Real Police Chases

Atlanta City Council To Consider Pursuit Policy Changes

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So so many heartbreaking stories.

City Council committee to consider police pursuit changes

HAYLEY MASON
UPDATED 14 HRS AGO | POSTED ON JUN 28, 2021

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Joi and Doug Partridge will never forget the day they lost their two children Cameron and Layla, and Joi’s mother, Dorothy Wright. Wright was driving her grandchildren to church when she was hit by the driver of a stolen car fleeing from police in 2016 in Southwest Atlanta.

“It really hurts because I lost my parent and my two kids,” Joi Partridge told CBS46’s Hayley Mason.

Read the rest of the story here: https://www.cbs46.com/news/city-council-committee-to-consider-police-pursuit-changes/article_83d4b2cc-d880-11eb-b4ea-fbde3d93bfdc.html

@CBS46

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2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens

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2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens

by Jon Farris

Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Let me say this AGAIN.

Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens.

Please see Elliot Hughes (@ElliotHughes12) Journal-Sentinel (@JournalSentinel) article at https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2021/06/16/milwaukee-reckless-driving-boy-16-dies-after-stolen-car-crash/5295939001/

Police said officers attempted to stop a stolen vehicle on the 9900 block of West Good Hope Road shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday, but it instead led them on a chase and eventually crossed over into oncoming traffic.
Police said the pursuit was then terminated, but the car continued to drive against traffic and hit another vehicle head-on at 50 to 60 miles an hour

In 2017, against the wishes of then Chief of Police Ed Flynn, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission MANDATED a WEAKENING of Milwaukee’s good pursuit policy – a policy which SAVED LIVES.  And as a result of that change, Milwaukee’s 2018 pursuits were up 239 percent, (https://pursuitforchange.org/advocacy/an-open-letter-to-milwaukee-police-chief-alfonso-morales-and-the-milwaukee-fire-and-police-commission/) with each of those chases endangering officers and citizens. How could anyone consider that to be a good thing?

Then, sadly as I had warned and predicted in 2017 (https://pursuitforchange.org/advocacy/statement-for-the-milwaukee-fire-police-commission/), one of MPD’s officers was killed in 2018. Officer Charles Irvine died in a pursuit related crash . Officer Irvine was the same age as my son, killed in an unnecessary police pursuit.

Officer Irvine’s death was completely preventable.

But instead, Milwaukee chose to double down and chase even more stolen vehicles, KNOWINGLY ENDANGERING many many citizens each and every time.

So FOUR YEARS after making a truly CRITICAL MISTAKE, Milwaukee continues to endanger, maim and kill citizens while NOT solving anything. Is this incompetence or simply a blatant disregard for the area’s population?

PS:  Oh, I almost forgot. Milwaukee is working on yet more billboards. Just brilliant…

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article above:

“A cadre of city officials announced a new billboard campaign discouraging reckless driving. And they all touched on the troubling problem of people as young as 12 years old stealing cars and using them for joyriding and driving dangerously.”

And from the original campaign: (https://pursuitforchange.org/voices-of-victims/a-father-who-lost-his-innocent-bystander-son-in-a-police-chase-criticizes-milwaukee-billboard-campaign/). It was ineffective then and remains ineffective now.

 

PPS: If you search the News page for Milwaukee posts, you’ll find many, especially in 2017-2019…

admin2021 UPDATE: Milwaukee’s 2017 Incredibly Stupid Decision to Dramatically Increase Dangerous Pursuits Continues to Kill and Maim Innocent Citizens
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Oklahoma City family questions police pursuit that killed innocent pregnant mom Star Shells

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Oklahoma City family questions police pursuit that killed pregnant mom Star Shells

by Josh Dulaney, The Oklahoman

She kept the burial flag of her grandfather, a U.S. Army veteran, in her car window, and it was that flag, in pieces and scattered on the northeast Oklahoma City street, that signified Star Shells was dead.

Shells’ mother, Connie Basco, got the call Monday morning, shortly after Shells, 28, dropped her two young sons off at John W. Rex Charter School and was on her way home.

There had been a police chase, ending in a violent car wreck at Martin Luther King Avenue and NE 16. It scattered car parts along an entire city block. Basco arrived on the scene, desperate for answers.

 

Read the rest of the story HERE

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Chicago: Police vehicle chases end in crashes two-thirds of the time, according to hacked emails

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Chicago: Police vehicle chases end in crashes two-thirds of the time

By Sharon Hoyer
May 17, 2021

In March, @StreetsblogChi took a look at police vehicle chases and the Chicago Police Department’s policy that asks officers to apply an in-the-moment, mental “balancing test” to weigh the necessity of immediately apprehending a suspect against the inherent danger of motor vehicle pursuit. A trove of recently hacked City Hall emails further illustrated the extreme danger and high cost of police vehicle chases.

On May 12, the Chicago Sun-Times’ David Struett reported that, according to a confidential report made public by the hack, two-thirds police chases in 2019 – 180 of 270 total – ended in crashes, and in eight cases people died.

 

Read the rest of the story HERE

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Drivers Are Dying In Chicago Because Cops Treat Car Chases Like Demolition Derbies

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A story in @Jalopnik

by José Rodríguez Jr. @jrodriguezjr
5/14/21 2:25PM

The Chicago Sun-Times recently wrote about how bad car crashes have gotten in Chicago, Illinois. Except it’s not regular motorists who are causing all the mayhem; it’s the police. Specifically, it’s police chases that are causing all the accidents.

Chicago recorded 270 chases in 2019, and 180 of these ended in either loss of property, loss of human life or both, per the Chicago Sun-Times. Eight drivers died in these car crashes from 2019. In other words, two out of three police chases in the city that year ended in a car crash and one in 23 of those were fatal.

THE REST OF THE STORY IS HERE

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As Though We Don’t Have Enough To Deal With

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by Jonathan Farris
Dad and Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

 

February 23, 2021

As Though We Don’t Have Enough To Deal With

Paul & Scott

For any parent who has lost a child, regardless of that child’s age, there’s a gnawing ache that never completely goes away.

When the death first occurs and for several years afterwards, the wound is incredibly raw. Then, as years progress, many parents (definitely not all) learn to manage the pain and sorrow and move toward a more “normal” life.

This is what I call the “new normal” – because there will never again be the old normal…

The journey along this new normal has many speed bumps. Even after 14 years, for me music is a trigger for tears and moments sorrow. This is a regular occurrence and I’ve learned to simply go with it. The triggered event may last a minute or may last longer, but thankfully the new normal generally follows.

Because Paul was a victim of a crime (fleeing and officer in a police pursuit), our new normal includes issues surrounding the individual who killed Paul.

More than three years after Paul was killed (May 2007) we spoke at the trial. He was sentenced to 15-20 years plus 15 years additional probation for his crimes.

In early 2020, seemingly out of the blue, we received notification he was eligible for parole. Yep, an unexpected trigger event!

With help from many, we provided the parole board with convincing information that he should not be released early and they denied his release. But parole hearings often become an annual affair, as was the case with Paul’s killer.

On Monday I attended a Zoom Parole Board hearing for him. There were several parole board members, a victim’s advocate (the individual who helps guide us through the legal system maze), me, and “him.”

I won’t go into any more details, but after the hearing the parole board voted against early release.

So another trigger event can be tabled until next year, when we’ll likely go through the process again.

For all of you who knew Paul and who supported us through this ongoing journey, THANK YOU. This is a journey that’s virtually impossible without support from friends and family.

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November 2, 2020

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November 2, 2020
Fourteen Birthdays

By Jonathan Farris, Dad and Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

Many of our readers will envision this particular Monday as the day before one of the United States’ most contentious Presidential elections.

Some of our readers are worried about the COVID19 pandemic and devastation caused to individuals, families, countries and the world. As of my writing this, 234,000 people have died in the US and 1,200,000 have died worldwide. Horrible beyond mere words.

But on November 2, 2020 I will take a moment to forget this election, to forget the pandemic, and to instead focus on good memories.

Paul Farris was taken from us in May of 2007. And 2020 will be his 14th missed birthday. Unimaginable.

I suspect given the current state of things, we would have emailed Paul a silly card, texted a funny greeting and then spoken to him when he finished work.

He would be heartbroken that such a horrendous chapter of history is being written in 2020. However, I suspect that in addition to being despondent, he’d be engaged doing whatever he could to make a better future for our world.

Or perhaps he’d just be sitting around drinking beer. We’ll never know…

 

Just like every birthday, and indeed every day, we miss you immensely.

Paul singing with theMark circa 2002

Paul

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Police Pursuit Symposium and WCPO Story

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Hamilton County Police Association (Cincinnati Metro Area) Police Pursuit Symposium / WCPO interview

Jon Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit for Change, was a featured presenter at the August 19, 2020 Cincinnati Metro Area Police Pursuit Symposium.

Jon spoke about being a grieving father, a police pursuit victim, an advocate for reducing pursuits, a cheerleader for Pursuit Reduction Technology and a strong supporter of law enforcement. This was an excellent, three-hour symposium with tremendous involvement by over 60 command-level officers from throughout the county. Thanks to Lt. Steve Saunders from the CPD for allowing me to participate.

 

Additionally, Jon was interviewed by Craig Cheatham, Executive Producer/Chief Investigative Reporter of the WCPO 9 I-Team in Cincinnati. Thanks to Craig for this terrific update.

https://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/i-team/one-police-pursuit-policy-for-44-hamilton-county-departments-victims-dad-hopes-to-convince-agencies

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May 27, 2020. Thirteen Years

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May 27, 2020. Thirteen Years

posted May 27, 2020

Thirteen years since Paul was stolen from us. 

 

Paul in his early years

Another unnecessary #PoliceChase occurred on May 27, 2007.

Paul Farris became another INNOCENT VICTIM.

We became yet another family GRIEVING – forever. 

When everything except your memories have been stolen, work hard to never forget.

We miss you, Paul.

 

PS: The posting cover photo is Paul and his mom at his 2006 Tuft’s University graduation. An awesome day.

PaulFarris.org

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Border Patrol Agent Speaks Out About A High-Speed Chase That Ended In An Immigrant’s Death

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Sadly, in our current all-too-divisive country and world, many people will read this article and say, “So what, it was just some illegal aliens.”

So to them we say, those were REAL PEOPLE.  They had/have families and friends who love them.

How would you feel if a drunk was driving your family or friends and made the stupid decision to flee? This happens regularly. Would it be OK if police chased and as a result YOUR FAMILY was killed or grievously injured?  No, it would not be OK.

YOU    WOULD    BE    OUTRAGED.

The Border Patrol chases regularly, and with impunity. This is wrong. Many, if not most of those pursuits, could be eliminated with a stricter and smarter pursuit policy, significantly more driver training for Border Patrol Officers and much greater usage of Pursuit Reduction Technology.


