Deadly Police Chases Still In The News

As our firm handles police chases for innocent victims tragically caught up in these dangerous pursuits through no fault of their own, and as we have witnessed many different tragedies in this context, we obviously pay close attention to other similar cases throughout the country. Just this past week we read three different articles about three different pursuits in three different states in which innocent bystanders were killed during these dangerous pursuits. In none of the pursuits that we read about were any of the fleeing suspects being pursued for a felony. One suspect fled from a routine traffic stop, another female suspect was fleeing for reasons unknown to the police in which her baby was killed and a third was fleeing for traffic violations. In all of these cases, the death penalty was imposed upon an innocent third party who had committed no violation of the law and was hit by the fleeing suspect. Had the suspect been safely apprehended, it is likely they would have been given a fine and let go by the court system based on the minor offenses committed. This is an all too familiar pattern.
We have blogged repeatedly about the dangers of high speed pursuits. It makes little or no sense to impose the death penalty on an innocent third party in order to immediately apprehend a non-violent suspect. Thirty-five to forty percent (35-40%) of all police chases end up in crashes. Many of these chases, because of the high speeds involved, involve serious injuries and/or deaths. It is estimated that there may be as many as 1,000 deaths per year in high speed pursuits nationwide. Given these well known statistics, the better approach, which is being followed more and more by enlightened police jurisdictions, is to have a restrictive policy which allows the police to chase only for forcible or violent felonies. Those departments that still allow their officers to chase for non-violent offenses such as minor traffic violations, obviously, are all too willing to risk serious injury or death in order to immediately apprehend a non-violent suspect. We reiterate this makes little or no sense and we have witnessed first hand the tragedy involved in these cases.
We here at Finch McCranie will continue to litigate these cases. We think it is an important public service. If the police adopt restrictive pursuits, research has shown that the number of pursuits will not increase nor will crime increase as this has been documented over and over again. Who can argue against such policies? They save lives, the do not increase crime nor do they increase the number of pursuits in general. It is simply a good policy that should be followed. Until the majority of departments follow these restrictive policies, we intend to litigate against those who refuse to do so and who unnecessarily expose members of the public… the innocent members of the public… to the needless risks of serious injury or death. Let the minor offenders go. It is not worth killing someone to catch them.

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