Teen Injured in Fatal Police Chase Sues Columbia Falls Department

Joshua Sauls is seeking $3 million after he was injured in a June 2015 car chase

By Justin Franz

A 16-year-old injured in a high-speed police chase in June 2015 is suing the Columbia Falls Police Department for $3 million.

Joshua Sauls filed the lawsuit against the police department and Officer Mike Johnson on Dec. 5 in Flathead County District Court. Sauls alleges that he received life-threatening injuries because of Johnson’s unlawful decision to chase the vehicle the plaintiff was a passenger in.

According to the suit and police reports, Sauls and another teen were passengers in a vehicle driven by 15-year-old Pierce Norman Beach. Early on the morning of June 14, Beach was driving through Columbia Falls when he passed Johnson. The officer noticed that Beach’s taillight was out and he tried to pull the vehicle over. When Beach sped up, Johnson initiated a chase on U.S. Highway 2 through Bad Rock Canyon. The chase ended when Beach’s vehicle went off the road near Hungry Horse and crashed into a tree. Beach was killed in the accident and Sauls and another passenger were injured.

It was later revealed that the vehicle Beach was driving was stolen. While Johnson said his initial reason to pull Beach over was because of a broken taillight, Sauls’ attorney, Marshall M. Myers, states that dash camera footage proves otherwise.

“Officer Johnson should have been aware that a high speed night time pursuit could possibly cause death or severe injuries to the passengers and driver,” the suit states. “Plaintiff Sauls alleges that Officer Johnson’s failure to have valid probable cause for the traffic stop and subsequent high speed pursuit was a contributing factor in plaintiff Sauls’ injuries and that but for Officer Johnson’s unlawful actions, plaintiff Sauls would not have suffered the injuries he sustained.”

Sauls is requesting a jury to award him $3 million to compensate him for the injuries he suffered.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.