Border Patrol Agent Speaks Out About A High-Speed Chase That Ended In An Immigrant’s Death

by Debbie Nathan
February 28 2020, 7:00 a.m.

A FEW MINUTES BEFORE midnight on January 29, an Ecuadorian man was killed in a car crash near downtown El Paso, Texas, only yards from the U.S.-Mexico border. An Ecuadorian woman was gravely hurt and weeks later is just emerging from a coma. She’s missing part of her skull and half of her body appears to be paralyzed. Stuck in a hospital thousands of miles from her kin, she has had few visitors, but one has been a Border Patrol agent who feels grief-stricken by the accident and believes the Border Patrol played a major role in causing it. The agent recently had an emotional meeting with a family member of the severely injured woman and offered to testify if the family brings a lawsuit.

Police reports say the crash was caused by a drunk driver who picked up the Ecuadorians after they crossed into the U.S. illegally. The driver is said to have been a smuggler who was speeding to evade the Border Patrol, and crashed because he was driving too fast. But the agent says that the chase was improper. It occurred near downtown El Paso on West Paisano Drive, on a section of road so prone to crashes that local law enforcement officers call it a “deadly curve.”

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

@DebbieNathan2 @JessicaHRodz @betsyreed2 @PursuitResponse @theintercept

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Wisconsin bill increases penalties for vehicle theft, reckless driving, and fleeing an officer

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Wisconsin Vehicle Theft Legislation 2020

Wisconsin State Senator Chris Kapenga stated on February 19, 2020 in news release, “Car thefts (are) increasing in 8 of the 10 most populous (Wisconsin) counties.”  Here is the proposed WI Legislation that increases the penalties for vehicle theft, reckless driving, and fleeing an officer: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/sb769

The PFC take on this legislation?

We believe that legislation INCREASING PENALTIES for individuals (criminals) who fail to stop for a law enforcement officer (LEO) is good policy. The same can be said for vehicle theft and reckless driving penalties.

However, where this legislation falls woefully short is relating to the EVER INCREASING NUMBER OF DANGEROUS #POLICECHASES that are occurring in Wisconsin, often as a result of these types of crimes.

If our elected officials REALLY WANT TO PROTECT CITIZENS AND LEO’S from unnecessary injuries and death, then implement STRONGER PURSUIT POLICIES, limiting police chases to only the most violent felony actions, and NOT FOR STOLEN CARS OR PROPERTY THEFT.

 


A PolitiFact story confirming Senator Kapenga’s statement and providing the data and statistics. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/mar/12/chris-kapanga/yes-auto-theft-most-large-wisconsin-counties-thoug/

By D.L. Davis
March 12, 2020

Yes, auto theft is up in most large Wisconsin counties, though down statewide

The issue of reckless driving has gained urgency as lawmakers, police and residents grapple with how to get a handle on increasing danger on neighborhood streets.

One approach: Crack down on auto theft.

In Milwaukee and elsewhere, the police pursuit of stolen vehicles has led to accidents, including a Feb. 1, 2020 incident in Wauwatosa, when a stolen car being pursued by Milwaukee police crashed into a tree.

State Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, introduced a bill to address auto theft that, among other things, increases penalties for reckless driving, fleeing an officer and vehicle theft. The measure won Senate approval Feb. 19, 2020 on a 19-14 vote and was sent to the Assembly.

In a news release that day, Kapenga argued: “Reckless driving and car thefts have been a major issue not only in Milwaukee County but also across the state with car thefts increasing in 8 of the 10 most populous counties.”

Is Kapenga right?

The evidence
When asked for backup, Kapenga’s chief of staff Kyle Koenen pointed to the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Uniform Crime Reporting Database.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

@SenatorKapenga @GannettDavis @PursuitResponse @StarChaseLLC @FaacIncorporated #ThereAreOtherOptions

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Many Pains Remain Forever – Parole Hearings

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by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate

Many Pains Simply Remain Forever

It’s been a while since I posted a note. Apologies, but life has and continues to get in the way of my advocacy efforts.

I do, however, want to give you a brief update on the “justice system.”

In the early morning of May 27, 2007 a man named Javier Morales killed my son. It was a collision by this guy’s SUV, being pursued by a Massachusetts State Trooper for an illegal u-turn. Morales was doing 76MPH when he broadsided the taxi. The rest is too horrible to describe again, so I shall not.

Four years after Paul’s and Walid Chahine’s deaths, Morales was sentenced to prison for two concurrent sentences of 15-20 years, with dispensation for time already served. The “15” portion of that 15-20 year sentence is supposed to be THE EARLIEST that Morales would be eligible for parole.  So, doing the math, we should not expect anything about a parole hearing until May 23, 2022.

So imagine my family’s horror when, in late 2019 we received a letter from the Parole Board’s stating that his first parole hearing would be in 2020.

I won’t get into the details of why he was eligible for parole early, but suffice it to say the criminal justice system needs plenty of work.

So now we’ll deal with this additional insanity every year. Yes, many pains simply remain forever.

We miss you, Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here is the post-hearing ruling from the Parole Board:

Dear Mr. Farris:

The Parole Board conducted a parole hearing for the above named offender and has voted to deny parole release. Inmates for whom the Board has denied parole may appeal the decision within 30 days or request reconsideration after 90 days.

If there is any change in the Board’s decision, you will be notified. The Parole Board conducts an annual review hearing for those individuals who have been denied parole. The offender will be scheduled for a parole hearing each year until parole is granted or the sentence is completed.

If the offender completes his sentence before his next scheduled parole hearing, the correctional facility will be responsible for informing you of the release. Please be advised, this offender may be eligible for mandatory release to supervision pursuant to M.G.L. c.127, §130B. If this does occur, you will be notified 14 days prior to the date of release to supervision. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

Here’s the Farris family’s pre-hearing letter to the Parole Board:

RE: Javier Morales
Parole Hearing

Dear Members of the Massachusetts Parole Board,

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to express our great concerns regarding a possible early parole for Javier Morales, the individual who killed our son Paul Farris.

We are Jonathan, Roberta and Scott Farris, Paul Farris’ parents and brother.

At 4:30 AM on May 27, 2007 we received a call that no family should ever get – an emergency room doctor telling us our son had been killed in a car crash several hours earlier. There are simply no words to explain what that call was like. From that instant, and for every day since, our lives have been inexorably transformed for the worse.

Our incredible son and brother, Paul, was taken from our lives and from the lives of so many others who knew and loved him. We have not, nor shall we ever, heal from the emotional scars caused directly by a career criminal, Javier Morales.

We invite you to view Paul’s memorial website PaulFarris.org, to see, to hear and to better understand who we forever lost.

The police chase that killed Paul started with an illegal U-turn by Morales and his subsequent fleeing from a State Trooper. As a result of this, we are active with Pursuit For Change (PursuitForChange.org), an organization which advocates for stricter pursuit policies and for greater usage of pursuit reduction technology.

When Paul was killed, it took several days to learn what had happened that night; to learn how Paul Farris and Walid Chahine were killed and why Katelyn Hoyt was so severely injured that she nearly died and spent years recovering.

Paul is dead because Morales was once again driving illegally. Paul is dead because Morales illegally fled from a State Trooper and that trooper engaged Morales in a high-speed pursuit.

Paul was an amazing young man. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University in 2006 and was working as an insurance claims adjuster. He had taken his LSATs and planned to attend law school in 2008. Paul had absolutely everything going for him. Javier Morales killed him.

This was not an “accident,” but rather Morales’ deliberate and criminal flight from the police that caused Paul’s death. The borrowed SUV was going 76 mph, without headlights, on a narrow street in the most densely populated city in all New England. Whether Javier Morales had fired a gun that night or because he drove a 4,000-pound SUV that ripped Paul from the taxi – the result was the death of both Paul and Walid Chahine. Javier Morales killed them. Additionally, Katelyn Hoyt was so severely injured that she was unconscious for nearly four weeks. She remained in Massachusetts General Hospital for four months and continued rehabilitation with her parents in New York before finally being able to return to Boston.

As you can see from Morales’ lengthy arrest history below, since 1995 he drove illegally many times; he committed other crimes; he hurt people; and never displayed even the slightest remorse.

It is frighteningly obvious to us that when Morales is released from prison he will slide behind the wheel of a car. He will drive illegally. He will certainly run if pursued by law enforcement. And he will most assuredly injure, maim or kill another innocent victim.

From the summary below you can see Morales’ criminal history and the inordinate number of times he was given another chance, released and forgiven. And as a result of those previous decisions, on May 27, 2007 he crossed the threshold from petty criminal to murderer.

He deliberately ran from the police while illegally driving, and at that time our son and Scott’s brother, Paul Farris and Walid Chahine were both killed.

In 2011, after waiting several years for Morales to be deemed mentally competent to stand trial, he received two sentences of 15-20 years to be served concurrently. That was a very small price to pay for killing two innocent bystanders (Paul & Walid) and for the grievous injuries to a third victim (Katelyn).

Even taking into account time served beginning on May 27, 2007, Morales has served less than 13 years of his sentence. And he has done virtually nothing to redeem or better himself during these 12-plus years in prison.

Releasing Morales before he serves at least the minimum 15-year sentence would be a travesty and a great injustice to Paul, Walid, Katelyn and our grieving families. Morales skated away from far too many arrests and convictions, most for driving illegally, and there is simply no valid reason for him to be released early.

From the bottom of our hearts, we implore you to deny Morales’ parole.

Respectfully,

Jonathan, Roberta & Scott Farris
Jon@PursuitForChange.org
PaulFarris.org
PursuitForChange.org

Javier Morales’ arrest history (as of 5/29/2007)

When Javier Morales faced his first adult arraignment on May 24, 1995, it was twelve years before the fatal May 27, 2007 crash involving Jessica LeBlanc’s father’s car driven by Morales. Our son Paul Farris, one victim of the 2007 crash, was 14 the first time his accused murder stood before a judge.

These are the charges Morales has stood before judges on:

On May 24, 1995 Morales was arraigned in South Boston District Court for a compulsory insurance violation and operating a motor vehicle without a license. Morales defaulted, did not show up to court to answer for the charges and warrants were issued. Both charges were dismissed on May 1, 2001.

On Aug. 23, 1995 Morales was arraigned in Brookline District Court and charged with a compulsory insurance violation. The case was closed on Sept. 22, 1995 when the case was ruled nolle prosequi, which means the charges were dismissed as if they had never been brought because of insufficient evidence.

