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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Officer who hit elderly couple with patrol car agrees to 2-year probation of peace officer certification

The Spokane Police Officer who hit and injured an older couple in his patrol car in 2020 agreed late last month to a two-year probationary period to keep his peace officer certification.

Officer Michael Brunner’s certification was at risk after the Spokane Police Department filed a report with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission following his guilty plea to reckless driving in 2021 and subsequent internal affairs investigation that found he violated three department policies.

Brunner was driving 65 mph in a 30 mph zone seconds before he T-boned James and Lois Collins, who were driving to a doctor’s appointment in March 2020, according to a Washington State Patrol investigation of the crash.

The officer was heading back to the police department as his shift ended.

Brunner sped around a woman in the turn lane, according to a witness, crashing into the Collinses’ car in the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Lincoln Street.

The crash left James Collins, who was driving, with a broken collar bone and rib, along with bleeding in his right retina. Lois Collins had a cut on her head that required staples, according to WSP.

The Collinses received a $135,000 settlement from the city of Spokane earlier this year.

On Sept. 19, the commission issued a statement of charges against Brunner, indicating they intend to suspend or revoke his certification. Brunner requested a hearing on the charges that was set for late last month.

Ahead of the hearing, Brunner and the commission reached an agreement that would allow Brunner to keep his license after completing a two-year probation, according to the settlement agreement.

Brunner cannot have any sustained findings of new misconduct that could require CJTC to revoke his license during the two years. He must speak to four classes of new officers on the dangers of reckless driving.

He also must complete 10 remedial trainings.

Brunner agreed to write an apology letter to the Collinses and attend a victim impact panel on reckless driving.

If he completes the probationary period successfully, Brunner will not face further sanctions from the commission over the crash. Brunner remains employed as a Spokane Police officer.