Family of police officer Dwayne Freeto sues driver, Ford

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by By DEBRA DENNIS / The Dallas Morning News

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 1:26 PM

FORT WORTH - The family of a police officer killed in a fiery car crash is suing the man who killed him and Ford Motor Co., claiming the Crown Victoria was unsafe and contributed to his death.

Dwayne Freeto was killed nearly two years ago when a driver slammed into his police cruiser along Interstate 35W near downtown. The officer was rear-ended while assisting a stranded motorist.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Tarrant County, claims driver Samuel Lee Hilburn was negligent when he drove his car into the Crown Victoria. Mr. Hillburn was convicted of intoxication manslaughter in August and is serving 13 years in prison.

The Freeto family's attorney, Mark Haney, decried the Crown Victoria, saying the cars are a "deathtrap" and have a flawed gas tank design.

Karen Freeto, Mr. Freeto's widow, said she struggles with the tragedy and hopes to raise public awareness.

"I wish we didn't have to re-live his death," Ms. Freeto said. "But we have to so that others know the dangers that exist, and so that other officers like Dwayne are not killed."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

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