On May 24, 1996 Morales was arraigned in Dedham District Court and charged with trespassing. The trial was continued until Aug 7, 1999 and charges were continued without finding, which means the accused does not have a guilty plea entered on his or her record, but must comply with terms of probation. One year later, Morales defaulted on an order to pay court costs and a fine to the victim witness fund and a default warrant was issued. Four days later, the warrant was withdrawn and police dropped the charges on Sept. 3, 1997.

Morales was arraigned on Aug. 12, 1997 in Lynn District Court for disorderly conduct. The trial was continued until Oct. 3, 1997 and the charge was continued without finding. On April 3, 1998 Morales was sentenced to community service and ordered to pay a fine to the witness victim fund.

On Feb. 3, 1998 Morales appeared in court on allegations that he had violated his probation, which was terminated on April 14, 1998.

On Feb. 3, 1998 Morales was in Lynn District Court answering to charges of assault and battery, a possible violation of his probation. The trial was continued and on April 14, 1998 he was found guilty and sentenced to probation. Morales defaulted on paying into the victim witness fund on Aug. 2, 1999, but the default was removed the next day and police dismissed the charge on Dec. 3, 1999.

On April 30, 2001 Morales was arraigned in West Roxbury District Court on charges of malicious destruction of property, attempted larceny, possession of burglarious tools, and breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony. His trial was continued and he was issued a one-year suspended sentence on July 17, 2001. His trial was brought forward on Oct. 12, 2001 because of a probation violation. A judge issued a violation of probation finding and continued the trial to Jan. 17, 2003 at which time Morales was ordered to pay into the victim witness fund and his probation was terminated.

On Oct. 12, 2001 Morales was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, attaching the wrong motor vehicle plates, and compulsory insurance violation. A judge ordered him to pay court costs for all three charges and the trial was continued to March 4, 2002. Morales defaulted, the default was removed, and the trial was continued to June 24, 2002. Morales defaulted again, but the default was removed on July 2, 2002 and the charges were dismissed.

On June 4, 2004 Morales was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license in Roxbury District Court. The trial was continued to Aug. 12, 2004 and a default warrant was issued when Morales did not show up. The default was removed on Sept. 14, 2004 and the trial was continued to Nov. 30, 2004. Morales again defaulted, the default was removed on Feb. 18, 2005 and the trial continued to April 29, 2005, when he defaulted again and a warrant was issued. On Dec. 1, 2005 the default was removed and the charge was dismissed.

On Oct. 14, 2004 Morales was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license and knowingly receiving stolen property (a motor vehicle) in Somerville District Court. He had a jury trial and was found guilty of the license violation on Sept. 28, 2005. The other charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to a 10-day suspended sentence, which was terminated on Nov. 30, 2005.

On Nov. 17, 2005 Morales was arraigned on the charge of operating a vehicle with a suspended license in Concord District Court. He was in court on Dec. 27, 2005; Jan. 30, 2006; and on March 7, 2006 he was found guilty. Morales was sentenced to supervised probation and received a 10-day suspended sentence. He was ordered to pay a fine to the victim witness fund on Sept. 6, 2006 and defaulted on Oct. 31, 2006.

On May 29, 2007 Morales was arraigned from his hospital bed at Massachusetts General Hospital for Somerville District Court on the following charges: motor vehicular homicide by negligent operation, failure to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, speeding, larceny of a motor vehicle, operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license (subsequent offense), 10 counts of failure to stop or yield, marked lanes violation, breakdown lane violation, motor vehicle lights violation, improper turn. He was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail and a pre-trial conference has been scheduled for Jun 29, 2007.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING (and back in the news…)

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Wishing you and your families an incredibly

HAPPY (and safe) THANKSGIVING!!

I give special thanks for each you who support our mission to save the lives of innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers.

Don’t eat too much turkey today – that way you can eat even MORE PIE!

Jon
PS: One more thing to give thanks for today – being the opening sentence in a national paper editorial. Thank you Louisville Courier Journal (@courierjournal) and also to reporters Mandy McLaren (@mandy_mclaren) and Matt Glowicki (@MattGlo) for their excellent work.

Editorial: Louisville must restrict police chases before more people are hurt, killed

The Courier Journal Editorial Board
Published 2:43 p.m. ET Nov. 22, 2019

Jon Farris asked the right question.

How would you feel if you got a phone call saying your son or daughter (or husband or wife or mother or father) was killed because of a high-speed police chase — a chase that was unnecessary because no lives were in danger?

Devastated? Confused? Furious?

Farris’ son died during such a chase. And in the last three years, seven people in Louisville were killed in police pursuits.  READ THE REST OF THE STORY

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Thinking About Squad Cars and Guns

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Thinking about cars and guns

by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
May 27, 2019

Once again I awoke suddenly, shivering in a cold sweat. I had that vision – of the Taxi.  Damn.

The Taxi photo courtesy Fox 25 News, Boston . May 27, 2007

The Taxi photo courtesy Fox 25 News, Boston . May 27, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brain was spinning out of control.  So. Many. Questions.  The first batch were those same questions I’ve asked over and over and over again, virtually every day since Paul was killed.

  • Why didn’t Morales (the creep who killed my son) just stop?
  • Why did the State Trooper pursue for a simple misdemeanor traffic violation?
  • Did the Trooper or Morales even consider the crowded neighborhoods and dangers?
  • Why did this Trooper continue a 76 MPH pursuit into Somerville and its narrow streets, a city with a violent felony only pursuit policy?
    • Even the Somerville Police told me THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CHASED.
  • Why?  Why?  So many “whys”

For some odd wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night reason, all I could think about was how Paul was killed. And a bizarre analogy, visiting me yet again, would not go away.

Paul was killed by a 4,600 pound bullet. A bullet propelled not by a gun, but by a vehicular police chase.

Think about it. Paul’s death-by-police-pursuit is no different than if he had been shot by a police officer-fired stray bullet.

I wonder how much outrage a shooting would have sparked?  And how many policing policies might have changed to ensure such an event didn’t happen to another bystander?

Think about the annual training that officers receive with their firearms. This even though many (most) will never draw the gun from their holster other than for range practice. Yet all officers hop behind the wheel of their squad car every day. And for most of them, tactical driver training has been nothing less than abysmal, with perhaps a few hours of pursuit driving on a closed track every couple of years.

I’ll expound on the squad car-gun analogy another day, but today is for Paul.

When Paul was killed, as in nearly every pursuit situation, the criminal and the officer each had an opportunity to deescalate the situation before the collision. But neither was willing to give up.

Run; run; chase; chase.

And so whether death was from a police-pursued fleeing car or from a stray bullet, Paul and Walid paid the ultimate price.

May 27, 2019 marks the twelfth anniversary of Paul’s death. It marks the anniversary of a crumpled taxi photograph seared painfully into my conscious and subconscious mind.

It marks a new lifetime of working to correct an ongoing injustice. By preserving Paul’s memory and attempting to safeguard others through increased awareness of dangerous and unnecessary police pursuits, perhaps his story will survive.

I wish I could say happy anniversary…

I love you, Paul.

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Where There Is Life There Is Hope

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Where there is life, there is hope. 

Sometimes these are only strong words, but not in the case of Elber Twomey.

On May 5, 2019 I was contacted by Becky Newman, Chief Inspector, Police Adviser for the Home Office Security Science & Innovation and Defence Science Technology Laboratory in West Sussex, United Kingdom. It seems Ms. Newman is actively involved with the UK’s police pursuit policies and pursuit reduction activities. It was quite an honor to have a law enforcement professional reach out across the Atlantic.

Ms Newman also connected me with Elber Twomey, a mom and a loving wife.

Elber was living a peaceful existence with her husband Con, her 16-month-old son Baba Oisín, and was happily pregnant with a daughter. But like so many of my posts, this story took an incredibly tragic path in 2012.

In July 2012, the Twomey’s became innocent victims of a man determined to commit suicide in his vehicle. That despondent, speeding person was being followed (chased?) by a police officer.

Baba Oisín and his unborn sister both died within a day of the crash. And if that wasn’t enough, Elber’s husband Con passed away less than a year later, in May 2013.

Elber lost her whole family. Her children. Her soulmate. Yet she has persevered.

I encourage you to read and share Elber’s story. Because her incredible strength and caring shows that indeed, where there is life, there is hope. 

 

Here is a brief summary of the event that changed Elber’s life. https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crash-couple-had-named-unborn-girl-after-mum-26874473.html

Crash couple had named unborn girl after mum

Ralph Riegel  

THE couple fighting for their lives after an horrific crash that killed their 16-month-old son had already picked a name for their unborn baby girl, who also died.

The little girl — who was to be named ‘Elber Marie’ after her scheduled birth next December — has been hailed by heartbroken relatives as “an angel”.

Con (39) and Elber (36) Twomey remain in a critical condition in a Devon hospital, following the head-on collision outside Torquay, in Britain, last Friday.

A 20-year old Polish man — who apparently drove directly at high speed into the path of the Twomeys’ Volkswagen Golf — also died.

Devon police have not released the man’s name — although he is now the focus of a probe by its major crime unit.

Toxicology tests on the young Pole and his state of mind at the time are now central to the investigation.

Police are also examining an apparent suicide note left by the young man.

In an emotional statement yesterday, the Twomey family said that only faith and the support of so many people was helping them to cope.

The Twomey’s little boy, Oisin (aged 16 months), died in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth just an hour after the collision, despite desperate efforts by doctors to save him. His unborn baby sister died after an emergency operation to deliver her.

Elber Twomey was five months pregnant and she and Con had already picked the name ‘Elber Marie’ for their unborn baby girl. “She was born an angel,” the Twomey family said.

“Con and Elber, a devoted husband and wife, father and mother to Oisin — the light of their lives — are in the thoughts and prayers of everyone who knew them.

“The shock of the events last Friday afternoon are still so raw and heartfelt. Con and Elber always came together. The pride they had in the life shared with Oisin was obvious to all.

Shock

“The expectation they had of the child that Elber carried adding to this happiness was also so real. As they lie ill, this loss is so hard to take.”

Elber’s parents, Timmy and Rita, as well as Con’s sisters, Michelle and Colette, have maintained a vigil by their hospital bedsides.

Today, Newmarket parish priest, Fr Dave Herlihy, who married the couple, will travel to Derriford to show his support for the Twomey family.

Last night, the Twomeys paid a heartfelt thanks to the community. They said: “Embedded in their home community, Meelin and Rockchapel Parish in north-west Cork, Con and Elber were involved in all aspects of its life, from the GAA to local events. Both were always together attending, supporting their friends, neighbours and relatives.

“Their faith (was) always evident, with a proactive involvement in the church. At this time, we, their family and friends, pray that this faith is rewarded with a real recovery.

“We pray, too, for Oisin and baby Elber Marie, born an angel. We ask for the privacy of the families at this time to be respected, so we can focus on helping them in the long recovery ahead.”

