Critics say San Diego police did not do enough to protect people during annual Zombie Walk

Police chief's involvement questioned

SAN DIEGO - The city of San Diego may be held liable for an accident that happened at the end of the annual "Zombie Walk" that coincides with Comic-Con.

"The City created a dangerous condition by not only allowing those people to march down the street, but actually encouraging them," said attorney Dan Gilleon.

Gilleon criticized San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman for not only walking in the parade, but doing so even though organizers hadn't applied for the permit required by the city for gatherings and marches involving more than 75 people.

The Zombie Walk was held last month, and Zimmerman and several traffic officers were near the beginning of the march, reminding people to follow traffic rules.  

SDPD even tweeted a picture of the smiling chief surrounded by people dressed as zombies.

Toward the end of the walk, which had an estimated crowd of 600, a frustrated driver inched forward into the crowd, and then told police he panicked when some of them surrounded his car, frightening the children in the back seat.  

He accelerated and struck a woman who was in the car's path. One of her arms was badly broken.

Gilleon said police should have been at that intersection managing the traffic issues, which might have prevented the incident. The incident is still under investigation by SDPD.

"It was caused by Chief Zimmerman herself promoting an unpermitted parade," Gilleon said.

10News checked the city of San Diego's Special Events webpage, which states events or organized activities for 75 or more people should apply for permits from the city.  

Although the Zombie Walk is in its 8th year, organizers did not apply for a permit.

"These events occur, our job is to manage them," said SDPD Lt. Kevin Mayer. "So in this particular situation they did not seek a permit with us."

Why then did Zimmerman participate in an event that had not followed city rules? Mayer responded that the chief attends all kinds of events.

Mayer also told 10News the police department did supply officers for the Zombie Walk, but the incident in question happened after the march had advanced several blocks from that intersection.

Attorney Mia Severson, who has handled several city liability cases, said the city will likely have claims filed against it for the Zombie Walk.

The city could face exposure for lack of oversight and not having enough officers to manage traffic issues, said Severson.

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