adds to the speculation the officer may have received favorable treatment, an attorney for the November crash victim said.
On November 11, 2015 veteran Patrol Officer Wayne Crenshaw was looking for speeders near the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Dynamite Road. According to the officer's body camera video, Officer Crenshaw clocked a speeder on his radar gun driving 64 miles-an-hour in a 50 miles-an-hour zone. Officer Crenshaw began driving his motorcycle south to catch up to the car. About 30 seconds later, the officer approached the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Jomax Road where he collided into an Audi A7 sedan that was partially turned into officer’s lane.
The car was driven by Alexandria Wolfe, a Scottsdale mother who works as an author and model. Her resume includes past work with TV shows, Playboy and Maxim Magazine. A witness who was driving behind the officer was Willie Bloomquist, a former Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners utility player who lives in Scottsdale.
The motorcycle slammed into the front of Wolfe’s car, hurtling the officer against the hood and into the air. He landed several yards away, suffering broken bones to his lower body.
After the wreckage was cleared, Scottsdale Police issued Wolfe two citations: one for failure to yield to oncoming traffic and the second, a class three criminal count, for a causing a serious injury. The penalty for both violations would amount to the loss of a driver’s license for 90 days. Officer Crenshaw was not cited. A City of Scottsdale accident review board is considering whether the officer violated internal policies.
Wolfe faces financial consequences for the crash as well. In January, attorneys for Officer Crenshaw filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior court, accusing Wolfe of negligence. The officer, "suffered -- and will continue to suffer in the future -- pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, and anxiety; along with loss of enjoyment of life."
The body camera video shows Wolfe’s car partially turned into the lane in which Officer Crenshaw was driving.
Attorney Frank Powers, who represents Officer Crenshaw, says a key piece of evidence in the case against Wolfe is a police report that states Wolfe told an officer on-scene that she saw the motorcycle pass a truck, which according to the body camera video would suggest Wolfe knew at least five seconds ahead of time the motorcycle was coming. Such a scenario is “physically impossible” given the curvature of the road, said Wolfe’s attorney, Larry Lazzara. Lazzara adds that Wolfe disputes she ever said made such a statement.
According to records, Wolfe stated in a written report she was stationary in the intersection and waiting to turn when she saw “at the last second” the motorcycle “flying at a very high speed.”
“It was only a split second,” she wrote.
Two decisions by the officer during the incident could be used against him in a counter notice of claim filed by Wolfe against the City of Scottsdale.
Officer Crenshaw was going an estimated 87 miles-an-hour at impact, according to an accident reconstruction report.
"If you are in an emergency vehicle, you have the right to speed, but you never have the right to put the public in jeopardy, unnecessarily," Attorney Joel Robbins is a member of the National Police Accountability Project and specializes in personal injury cases.
Crenshaw was pursuing a driver who was allegedly driving 14 miles over the speed limit, according to the body camera video.
Bloomquist, who was driving a black Porsche at the time behind Officer Crenshaw, said the officer turned on his red and blue lights as he approached the intersection, but Bloomquist did not mention hearing a siren. Two other witnesses told police they saw the officer’s lights only.The body camera audio does not contain the sound of a siren.
According to Scottsdale Police “field orders,” officers should operate “emergency lights and siren,” while attempting to catch up to a speeding vehicle, except when the emergency warning devices may increase the potential for a collision or may unreasonably extend the duration of the emergency.
"Officer Crenshaw's decision to operate at the speeds and in the manner he did without utilizing a siren and not significantly slowing while approaching and entering a busy intersection on a highway was reckless," Wolfe's attorney Larry Lazzara stated in the notice of claim filed against the city this week.
A spokesperson for Scottsdale Police says Crenshaw was justified to exceed the speed limit because he was attempting to catch up to a speeder.
“His actions will be evaluated to determine whether they were within Scottsdale Police Department policy and if not, will be handled appropriately,” said Sgt. Ben Hoster.
In a bizarre twist, Officer Crenshaw was involved in a similar crash in 2002 that led to a motorcyclist's death.
In that crash, Crenshaw was the one turning into oncoming traffic on Scottsdale Road when a motorcyclist going speeds in excess of 100 miles-an-hour slammed into his police expedition. The motorcycle exploded into a ball of fire, witnesses said. The motorcyclist was drunk and evading police, records show.
Crenshaw was in touch with dispatch and attempting to assist in the pursuit when he made the U-Turn into oncoming traffic.
The lead detective on the case requested Crenshaw be cited for an improper U-Turn. The case was sent to a third party.
A Chandler City Prosecutor decided not to charge the officer, citing the motorcycle's speed as one factor, among many. The crash also occurred at night, making it difficult for Crenshaw to see the motorcycle, the report stated.
Lazzara said the fact is not lost on him that in one crash, the motorcycle's speed was used as a factor to exonerate Officer Crenshaw. In the November crash, the speed of Officer Crenshaw's motorcycle was not considered as a factor when police decided to blame the driver, Wolfe.
Lazzara said the cases raise the possibility of a double-standard applied to the officer -- not once, but twice.
“We certainly hope that is not the case but it is an issue we are looking into aggressively,” said Lazzara said.
There is another coincidence involving Crenshaw’s decision not to use a siren, as in the November crash. In August of 2015, Scottsdale Police reprimanded Crenshaw for violating the pursuit policy, according to internal affairs records released by Scottsdale Police to Wolfe’s attorneys.
According to the August report, Crenshaw was pursuing an erratic driver Apr. 10 on Scottsdale Road, north of the 101. The report concluded Officer Crenshaw failed to notify dispatch that he was in pursuit of the vehicle. The report also notes as “a concern” that Crenshaw did not use his siren while in pursuit. Officer Crenshaw’s maximum speed was 85 miles-an-hour in a 50 miles-an-hour zone, according to the report.
An internal affairs sergeant recommended Crenshaw receive “training on a more frequent basis to cover the pursuit policy and other aspects of pursuit procedures.”
12 News requested comment from the Scottsdale Police Department regarding the internal affairs discipline. As of Thursday evening, 12 News had not received a response.