The tragedy occurred at 2.45pm last Friday at Hamelin Way outside Torquay, when a Vauxhall Vectra veered directly into the path of the Volkswagen Golf that was carrying the Twomeys.

A police officer witnessed the collision — though police were not chasing the young Pole’s car at the time.

Such was the force of the collision that the main road was closed for over 10 hours and 25 emergency units — including three air ambulances — attended the scene.

Now spend some time on Elber’s site and see how, even with all this pain and sorrow, is working to create POSITIVE CHANGES. Amazing.


ORIGINAL WEBSITE IS HERE: https://elbertwomey.com/

2012_0316Oisín0008

My name is Elber Twomey. Myself and my two Beautiful Boys went on holiday in July 2012. We were an extremely happy family treating ourselves to a ten day holiday in Devon. We chose the Devon, the sunny south west for our holiday as personally I was afraid to fly as I was five months pregnant with our beautiful little lady. Taking our car also gave us the luxury of bringing lots of Baba Oisín’s toys etc., so we literally could have a home away from home. We had 6 fabulously carefree days together. Regretfully on July 6th, day seven of our holiday at 2:47 PM tragedy struck us and our wonderful life ended. We were involved in a horrific crash. This poor driver RIP was suicidal and was being followed at speed by a Police Officer. Our tragic crash claimed the lives of our beautiful little man Baba Oisín and his beautiful unborn sister.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crash-couple-had-named-unborn-girl-after-mum-26874473.html

Twomey-family-crash-site-in-Devon

If that wasn’t tragic enough it also claimed the life of My Darling Husband and Best Friend Con on May 3rd 2013.
……. I Lost My Everybody!
They had too short a time together
http://www.independent.ie/regionals/corkman/news/they-had-too-short-a-time-together-29256579.html

I am Campaigning that All Gardaí/Police Officers will receive specific training in Suicide Awareness & how to Apprehend Suicidal Drivers. It’s to Help the Garda/Police Officer & the Suicidal Soul.

My reason for doing this is to try to help to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to another innocent family. I want to try to achieve a simple thing, to try to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen here!!

The  following is a link to TV3 Disclosure ‘The Elber Twomey Story’.

 

This documentary tells our horrific story with regard to the tragic events that led to our crash on July 6th 2012 and indeed how it led me to campaign for suicide awareness training for all our Gardaí, Police Officers in the UK and beyond, and that my hope is that they will address the suicidal driver in this training. My thinking being that this training is to help and support the Garda/Police Officer who is faced with such a stressful situation along with hopefully helping the suicidal person that they may encounter.

It includes great interviews with my brother Tomás, close friends of Con’s, Thomas and Michael, wonderful nurses from Torbay Hospital who looked after us in the aftermath of our crash, along with Chief Superintendent Jim Nye of Devon & Cornwall Police and Superintendent Patrick McCabe from the Garda Training College in Templemore in Ireland.

It also features great moments from our http://www.twomeyfamilyremorial.comweekend which we run in June. The aim of the weekend is to Remember with Love and to Honour Con, Baba Oisín & Baby Elber-Marie & to promote the reality of how precious life is. The funds we raise from our weekend have gone to help the Hospitals who looked after us following the crash, Brú Columbanus in Cork who provide home from home accommodation for relatives of seriously ill patients in the Cork hospitals along with great suicide support groups – Reach Out, 3T’s, Samaritans in Cork & Pieta House.

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Two More Innocent Citizens Die – For A Stolen Car Police Chase

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This story plays out EVERY SINGLE DAY across the US. Police chasing stolen vehicles and ALWAYS endangering innocent bystanders. In this case, Maria and Rosemary had to die so policy could chase. When will this stupidity end?

 

ORIGINAL KSN.com STORY AND VIDEO HERE: https://www.ksn.com/news/local/woman-and-girl-killed-in-crash-involving-fleeing-vehicle-identified/1980972004

Woman and girl killed in crash involving fleeing vehicle identified

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police tell KSN that a 12-year-old girl and 70-year-old woman died after a multi-car crash in downtown Wichita. It happened just before 2 p.m. Sunday at Douglas and Broadway.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, a 2001 BMW with two people inside was fleeing from Wichita police on Broadway heading southbound.

At the intersection, the BMW struck a 1998 Toyota with three people inside on the drivers side. The Toyota spun out and struck another Chevy with one person.

The woman and girl who died in the crash are identified as 70-year-old Maria Wood and 12-year-old Rosemary McElroy. Both are from Wichita and were in the Toyota. Another woman, 36-year-old Jennifer Wood, was injured and transported to the hospital.

The two people in the BMW, 24-year-old Mia Collins and 38-year-old Christopher English, were transported to the hospital.

A driver of the Chevy, 65-year-old Alfred Angel, was also taken to the hospital.

Captain Jeff Weible says the two suspects accused of causing the crash are in the hospital.

The crash spawned from a car chase, when officers saw an alleged stolen vehicle at the 1000 block of North Broadway.

“As they were trying to turn around to follow the vehicle, the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed,” said Capt. Weible, Wichita Police Department.

Some people who work nearby said they keep replaying the scene in their mind. Legend Journey works inside a building right next to where the crash happened. She was emotional as she recalled what she saw.

“I just walked up to the window, and I saw her feet,” said Journey. “So, I ran away from the window. Just to know that it was right outside where I work and they wanted us to keep working.”

Police are still investigating. KSN hopes to learn more later todya.

“When we have an incident of this magnitude, we’re going to review it thoroughly to make sure we not only follow policy but state law,” said Capt. Weible.

While witnesses said they’re thinking of the families involved, they said they’re also trying to process what they saw.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” said Journey. “It kind of makes me angry because is stealing a car really worth two people’s lives?”

The areas from Topeka to Market on Douglas and from William to 1st Street on Broadway were shut down for several hours.

 

A follow-up story printed in the Wichita Eagle is here: https://www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article230076459.html

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Seat Belt Violation Pursuit Injures Innocent Bystanders

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Police Chases For Misdemeanor Traffic Violations MUST STOP!

Independence Missouri is like way too many other jurisdictions. They allow officers virtually unlimited ability to engage in very dangerous, high speed police chases through city streets. And in cities like this, each and every day innocent citizens are injured and killed.

The answer is simple. STOP pursuing for misdemeanors and simple property crimes. Only pursue for violent felonies, and only then if no other safer options are available.
More training is necessary. Greater usage of technology tools is encouraged. And law enforcement MUST be held accountable for making poor decisions that injure or kill innocents.

Following is an excellent report by Cat Reid at television station KSHB 41. Go to their site and watch the video. Bad decisions abound, especially running at 80 MPH with a mud-streaked windshield. It is horrible that two innocent people were grievously injured, but tell me the pursuing officer could have seen a kid running into the street. It is actually amazing that no one was killed.



ORIGINAL STORY AND VIDEOS HERE:  https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/innocent-bystanders-injured-in-independence-police-chase-over-seat-belt-violation

Innocent bystanders injured in Independence police chase over seat belt violation

IPD policy allows pursuits for any crime
Posted: 11:00 AM, Apr 25, 2019
Updated: 5:29 AM, Apr 26, 2019

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — On a Saturday afternoon in January, Sherry Ross decided to drive her 91-year-old father to Mass.

“He was going, ‘you didn’t have to pick me up for church,’ and I said, ‘Dad, you don’t need to be driving when I can drive you,’” Ross said, remembering that day.

Just a few minutes later, Ross heard sirens near the intersection of Sterling Avenue and Blue Ridge Boulevard. Her father saw what was coming and tried to verbalize a warning.

“He yelled ‘watch,’ but he never got ‘out’ out,” Ross said.

The driver of a maroon pickup truck ran a red light and slammed into Ross’s small SUV, totaling it. Ross walked away with a broken sternum, while her dad suffered a broken sternum, eight broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Independence police chase-Sherry Ross

Contributed photo
Sherry Ross and her 91-year-old father were badly injured when the driver of a pickup truck ran a red light and slammed into their small SUV. The crash occurred during a high-speed chase that Independence police initiated over a minor traffic violation.

Later, Ross would learn what had happened that day was more than just a horrific crash.

“It was awful, but I think what was so frustrating then was knowing it was a chase,” Ross said.

An Independence police officer attempted a traffic stop on Jan. 26 near the intersection of 23rd Street and Harvard Avenue. The officer’s dashboard camera video shows the suspect took off down Harvard, a quiet neighborhood street.

When the driver hit a dead end on 25th Street, he quickly reversed toward Sterling Avenue. As the man, later identified as James W. Mathis, tried to turn around, his tires became stuck in a muddy lot. Eventually he was able to drive off, spewing mud across the officer’s windshield in the process.

It’s hard to see what happened next, since the windshield wipers on the patrol car smeared the mud, impairing visibility in the video. However, according to a police report, the chase continued down Sterling Avenue, with Mathis running two red lights and reaching speeds of 84 miles per hour.

The four-minute pursuit ended as he ran a third light, crashing into Ross’s car.

The chase that ended in the crash, injuring Ross and her father, was initiated over a traffic violation. The officer said Mathis wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

“I was livid,” Ross said about learning the reason for the pursuit.

Her niece, Angela Angotti, felt the same way.

“We have to count on the law enforcement professionals to be calm and to make good decisions,” Angotti said, “and to have a police chase over a seat belt violation just seems unnecessary. It’s an unnecessary risk.”

Independence pursuit policy

Both Independence and Kansas City, Kansas, police allow pursuits for any crime.

Sherry Ross and her father are not the first people injured as a result of those chases. Over a five-year period, Independence pursuits led to $1.1 million in payouts for property damage and lawsuit settlements.

In 2014, the KCK Police Department settled two lawsuits related to pursuits for $625,000.

Multiple requests for interviews with the chiefs of both departments went unanswered.

An IPD spokesman did respond to some questions via email,  emphasizing that the collateral damage of chases rests on the shoulders of suspects.

“It is the criminal who places the public at risk and puts themselves in danger for failing to lawfully comply with the vehicle stop,” Independence police spokesman John Syme said in the email. “Police officers are attempting to prevent crime and protect society.”

Syme declined to provide specifics on the pursuit involving Ross and her father, citing the potential for litigation in the case.

According to the Independence pursuit policy, “pursuits for traffic violations or for misdemeanors will be avoided or terminated if they pose unnecessary risk to life or property.”

 

When Syme sat down with 41 Action News in February 2018, he tried to explain why the department allows pursuits for such minor crimes.

“Oftentimes you’ll hear a pursuit immediately terminated if it’s just for traffic violations,” he said at the time. “But we also know that something that appears to be traffic at first, maybe just someone running a red light, could be indicative of something much more serious. Maybe they just committed a crime.”

