Civil Trial Begins in Death of Reno Officer

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Unkempt landscaping and a misplaced sign led to the death of Reno motorcycle police Officer Mike Schofield, a lawyer for the officer's widow said.

Sherry Schofield is seeking unspecified damages from the owners and property managers of the Mill Street office building where Schofield died in the September 2002 accident.

Schofield was responding to an accident scene when he slammed into a Toyota 4-Runner that pulled out from a commercial driveway. The driver, Anna Marie Jackson, was convicted in March of having marijuana in her system, but acquitted of having marijuana's active ingredient in her blood.

In his opening statement to jurors, Sherry Schofield's lawyer said untrimmed trees and a sign made it impossible for the officer to see Jackson's vehicle pulling out from the driveway, or for Jackson to see him.

"The accident occurred for two reasons - Anna Marie Jackson didn't see Officer Scofield in time and Officer Scofield didn't see Anna Marie Jackson in time," Dunlap said.

"This is a case about view obstruction."

But Charles Spann, representing the owners and property managers, said the lawsuit was an attempt to shift blame from Jackson and Schofield.

"This is a case about choices," he told jurors. "Scofield and Anna Jackson made choices that resulted in this tragic accident."

Spann said Scofield was traveling at a high rate of speed with only his emergency lights flashing, despite a general department policy that also required a siren under the circumstances.

Dunlap emphasized that Jackson's conviction was not for manslaughter or for a charge that showed she was high when the crash occurred.

"We intend to show that multiple officers said that she was not impaired at all," he said.

The trial is expected to run through the week.