Parents of woman killed in Surprise crash sue police, restaurants

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Alexis Rumer (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Alexis Rumer (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Roger Couillard (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Roger Couillard (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

In September of 2016, 19-year-old Alexis Rumer was killed when 67-year-old Roger Couillard ran a red light in Surprise. Court documents show his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. Couillard pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated assault, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. 

[RELATED: PD: Police attempted traffic stop seconds before deadly crash in Surprise]

Rumer's parents are now suing several entities, including the City of Surprise, Clear Burst Hospitality doing business as Booty's Wings, Burgers, and Beer, and TG& IP Enterprises, doing business as Tailgaters Sports Grill & Il Primo Pizza & Wings.

Rumer's mother, Susan Pendleton, said she believes Booty's and Tailgaters in Surprise each over-served Couillard that night. 

"They served a drunk, so to me, they need to be more aware of who they're serving and how much alcohol they're serving," Pendleton said.

[RELATED: Man booked on murder charge in Surprise crash]

The owner of Booty's said they have no record of Couillard being there that night and closed earlier than normal. 

The owner of Tailgater's said they only served Couillard two drinks over a 20-minute period. He left for 40 minutes, and when he came back, he was acting erratically and speaking in a threatening manner. The manager tried calling him a cab and when he refused, he called the police.

The owner of Tailgater's said they were deeply saddened by what happened; many staff members knew Rumer as she had worked for them for a short time.

[RELATED: Valley family already touched by tragedy mourns death of teenager]

Pendleton also blames the Surprise Police Department, alleging that the sergeant who pursued Couillard before he hit Rumer didn't have his emergency siren activated. 

"They didn’t even give her the chance to try to survive," Pendleton said. "I feel if she at least had the warning, she'd be alive today."

The Surprise Police Department and the City of Surprise said they could not comment because of the ongoing litigation. 

A spokesperson for Surprise police confirmed the sergeant named in the lawsuit is currently on active duty. Court documents claim that sergeant was pursuing with his emergency lights on, but not his siren, and he did withdraw from the pursuit because of the speed. It is unclear if those emergency lights were turned off prior to Couillard running the red light and striking Rumer's car.

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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