That logic doesn’t hold up in the eyes of University of South Carolina professor Geoffrey Alpert, who has been studying high-risk police activities, including pursuits, for more than 30 years.

“You can’t justify a pursuit based on what you think or based on what you might know,” he said.

A model policy

Through his years of research, Alpert came to the conclusion that department’s policies have to draw a clear line in the sand.

“I think it’s important for management, the chief or the sheriff, to come in and say if you’re not chasing for a violent crime, then it’s not worth it,” he said.

Alpert points to the New Orleans Police Department’s policy as a model for other agencies. That policy allows for pursuits only when officers have “reasonable suspicion that a fleeing suspect has committed or has attempted to commit a crime of violence…and the escape of the subject would pose an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person.”

In the policy, a crime of violence is defined as “a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily injury or death.”

The NOPD policy prohibits pursuits for property and misdemeanor offenses and traffic or civil infractions.

Alpert argues such a policy is not only safer for the public, but also better for officers, who have mere seconds to make hard choices.

“It’s just not fair to the officers to force them to make all those decisions. I think management should do it from the boardroom,” he said.

Experts say another important attribute of any policy is the inclusion of an independent third party that can make the call on whether or not to pursue.

“As strange as it may sound, it sort of takes the heat off of the officer for that feeling of saying I just let somebody go. It wasn’t their decision,” said John Hamilton, an associate professor of criminal justice at Park University.

The IPD’s pursuit policy states that “the decision to initiate a vehicular pursuit rests with the individual officer.” However, a supervisor can terminate the chase at any time.

In 2018, 66 percent of initiated pursuits were terminated, with the majority of those decisions being made by the officers behind the wheel, according to IPD.

A call for change

It’s unclear why the department allowed the chase that injured Ross and her father to continue.

After the crash, officers determined James Mathis’s girlfriend and his 7-year-old son were in the backseat during the pursuit, according to the police report. Neither was wearing a seat belt during the chase, and Mathis was charged with endangerment of a child.

Independence police pursuit - Mathis car

Contributed photo
A pickup truck driven by James Mathis slammed into a small SUV following a police chase that reached speeds of 84 mph. Independence police initiated the pursuit over a seat belt violation.

Police said they found 0.2 grams of marijuana in the center console of the truck, as well as drug paraphernalia, including a glass pipe and scale. According to the police report, an officer also found 1.4 grams of meth and a pipe in Mathis’s jeans pocket.

Before the chase, his record only reflected two traffic warrants and a revoked license. Now he’s facing charges for fleeing and for the crash.

For Sherry Ross, the end doesn’t justify the means.

“Something’s got to change,” she said.

The family is determined to see that happen. Angotti is an attorney and knows that one way to fight the issue is in court.

But she doesn’t want to sue the city of Independence. Instead, she wants her family compensated and the pursuit policy changed.

“It would be nice if it didn’t have to go this way this time, and if we can do something and use this to help other people,” she said.

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More About Milwaukee’s Dangerous Pursuit Policies

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More About Milwaukee’s Dangerous Pursuit Policies

More and more people are recognizing the highly political nature of Milwaukee’s “pursue for any reason until the wheels fall off” police chase changes. Officers are dying. Innocent citizens are dying. Fleeing vehicles are screaming down Milwaukee’s densely populated neighborhoods at 75 miles per hour and faster – putting EVERYONE at risk. And in 2018, MPD was doing this THREE TIMES EVERY SINGLE DAY.

This is insanity. This is not working. This is killing people. And this needs to stop.

If it takes replacing Aldermen and members of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, then I encourage Milwaukee voters to do something about it.

Do it before some you love is killed unnecessarily.

Thanks to Urban Milwaukee reporter Bruce Murphy for reaching out to me and for writing this thoughtful article about Milwaukee’s out of control police pursuits.

 

ORIGINAL STORY AT: https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2019/04/25/murphys-law-are-police-pursuits-out-of-control/

MURPHY’S LAW
Bruce Murphy

Are Police Pursuits Out of Control?

Massive increase in high-speed chases under the new policy. Results are scary.

By  – Apr 25th, 2019 11:38 am

Last week Saturday another person was killed after high-speed police chase. A Fox 6 report included a cell phone video of the police car barreling down a city street and covered the resulting carnage that occurred.

This was in response to what police believed was “drug dealing” with no further information offered. The police did not say the person chased was suspected of committing any violence, which would be consistent with most such chases in America, which are in response to non-violent offenses, typically traffic violations. 

The 27-year-old man being chased sped through a stop sign, crashing into another vehicle and then careening into a home, where his car burst into flames and ignited the house. “The vehicle sheered the gas main to the house, creating a very dangerous situation inside the house,” said Battalion Chief Erich Roden, Milwaukee Fire Department.

The man being chased was killed and the driver he hit was injured. “Jazzmine Salaam says the speeding vehicle smashed into her cousin driving an SUV at the intersection of 13th and Capitol. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries,” as Fox 6 reported. 

David Miller, the homeowner, might have been killed but wasn’t at home at the time. He described the explosion to Channel 12, saying it “busted all my windows, everything melted… the TV melted. I lost about 20 good guitars.”  

Miller is “still in shock,” says his brother and his home, which was uninsured, is almost completely destroyed. The brother has just launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for a new home.

All told that’s one person killed, one injured and one in shock with an incinerated home, all to capture one guy who may have been involved in a drug deal. That’s how Milwaukee’s police pursuit policy works these days. 

Last year, Milwaukee police engaged in 940 chases, nearly triple the number in 2017, and well more than the total number of pursuits for the seven year period from 2008 through 2014, when there were 858 pursuits. These numbers come from a new report by the Fire and Police Commission (FPC).

Slightly more than half of the pursuits in 2018 — 491 — hit a speed of more than 75 miles per hour, and most were on city streets. The percent of police chases that exceeded 75 miles per hour has risen from just 10 percent in 2012 to 52 percent last year, the report found. 

About 18 percent of the chases terminated in a car crash and 25 percent caused a car accident. Thirteen officers were injured during the pursuits, one fatally, 112 people being chased were injured, five of whom died and 38 bystanders were injured. 

Yet only 21 percent of the pursuits involved a violent felony. Most — nearly 70 percent — involved a traffic violation or reckless vehicle.

And the vast majority of pursuits didn’t catch the subject: Just 38 percent of the pursuits resulted in apprehensions. 

The skyrocketing increase in pursuits is the direct result of a new policy pushed for in 2017 by Milwaukee Common Council members. A letter from 13 of 15 council members noted a rise in killings by hit-and-run drivers, and also claimed that speeding, red light-running and reckless driving were occurring at record levels.

Then-Police Chief Edward A. Flynn opposed any change in the pursuit policy. 

He had already strengthened the pursuit policy in 2015, which allowed police to chase if either the vehicle or occupants had been involved in a felony or attempted felony, or if the vehicle or occupant(s) presents a clear and immediate threat to the safety of others,” which appeared to target reckless driving. 

The result was a significant increase in pursuits, to 263 in 2015 and 306 in 2016 — more pursuits than in any year since 2002. But the council wanted still more pursuits and so the Fire and Police Commission ordered a stronger policy.  

A new policy created in September 2017 added language allowing a chase if “the occupant(s) of the vehicle are engaged in drug dealing” and if “the necessity of immediate apprehension outweighs the level of danger created by the vehicle pursuit, as in the case of the vehicle engaging in reckless driving.” 

The resulting massive increase in pursuits doesn’t seem to have done much about the hit-and-runs and speeding cited by council members: in 2018 crashes caused by speeding were up by 32 percent and crashes caused by hit-and-run drivers rose 17 percent, the latest police report shows.

Flynn’s successor, Police Chief Alfonso Morales, said the increased pursuits have led to a drop in vehicle theft, carjackings and violent crime. “Is it dangerous? Absolutely it is,” as Morales described the pursuits to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But we’re always looking for an alternative way to make it safer.”

Actually the department had an alternative. Under Flynn it had adopted new technology developed by a private company called Star Chase, whereby police shoot at GPS “bullet” about the size of a soup can that can stick to a fleeing car. A 2014 report found it is effective in 55 percent of cases, meaning it sticks to a car and an arrest is later made. That compares to the apprehension rate of 38 percent for last year’s 940 chases.

“During the year 2016 MPD deployed this technology 156 times, successfully attaching it to fleeing vehicles 112 times,” a past FPC report noted. 

The approach enables police to avoid high-speed chases that often are aggressive adrenaline-fueled contests between officers and a suspect that lose track of innocent bystanders in a dense urban setting. “Studies show they almost go into pure tunnel vision when they begin a pursuit. The adrenaline kicks in,” said Jonathan Farris, a pursuit-safety advocate who lives in Madison, WI, in a story by McClatchey.

Whereas the Star Chase devices “give officers time to [let the adrenaline high pass], so by the time the pursuit is over, they can think more clearly and make better tactical decisions,” as MPD Inspector Terrence Gordon told Governing magazine in 2016. Yet since Flynn left, there has been no discussion of this technology.

A model policy by the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends pursuits “only if the officer has a reasonable belief that the suspect, if allowed to flee, would present a danger to human life or cause serious injury. In general, pursuits for minor violations are discouraged.”

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, whose board of directors consists of police chiefs, told McClatchey there is no evidence that restrictions on pursuits lead to increases in crime and lawlessness. His organization advocates for sharp restrictions on pursuits.

“There are too many cases of people dying needlessly – tragedies that trump whatever the other arguments there are about people perceiving this as getting away with infractions,” Wexler said. “We’re talking about saving lives here.”

Farris, who heads Pursuit for Change, a Wisconsin-based advocacy group for victims of police pursuits, spoke to the Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission in 2017 to urge it not to push for more pursuits. He has since written letters to the commission urging a reconsideration of the policy, with no response. His impression was that the FPC, though it is supposed to be an independent agency, was simply doing the Common Council’s bidding. 

Farris became an advocate after his son was killed in 2007 during a police pursuit in Massachusetts. “My son and his girlfriend were riding in a taxi which was t-boned by an SUV pursued by the police for an illegal U-turn,” he recalled in an interview with Urban Milwaukee. “My son and the taxi driver were killed and the girl spent years in rehabilitation.” 

Farris believes Milwaukee will eventually be forced to change its policy. “They’ve already killed multiple innocent people. There are going to be more people killed and that’s what’s going to inevitably change the policy. Or there will be a humongous lawsuit against the city.”  

