A press release and subsequent public statements by Browning and the fire marshal’s office attributed the accident solely to “operator error.”
The inspector general’s report in Nov. 13 disagreed with the fire marshal’s account and found the inspection process contributed to the mishap, a fact that the State Office of Public Safety again vigorously disputed in its official response.
But Eyewitness Investigates has learned that, even as the state was publicly disputing the findings, it recently settled a lawsuit by the family of the injured riders for $180,000.
“The state paid $180,000 to make this case go away,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the watchdog group The Metropolitan Crime Commission. “Butch Browning made public statements that this was operator error only. So that is factually incorrect. It’s a lie.”
Goyeneche said the settlement contradicts Browning’s earlier public position.