Unlawful U-turn legal when it involves the police

U-turn crashNew details about a crash involving a Menlo Park police officer reveal that the officer was in route to an emergency call when he made an “illegal” U-turn against a red light, causing his car to collide with another vehicle.

Atherton police, who were called in to investigate the crash, told the post yesterday that because Officer Bradley Schuler was responding to an emergency call, he had the right to violate traffic laws so that he could arrive on the scene of an emergency more quickly.

Under normal circumstances, such a U-turn would have been deemed illegal.

According to police, the crash occurred at 10:12 p.m. on July 18 when officer Schuler, 39, turned on his emergency lights and made a U-turn from eastbound Willow Road onto westbound Willow Road.

As Schuler made the U-turn, he was hit by Christopher Staples, 27, of Sunnyvale, who was driving westbound, police said. Staples said he didn’t have time to stop before hitting the police cruiser on its passengers.

Major damages

Atherton police said they hadn’t found evidence that Schuler”s view of oncoming traffic was blocked before he make the turn.

Police also said that both cars sustained fairly serious damage and had to be towed away from the scene.

Atherton police said they did not know what emergency Schuler was responding to. Schuler was taken to the hospital that night, but was released a few hours later.

Menlo Park police said last night that they were not able to offer comment on the incident because it was an unusually busy night, but last week they said that Schuler had since returned to work.

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