Meanwhile keeps your eyes peeled for high speed chases. On average there were nearly three such pursuits per day last year.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

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Milwaukee sees big uptick in police chases

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THIS is NOT success. THIS is FAILURE. Milwaukee #PoliceChase statistics from 2018:

  • 165 individuals in the chased vehicle were injured
  • 22 police employees were injured
  • 38 pursuits ended with an injury to a third party

Milwaukee sees big uptick in police chases after policy changed in 2017

MILWAUKEE — In 2018, the Milwaukee Police Department averaged 18 police chases every week, a big increase from 2017. A new report breaks down what happened after the city changed its pursuit policy. The report looks at how the numbers changed over the last decade, and it’s clear the policy change allowing police officers to pursue reckless drivers had an impact.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission met Thursday, April 18, to discuss the report.

Beginning in September 2017, Milwaukee police officers were allowed to pursue cars engaged in reckless driving or believed to be engaged in drug dealing.

“We have go to have the ability to go after individuals who are wreaking havoc on our streets,” Alderman Bob Donovan said.

Alderman Donovan supported the change, as did Alderman Russel Stamper.

“I was expecting we’d have a safer community and that we’d hold those people that are driving recklessly accountable,” said Alderman Stamper.

Along with the increase in pursuits came an increase in pursuits that ended in a crash — once again, a sharp spike for 2018.

Below are statistics from 2018:

  • 165 individuals in the chased vehicle were injured
  • 22 police employees were injured
  • 38 pursuits ended with an injury to a third party

“I will speak with the chief and ask him, ‘Is this still the best route to go?’ I think so, but we may have to do some tweaking,” Stamper said.

While Stamper said he wants to evaluate the decision, Donovan’s opinion on the policy hasn’t wavered.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the important thing is that the numbers are being tracked closely. “I think that’s the important thing that there’s always a balance between high-speed chases and public safety,” Mayor Barrett said.

The report breaks down a lot of different numbers, including when and where these police chases are happening, and also, what happens with those pursuits that don’t end in a crash. Less than 38 percent of pursuits end with the subject being taken into custody.

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Milwaukee Police Chase Policy Continues To Raise Questions After Deadly Crashes This Month

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More pursuits. More deaths. More injuries. More sorrow. More politics.
Milwaukee (MPD & MFPC & Milwaukee City Council) continues down a dangerous and unsustainable path.

Thanks to reporter Corri Hess for reaching out to us.

Milwaukee Police Chase Policy Continues To Raise Questions After Deadly Crashes This Month

Report Shows Nearly 155 Percent Chase Increase Since 2017 Policy Change

Published: Monday, April 22, 2019, 4:00pm

Photo by Gretchen Brown, WPR

Two high-speed police chases in Milwaukee since April 11 have left two people dead and at least six others injured.

The deadly chases happened the same month a new study was released showing a nearly 155 percent increase in police chases since the Milwaukee Police Department changed its policy in 2017 to allow officers to pursue reckless vehicles.

On Saturday afternoon a 27-year-old man died after a police chase. Milwaukee police were investigating a drug complaint when the driver involved in the suspected matter refused to stop, said city Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson.

The driver, who has not been identified, reportedly flew through a stop sign at North 13th Street and West Capitol Drive at a high rate of speed. After crashing into an SUV, the driver crashed into a vacant house and the car burst into flames, Jackson said in a press release. The house also started on fire.

The driver of the SUV was treated for minor injuries. The suspect did not survive.

In a separate incident, an 18-year-old man died Monday afternoon, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, after the man, who has not been identified, was involved in a police chase Thursday. The chase began after a triple shooting. Six others were injured.

Milwaukee Police Officer Charles Irvine Jr, 23, died in June while he and another officer were pursuing a suspect. The squad car crashed as they chased the suspect on the city’s northwest side.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously in September 2017 to expand the police department’s chase policy to reckless drivers and drug dealers. The change was something former Police Chief Edward Flynn disagreed with, saying at the time, it would endanger more people.

Flynn limited the department’s chase policy in 2010 to officers only being allowed to chase drivers suspected of committing a violent felony after four people were killed in one month.

Jackson did not respond to Wisconsin Public Radio’s request for comment by deadline. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the police department has no plans to change the police pursuit policy.

“We have individuals who are committing major felonies in the city, violent felonies in the city,” Jackson told the Journal Sentinel. “They’re drug dealing, and they’re destroying neighborhoods. So when they take off from officers, we’re going to pursue.”

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman said each chase has its own set of individual circumstances. The best answer is for trained police officers to exercise professional judgment when pursing a chase, he said.

Bauman said increased vehicle crashes were a possibility when the city changed its vehicle pursuit policy, but it had to be done.

“We were getting to the point where there was no accountability for some of the really bad driving that was going around and the bad guys knew it,” Bauman said.

There were 940 police chases in 2018, up from 369 in 2017, according to the study presented Thursday to the city Fire and Police Commission. Twenty-five percent of the chases last year resulted in a traffic accident.

During almost 500 of the chases, the police vehicles were being driven more than 75 mph, according to the report.

About 67 percent of the chases were for reckless vehicles; 21 percent were for violent felonies; and 3 percent were drug related, according to the report.

Jonathan Farris, who heads Pursuit for Change, a Wisconsin-based national police pursuit victims’ advocacy group, believes if Milwaukee doesn’t change its policy, there will be more deaths.

“It just doesn’t make sense to have an officer-decided pursuit policy in a city of the density of Milwaukee,” Farris said. “You see from reports the types of things they are pursing. The vast majority of them are reckless behavior. Well, that’s a pretty tough one to define.”

Farris’ son, Paul Farris, was killed on Memorial Day weekend in 2007 when a fleeing driver being chased by a Massachusetts State Trooper struck the cab Paul and his girlfriend were riding in.

Paul and the cab driver were killed. Paul’s girlfriend was critically injured but survived.

“Their whole policy has set them back 20 years,” Farris said regarding the Milwaukee Police Department. “They’ve lost a police officer, they’ve lost citizens. Ultimately, more innocent citizens are going to die. There is a really good chance more of their police officers are going to die and there is no need for that.”

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Until the wheels fall off

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We are reading about more and more cities pursuing insane numbers of vehicles, the majority of which were for misdemeanors and property crimes.

The stats in this story are telling – it’s a horrible result and a horrible attitude. More innocents WILL DIE.

Until the wheels fall off: St. Ann is proud of its rep for police chases, but there are costs.

 

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MILWAUKEE: 2018 Police Pursuit Statistics. A Sad Story

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MILWAUKEE: 2018 Police Pursuit Statistics

These statistics speak for themselves (and that is NOT good).

Thousands of citizens continue to be put in harm’s way by the Milwaukee Police Department’s out-of-control pursuit policy.

2018 Vehicle Pursuit Report
Overview

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Milwaukee Police Pursuit Policies Continue To Endanger And Kill

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Milwaukee continues to ignore the fact that they are endangering citizens every single day. How many more will die before they fix their pursuit policies?

 

Man dead after police chase ends in crash, fire near 13th and Capitol

MILWAUKEE — A 27-year-old man is dead after a Milwaukee police pursuit, that stemmed from a drug complaint, led to a fatal crash near 13th and Capitol on Saturday, April 20.

Home surveillance reveals the moments the speeding vehicle led police on the chase.

“The vehicle burst into flames and ignited the house,” said Milwaukee Police Inspector Jutiki Jackson.

Firefighters rushed to the scene. Vehicle into house near 13th and Capitol in Milwaukee

“The vehicle sheered the gas main to the house, creating a very dangerous situation inside the house,” said Battalion Chief Erich Roden, Milwaukee Police Department.

Police say the chase began as a drug complaint investigation near 40th and Auer.

Officers observed a vehicle that they believed to be involved in a drug dealing complaint and attempted to stop it,” Jackson said.

Jazzmine Salaam says the speeding vehicle smashed into her cousin driving an SUV at the intersection of 13th and Capitol. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

“She called and said she was in a car accident. I came as fast as I could,” Salaam said.

Salaam says her cousin was running errands when a car came out of nowhere.

“She was just going to Walgreens, going to get medicine and got hit,” Salaam said.

A chase ending in crash and chaotic scene. A sight some hope to never see again.

“Everybody should slow down so we can enjoy our summer because it doesn’t last long,” Salaam said.

The driver of the fleeing vehicle was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

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Ohio Police Pursuit Legislation

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Model Pursuit Policy & Harsher Penalties

Dear Representative Plummer.

I applaud your efforts to reduce injuries and deaths of innocent Ohio citizens caught up in unnecessary non-violent felony police chases. Ohio
has, sadly, pursuistories in media nearly every single day.

Your career as a law enforcement professional and now state representative place you in an incredible position to make a true difference. And I
want to offer any support that I can.
My son was killed in 2007. an innocent bystander killed as the result of a pursuit after a man who made an illegal u-tum and then fled the police. In addition to my son, a taxi driver was killed and my son’s girlfriend spent months in the hospital and years in rehab. NONE OF THIS WAS NECESSARY. yet ii is occurring many. many times every day.

One FBI study estimated nearly 68,000 pursuits across the US in a single year. And 90% of those are for misdemeanors or property crimes. Our organization, Pursuit For Change (https://pursultforchange.org) ls working to reduce non-violent felony pursuits and to provide support for law enforcement – gaining them knowledge of and access to funding for pursuireduction technology and the newest driver training options.

As you have pointed out, the issue of so many different cross jurisdictional pursuit policies only confuses the issues more. A single, more restrictive state policy will certainly SAVE LIVES.

Please feel free to reach out if can be or any help. have the support of many law enforcement officers, including major cities chiefs. Thank you again for recognizing this problem and, rather than ignoring it or hoping for it to go away, taking proactive steps to reduce Ohio citizen injuries and deaths.

Kindest regards.

Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate
Pursuit For Change

 

Double-fatal police chase: Pursuits ‘2nd most dangerous thing’ for cops

Original Story: https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/double-fatal-police-chase-pursuits-2nd-most-dangerous-thing-for-cops/KzTneFfbVmvdAc1sJObOII/

Ohio governor, local lawmaker talk about legislation regarding fleeing drivers.

The state representative who served a decade as Montgomery County sheriff talked this week with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine about new standards for police pursuits and stiffer sentences for those who trigger them.

State Rep. Phil Plummer said uniform pursuit rules would increase public safety for an action that has led to at least five local deaths in the past year.

A pair of teens – one of which was a 15-year-old girl whose name was released Tuesday – were killed while riding Sunday in Trotwood in a speeding, fleeing car that hit a Greater Dayton RTA bus after a failed police traffic stop.

RELATED: Double-fatal crash with RTA bus latest deadly wreck involving area police chases

“Chases are the second most dangerous thing a law enforcement officer does. Number 1 is discharging a firearm,” Plummer said.

“We’re very well-trained. We have strict policies on discharging a firearm,” he said. “But unfortunately, our chase policies, they’re all over the place. They’re like spilled milk.”

