City Memorial is Misplaced

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Laguna Beach police Officer Jon Coutchie’s death was a terrible accident, but the young man driving the truck and his family have been dragged through the mud while LBPD has created the image of a fallen officer as a hero, further driving a stake into the situation.

Forgotten are the hard facts and circumstances in the CHP report and not one article addressing the negligent excessive speed of officer Coutchie, who was determined to have been traveling at 30 MPH over the posted speed limit.

Any citizen would have been arrested for speeding at such an excessive limit and had any civilian broadsided a car found speeding they would have gone to jail.

We should use this as an example. The officer could have hit a pedestrian instead of a truck and killed someone traveling at excessive speeds creating an unsafe condition of reckless endangerment of the general public.

The CHP report came to us a year late, after monies were collected under pretense and conjecture and when the conclusion was reported that the officer’s excessive speed contributed to his own death, not a murmur of an apology by LBPD.

It was further determined by CHP report that the officer was not in pursuit of any vehicle nor did any radio communication sustain the officer had reason to be found speeding, though early reports from LBPD indicated the officer was in hot pursuit.

The officer was determined to be culpable and his own negligence of not abiding by speed limits contributed to his own death.

The family involved has suffered enough and the CHP report should be addressed with regard to the conduct of LBPD and police accepting and owning responsibility to obey traffic laws like the rest of us!

If Officer Coutchie had been following posted speed limits, he would have been able to control stopping in time and likely avoided death.

Recently reported that the city is suing the young man and his family; we should be ashamed. I suspect there will be a settlement to keep facts quiet.

Let’s be accurate and fair to the 21-year-old young man whose family has been unfairly targeted by lawsuits that even the district attorney refused to prosecute. Yet, this city and LBPD continues to memorialize an officer whose negligence contributed to his own death.

The facts are the facts and many people are talking about the continued charade perpetuated by LBPD.

Lolena Smiley, Laguna Beach


Editor’s Note: The Indy as well as other local publications reported on the CHP’s findings.

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  1. Thanks for this incisive clarification of the tragic death of Officer Jon Coutchie. I still had the misconception that Officer Coutchie was in hot pursuit. How the LBPD mislead the public shortly after the accident remains a mystery. I assume every officer is required to notify the dispatcher that he is pursuing someone on his how and where is going. Obviously the LBPD lied about this to protect the reputation of the officer…what other conclusion could one come to based on this letter by Lolena Smiley? LBPD should fess up and stop hiding the facts behind Officer Coutchie’s death. We deserve better. Trust in our police is based on their credibility and that’s lacking in this case.


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