HOUSTON—The fiancé of a young woman who was killed while being transported in the back of a police car early Wednesday spoke to KHOU 11 News about the heartbreak of losing the love of his life and his anger with the police department he said failed to protect her.
Andrew Durham said when his life was at an all-time low, 21-year-old Caroline Nicolai lifted him up.
“She basically saved my life and she meant to world to me and now I’m never going to see her again,” he said.
The couple was out drinking when they got into an argument.
“Me and her were out having some fun, she was texting this other guy,” Durham said, adding that Nicolai got mad and took off.
“She got a little ways down the road and stopped and she was outside the car and the officer arrested her for public intoxication,” he explained.
Houston police officer Regina Gonzalez placed Nicolai in handcuffs and was taking her to a sobering center. She placed her in the back of the squad car, but police say it appears Nicolai may not have been properly restrained in a seatbelt, a violation of department policy.
What happened next permanently changed the lives of all three women involved.
Police say Nicole Moser, 21, was drunk when she left a bar and ran a red light at Texas at Chartres Street. Her red Chevrolet Cobalt slammed into the police cruiser carrying Nicolai, who was thrown from the vehicle.
Nearby neighbors heard the crash and ran outside to help.
“I looked out the window and I saw the female officer running toward the car,” said Bryce Randall. “The officer asked me to elevate her legs. We just kept speaking to her trying to get her to breathe.”
Despite everyone’s efforts, Nicolai’s injuries were too severe. She later died at the hospital.
Her death has left Durham devastated. He lashed out at the Houston Police Department in a video he posted on Youtube.
“This morning at 3 a.m., the girl that I was in love with died because a police officer didn’t follow protocol when making an arrest. By law, an officer is supposed to put a seat belt on the prisoner once they are in the car for their own protection seeing as how the prisoner is cuffed. This officer failed to do that and, by not doing so, the cop was rear-ended by a drunk driver,” he said. “This needs to stop. This (expletive) happens every day, people dying at the hands of police. The people who are supposed to protect and serve; all I see them doing is sitting back and cutting corners.”
Durham said his soul mate was an amazing cook. She had dreams of becoming a chef and was getting ready pursue a degree in Culinary Arts. Durham says both of their dreams are now shattered and he doesn’t know how he is going to pick up the pieces.
Police said the young woman who caused Nicolai’s death expressed regret immediately after the crash.
“The female driver of the Cobalt, she admitted to have been drinking some alcoholic beverages, pretty much did not know what happened,” said HPD Sgt. Ignacia Izaguire at the scene. “She stated to one of our officers here that she, ‘shouldn’t have been driving, shouldn’t have been driving.’”
Moser and her passenger were both injured in the crash and taken to the hospital for treatment. Moser was later charged with intoxication manslaughter.
Officer Regina Gonzales suffered minor injuries and was sent to the hospital, where she was treated and released.