The 40th District Republican said he spoke with the governor about proposing legislation using a state report DeWine once commissioned as Ohio attorney general after a 2016 fatal, high-speed Huber Heights police pursuit that ended with the death of a third-party driver.

“There are different policies in different jurisdictions,” Plummer said. “So it’s very confusing when a chase occurs: Can this jurisdiction engage? Can they not? Dispatchers are trying to vet all of this while they’re sending in help and resources. It’s very complicated.”

RELATED: Latest deadly police chase: ‘We’re just killing too many innocent people’

Plummer said he’s not locked in to having a statewide pursuit policy.

“I’d like to see at least a countywide…general pursuit policy that we all understand and follow,” he said.

The 2017 task force report issued by the attorney general’s office under DeWine went to Ohio’s nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies with a list of “best practices” of when and how to pursue.

Under the initiation of pursuit procedures, the advisory group’s report states, “the policy should distinguish violent felonies and property offenses, or OVIs and traffic violations.”

Why Trotwood police sought to stop a Pontiac on Free Pike on Sunday has not been publicly released. Police Chief Erik Wilson spoke only briefly Sunday about what led up to the wreck.

RELATED: Judge: Deadly police chase defendant ‘lit the fuse’ for Lebanon Realtor’s death

The Dayton Daily News on Monday requested police reports, cruiser and traffic cameras, and additional information about the crash, but Trotwood police as of Tuesday afternoon did not provide any new information on the case.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office on Tuesday identified Mya’nie Nabors, a 15-year-old Trotwood-Madison student, as a fatality in the crash that also killed Kyren Wright, 18, of Dayton.

They died after the car – driven at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour by Christopher Baker, 18, of Dayton – hit the RTA bus, causing the car to burst into flames, authorities said.

The rate of speeds for police vehicles in pursuits should be tempered by the seriousness of the crime, said Thomas Hagel, professor emeritus at the University of Dayton Law School.

RELATED: Car in deadly police chase ‘torn in 3 pieces,’ back seat in Dayton field

In cases of violent crimes, he said, “then I think the officer should have a wider discretion on initiating a chase and….speeds.”

However, “Once an officer has initiated a chase, he has created two sources of danger. One is the fleeing vehicle as well as his vehicle,” Hagel said.

Plummer went a bit further.

“It’s not worth chasing anybody right now if it’s not a violent felony,” he said.

The punishment for those who flee law enforcement officers is an important consideration for new guidelines, Plummer said.

RELATED: A woman’s death following a police pursuit has again raised questions about chasing fleeing vehicles

The basic offense of fleeing or eluding is considered a first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, although fleeing or eluding also can be a felony under some circumstances. Currently, the penalty for misdemeanor fleeing or eluding is up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Plummer said a better deterrent would be a five-year sentence – with no plea bargains — for those convicted.

He said, “We need the balance. We have to realize, we may kill somebody’s family chasing this one person.”

In September 2018, during a Moraine police pursuit of a vehicle reported stolen, Officer Matt Barrie was within division guidelines and was given the go-ahead by a superior. He reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour on Ohio 741 while chasing a stolen Jeep, records show.

RELATED: Longtime Realtor struck and killed in high-speed police chase

Barrie’s cruiser then collided a car driven by Mary Taulbee, an uninvolved motorist whose vehicle had been hit by another car seeking to avoid the oncoming stolen Jeep, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Alyssa Irwin-Debraux of Dayton was the driver of the stolen Jeep, police records show. She wrecked it minutes later near the Dayton Mall and was arrested.

Earlier this year, she was sentenced to 13 years in prison in connection with Taulbee’s death.

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Grand Forks Pursuits Double

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Again we have LEOs “talking the talk” but not “walking the walk.”

  1. When a suspect runs, the officer has a CHOICE. If the officer pursues, then they started the chase. Period.
  2. When a suspect crashes, even if the pursuit was “called off” before the exact moment of the crash, IT IUS TILL A POLICE-PURSUIT RELATED CRASH, INJURY OR DEATH. There is no other way to paint this in any other fashion.

Dangerous high-speed #PoliceChases as a result of misdemeanor traffic violations are reckless and ALWAYS endanger innocent citizens.

When suspects flee: Herald analysis shows police chases in GF doubled in 2018, resulting in recent high mark

When he was a patrol officer, Grand Forks Police Lt. Derik Zimmel hated being involved in vehicle pursuits.

Chases glorified in TV shows and movies make pursuits appear exciting, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Some portray officers who love pursuits. Zimmel said he can’t speak for all officers, but he doesn’t know any who would choose to be involved in a pursuit if given the choice.

“No pursuit is ever safe,” Zimmel said. “Every pursuit is dangerous, and nobody ever wants to be in one. I don’t want to crash. I don’t want anybody else to crash.”

In Grand Forks, 2018 produced 25 police chases for the Grand Forks Police Department, more than any other year in the last decade, according to numbers from the department. The figure was double the 2017 count of 13, and almost three times the 2008 total of nine, according to a Herald analysis. The 2018 number actually reached 26 when counting an unresolved case involving a person on a bicycle.

The Herald searched records related to every chase that occurred last year in Grand Forks and found at least 10 exceeded 70 mph within city limits, with five reaching or exceeding 100 mph. Six vehicles crashed, resulting in several injuries and one death.

Seventeen of the 25 chases occurred between midnight and 5:16 a.m. Six occurred in a busy span over the final seven weeks of the year.

In several cases, passengers were endangered, including in the December pursuit of Saha Bahaour Darji. According to a police statement, Darji fled on icy roads with two children in the vehicle. In a March pursuit of Michael John Sebjornson, police records indicate a passenger in Sebjornson’s car begged him to stop.

Two patrol cars—one in Grand Forks and the other in East Grand Forks—were damaged by suspects, according to the reports. One person involved in a chase died of injuries sustained in a crash that occurred moments after police called off the pursuit.

Tony James Smith, 33, of Grand Forks crashed his vehicle into a tree near downtown. According to an incident report, Smith fled from officers at approximately 5 a.m. Aug. 2 after a patrol car tried to stop him for expired license plates. Speeds reached 90 mph, and Smith was driving between 59 and 69 mph when he crashed, according to estimates in the report. He died at the scene.

Smith’s death was the first time in a decade that someone died in Grand Forks after an attempted traffic stop. Two people were killed in 2010 after a suspect fled from UND Police and crashed his vehicle into another car.

Other deaths have occurred in the region. A Cavalier, N.D., woman died last year in Pembina County after fleeing deputies and state troopers. A Fargo man succumbed to injuries in 2016 after fleeing state troopers in Cass County.

It’s hard to account for the increase in chases or know why suspects flee, Zimmel said. Police may never know why Smith fled, though officers said they could smell alcohol on his breath when they were performing CPR, and they discovered what appeared to be marijuana on his person, according to the police report.

“Why do people run?” Zimmel asked. “It can be personal, that particular person just doesn’t like police. It could be they have something in the car or on their person that they don’t want us to be in contact with.

“It could be anything. It could be just because they think they can get away with it.”

By the numbers

An official breakdown of 2018’s Grand Forks pursuit numbers likely won’t be finalized until at least the end of February, but the Herald’s analysis showed six vehicles stopped voluntarily, eight crashed or got stuck, two suspects fled on foot after exiting the vehicle and five were either cornered by police, stopped after specialized police maneuvers or were incapacitated with spiked strips. Three drivers escaped and were never found.

Two reports were redacted since the chases involved juveniles or the cases are still active. North Dakota law excludes the names of children and summaries from active cases from open record, preventing the information from being released.

The numbers are not official like those found in assessment reports from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Of the 85 chases the Police Department reported in Grand Forks from 2011 through 2017, 14 resulted in crashes and nine people were injured, including one officer and one third-party person, both in 2012.

The increase in total pursuits is not unique to Grand Forks. Across the Red River, the East Grand Forks Police Department recorded eight pursuits in 2018 as of Dec. 21, the most it has seen in a decade, according to figures obtained through the agency. That was up from five in 2017, but all other years recorded three or fewer pursuits.

The records may not be complete, East Grand Forks Chief Mike Hedlund said, but the preliminary numbers show pursuits in his city produced five injuries and no deaths since 2009.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol had 65 pursuits last year, down from a 10-year high of 94 in 2017 but up from the decade average of 57, according to numbers provided to the Herald.

Two Highway Patrol-related chases in the past three years ended with fatal crashes. On April 28, the Pembina County Sheriff’s Department tried to stop Dena M. Peterson, 45, of Cavalier, N.D., the evening of April 28 for reckless driving. The high-speed chase ended around 8 p.m. near Cavalier with a rollover crash that resulted in her death, according to a news release from the Highway Patrol.

In 2016, Dennis Dean Herr, 63, of Fargo died after he crashed into a bridge rail.

Zimmel called last year’s count for Grand Forks “a significant outlier, when compared to pursuits occurring over the previous 10 years.”

“There is an undeniable upward trend in the number of pursuits, and we are mindful of that trend in ongoing training efforts,” he said.

Officers involved

According to the Herald’s analysis, no single Grand Forks officer initiated an usually high number of chases in 2018. Officers Adam Solar, Daniel Essig and Andrew Ebertowski each initiated three chase-related stops last year, the most by any officer in 2018.

Essig was involved in the most chases, being listed in six police reports. Officers Christopher Brown, Mark Nichols, Solar and Ebertowski each were involved in five. Involvement, however, can mean many things in a police report, ranging from supervisors monitoring the situation from afar, officers joining the chase later or others coming to the scene to assist once the pursuit is over.

Sometimes, public property is damaged.

For example, officers in Grand Forks tried to stop Brent Joseph LaFontaine, 32, of Rolla, N.D., in March for several traffic violations, but the chase was called off after LaFontaine crossed over into East Grand Forks, according to a police report. He crashed into an East Grand Forks Police Department vehicle shortly after that, ending the pursuit, the report said.

LaFontaine later pleaded guilty to charges related to the pursuit, which exceeded 100 mph. The news release said “a motor vehicle crash occurred,” but the release did not give details on the crash. The release also did not note that a police cruiser was damaged.

When asked why that information was not included in the release, Zimmel said his police department “will not typically speak on another agency’s actions or investigation.”

In another instance, Grand Forks Police did declare a patrol vehicle was hit by another suspect in November. Cory Will Hanson, who fled after he failed to stop at a red light, hit a patrol car before colliding with a resident’s porch and fleeing on foot.

‘Reasonable suspicion’

Officers can stop a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion a person broke the law. The range of reasons for initiating a traffic stop are numerous, from basic traffic violations to suspicion of a stolen vehicle.

“We have to have a reason to flip on the overhead lights,” Zimmel said. “When we flip on the overhead lights, our expectation is that someone is going to pull over to the side of the road in a safe manor and wait for contact with us. Sometimes, they don’t.”

