Jury Finds Police at Fault in Woman’s Death After High Speed Chase

Maria Gaglione, 24, from Pittsburg, died after the car she was a passenger in during a high-speed chase with police in a stolen car. Her parents assert she did not know the car had been stolen 2 days earlier and was not participating in the flight from law.

Jurors at a coroner’s inquest ruled the death was not an accident and was caused by the police in a negligent and dangerous chase. The father of the victim spoke out in agreement with the decision. Two Clayton sheriff’s deputies, chased the car at speeds of over 80 MH in an area designated at 25 MPH in Concord. The driver of the stolen car was Amy Fiasconaro, 32, of Antioch. She lost control of the car and hit a wall at 109 MPH. She also hit a tree on Myrtle Drive in front of Myrtle Farm Montessori School. The roof of the car smashed Gaglione in the passenger seat. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Fiasconaro was found a few feet away crawling around on her hands and knees. She first said Gaglione was driving. Fiasconaro was found to have heroin and methamphetamine in her bloodstream.

Coroner’s inquests are held in all officer-involved or in-custody deaths in Contra Costa County.  They are publicly held to determine cause of death. Findings cannot be appealed. They have no criminal or civil implications. Gaglione’s death was said to have been caused by someone’s negligence and not an accident. Her father feels the police were at fault and should be fired and imprisoned.

The accident began at approximately 3:30 p.m. the afternoon of May 13th. Clayton police officers Thomas Starick and Allen Pike responded to a call of a suspicious woman and vehicle in the Clayton Station Shopping Center in the area near Kirker Pass Road. Police located the suspicious Jeep on Kirker Pass Road and tried to pull it over but the driver sped off. The chase lasted only half a mile before the driver crashed.

The results of the inquest were found by 11 members of the jury returning a verdict that the crash was not an accident but the result of another in only 30 minutes. Only one member of the jury found it to be an accidental death. The victim’s father feels that while the driver was partially to blame, the police hold a larger portion of blame in his daughter’s death.

In May of 2017, Contra Costa county prosecutors charged Fiasconaro with murder, fleeing a peace officer causing death, and driving a vehicle without consent. The Jeep was later found to have been stolen from Oakley, California a few days earlier. If convicted, the charges would give Fiasconaro her third strike under California law.

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