The North Dakota Highway Patrol has had a blend of reasons to initiate stops that resulted in pursuits in recent years, said Sgt. Ryan Panasuk, who has served in the Grand Forks region for 11 years.

“Usually, it is a routine traffic violation or a suspected DUI,” he said.

Last year’s list in Grand Forks produced a number of charges, or possible reasons, suspects fled. Driving under suspension accusations were the most common charges brought against drivers involved in a chase; nearly half of the reports cited that charge. The number excludes resulting chase-related charges of fleeing, reckless driving and reckless endangerment.

DUI arrests also were common in the 2018 count for Grand Forks—seven chase suspects went to court for that reason last year.

Officers have to make a decision whether to pursue a fleeing vehicle based on various factors—weather conditions, seriousness of the violation, familiarity with the area, availability of other officers, etc.

“Officers are placed in a difficult situation,” Zimmel said. “While the stop itself may have been initiated for a simple traffic violation, why is such a violation so threatening to the violator that they are compelled to initiate a pursuit? Is there a likelihood that there is far more going on regarding the incident than was initially known? What is the true threat posed regarding pursuing as opposed to not pursuing?”

Zimmel stresses officers don’t start pursuits. It is the driver’s decision to stop or lead officers on a chase.

“I think that’s an important distinction,” he said. “Law enforcement isn’t the one initiating the pursuit. The violators are the ones initiating the pursuit.”

Fatal ends

Some circumstances force an officer or supervisor to call off a chase. Deciding whether to terminate a chase is an ongoing process, Zimmel said.

“The conditions can change moment to moment,” he said. “You have to understand that things start moving awful fast, so it’s a very dynamic situation.”

Officers are asked to be mindful of the changing situations as supervisors monitor the pursuits closely in case they need to be called off, Zimmel said. Officers and supervisors can choose to end a chase if the situation becomes too dangerous.

“All personnel are empowered by directive to do so,” he said. “Continuing a pursuit carries a known risk, while discontinuing a pursuit may carry with it an unknown risk. When the known risk outweighs the likely unknown risk, consideration should be given to discontinuing the pursuit, as several were in 2018.”

From 2011 to 2017, the department terminated 19 chases, according the CALEA report. Three chases were terminated last year, and two were canceled due to dangerous conditions, including the chase before Smith’s death, according to the Herald analysis.

In Smith’s case, the chase was terminated due to time of day, lighting, geographical location and danger to the public, according to the police report.

Zimmel is hesitant to say Smith died in a police chase since officers called off the pursuit before he crashed.

“The (death) in 2018 was certainly related to a pursuit, but the pursuit had been terminated prior to the crash,” Zimmel said. “As a result, I’m not sure that incident can be characterized as the driver ‘dying in a police chase.’ ”

That said, Zimmel, who has been with the Grand Forks Police Department for 21 years, said he can’t recall any of his officers being involved in a pursuit in which someone had died.

The Herald could only trace one instance over the last 10 years in Grand Forks when a police chase directly involved a fatality, but that chase was investigated by the UND Police Department. Officers attempted to pull over Celso Garza near Columbia Road and University Avenue after he ran a red light June 5, 2010. He broadsided a car carrying four young adults, two of whom were killed, according to Herald archives. He had been drinking and there was a warrant out for his arrest.

Garza also hit another car during the chase, which reached speeds of nearly 100 mph. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to court documents.

The ones that got away

In 2018, officers also terminated a pursuit in the early morning hours of Nov. 22 at DeMers Avenue and Washington Street due to safety concerns, a police report said. Officers tried to stop the vehicle because of several traffic violations.

At one point, the suspect in the orange convertible Chevrolet Camaro almost hit another vehicle, the report said.

Speeds hit 100 mph before the chase was called off, with officers stating in a police report there were numerous vehicles and pedestrians in the area of the pursuit. Officers never found the suspect who drove the stolen Camaro for about 3 miles, but the vehicle was recovered, the report said.

The third terminated chase was the one that went into East Grand Forks and left the Grand Forks Police Department’s jurisdiction.

Others simply got away. In June, an officer attempted to stop a red car with no rear lights, according to a report. Speeds reached almost 75 mph, and the officer eventually lost track of the vehicle. The suspect was never found.

Suspects don’t always flee in motor vehicles. For example, officers were unable to find a bicyclist who fled Oct. 24 near downtown, one incident report said.

It’s better to terminate a pursuit and let a suspect go when it is too dangerous to proceed, Zimmel said.

“It’s not worth some pedestrian getting struck and killed or rolling a vehicle and a passenger gets injured, a passenger who might have been asking to be let out of the vehicle in the first place,” he said. “Those are far more tragic than if we just let the person go.”

Such was the case for a passenger in the vehicle of Michael John Sebjornson. The 33-year-old from Grand Forks refused to stop for officers during a chase in March, and police used a specialized maneuver to end the pursuit. One of the passengers later said she begged Sebjornson to stop multiple times during the chase. Another passenger had no idea why he was fleeing.

Real life vs. movies

Police pursuits are glorified in television and movies. Zimmel mentioned “The Fast and the Furious,” a multi-movie franchise that features car races and law-enforcement pursuits. He said those scenarios do not reflect what happens in real life.

“There’s a sense that what you see on TV and in the movies is a reflection of real life,” he said. “Huge issues don’t get solved in 45 minutes plus commercial breaks.

“In a pursuit, you’re driving faster than you want to through an area that perhaps you’d rather not be in. You’re having to think about a thousand things at once.”

The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, a government entity created by the Justice Systems Improvement Act of 1979, said police vehicle pursuits resulted in more than 6,000 fatal crashes from 1996 to 2015, adding up to more than 7,000 pursuit-related deaths. A USA Today analysis from 2015 said more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers died in police car chases since 1979.

Chases are stressful because officers don’t know what they are heading into when they attempt to stop a vehicle, Sheriff Chief Deputy Dave Stromberg said.

In January 2017, Rolette County Deputy Colt Allery and other deputies attempted to stop Melvin Gene Delong, 28, of Belcourt, N.D., in a rural area near Rolette. The chase at times exceeded 80 mph, and when the vehicle finally stopped, Delong fatally shot Allery as the deputy approached the vehicle.

Delong also was killed after officers fired at him.

That incident is in the back of many officers’ minds, Stromberg said.

“Pursuits are very much an unknown,” Stromberg said.

Safety played a key factor in making sure the numerous chases in Grand Forks didn’t end with more injuries or fatalities, Zimmel said, adding the department always considers the well-being of not just the people in the vehicles but the residents in the area of the pursuits.

“I think there is definitely a recognition of the potential hazard there,” said Panasuk, the Highway Patrol sergeant. “If someone is trying to stop you, you just stop.”

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Kansas Law proposes to remove liability for police driving recklessly

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Once again, powerful lobbying groups are simply more concerned with saving money than they are of saving the lives of innocent citizens.  This “problem” could be alleviated if the municipalities adopted significantly more restrictive pursuit policies, increased officer training and introduced new pursuit reduction technology..

 

Bill inspired by high-speed chase in Topeka would remove liability for police

Original story: https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190130/bill-inspired-by-high-speed-chase-in-topeka-would-remove-liability-for-police

Legislation introduced by the Kansas League of Municipalities would strike from state law a requirement for police officers engaged in a high-speed chase to drive with regard for others’ safety.

The proposed change stems from litigation over a 2010 collision in Topeka. A man fleeing an off-duty Capitol Police officer in a stolen car at speeds of 100 mph through city streets crashed into a pickup and seriously injured its two occupants.

district court judge rejected claims contending the officer, Patrick Saleh, didn’t have a valid reason to initiate and continue the high-speed chase. An appellate court reversal pointed to a section of state law that says drivers of emergency vehicles have a duty to consider the safety of everyone.

The case is now before the Kansas Supreme Court.

Amanda Stanley, general counsel for the League of Kansas Municipalities, said the case sparked discussion about state law and whether police pursuits merit an exception. The league wants to remove the obligation to drive with a due regard for safety.

“A law enforcement officer’s pursuit of fleeing offenders is inherent in the officer’s duty to protect the public and often involves split-second decisions that are easy to second guess in retrospect,” Stanley said.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee hearing testimony this week about House Bill 2065 pointed out that, as it stands, the law doesn’t distinguish between police and other operators of emergency vehicles. The same standards appear to apply to ambulance drivers, volunteer firefighters and possibly funeral procession guides.

Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, said the law also seems to apply to other police activity, such as an officer responding to a distress call or bank robbery.

“It’s crazy to have a cop going out here 100 mph inside the City of Topeka limits,” he said. “That would be pretty foolish and reckless.”

Facts of the situation need to be considered, he said. David Morantz, a Kansas City attorney whose firm worked on the case in question, recommended that lawmakers wait for the high court to issue a ruling before they reconfigure state law.

“This bill is either a very subtle way to completely change the law in Kansas and immunize law enforcement officers from even the most reckless conduct,” Morantz said, “or it’s a bill that the proponents and sponsors of it simply don’t understand.”

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The Heartbreak is Real

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Heartbreak

by Jonathan Farris
Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
February 10, 2019

 

I’ve been feeling really sad for the past few days. Flashbacks to the most horrible time in my life.

On Friday night I received an email from the parents of a young man killed just three days earlier. His death was the result of yet another unnecessary police pursuit for a crime other than a violent felony.

Dear PursuitForChange,

Three days ago we had 1 son, (our only child ) that was a healthy 27 year old man. He had a beautiful girlfriend who was a healthy young 25 year old woman. Our lives changed on the morning of Feb. 6th, 2019 at 2:17 AM at the corner of Mineral Ave. and Santa Fe Highway 85 in Littleton, CO when both of them were killed by a habitual criminal.

This occurred while she (fleeing driver) was being pursued by the Douglas County Sheriffs in a high speed chase, over many miles, at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. It ended with a 100 mile per hour t-bone collision killing 2 beautiful young people starting their adult lives.

At this time my wife and I are and will be for a very long time numb inside. We wake up at night and all is well till that next second when we remember that we no longer have a son.

This should never have happened to anyone, ever. Thank you for listening and hope to hear more about Pursuit for change.

Sincerely,

Parents of Ryan Carter

In addition to Ryan’s parents losing their only son, the parents of Ryan’s girlfriend will now have this unimaginable sorrow, because their daughter was also killed.

Two young souls. Two beautiful people with so much to offer the world. Two individuals who should have had many, many more years to live their lives.

Now what? Two sets of parents who must bury their kids. Two families who will never share another birthday with them; or another Christmas; or a special wedding; or perhaps a grandchild who will never be born…

Please, please trust me when I tell you that the pain of these realizations is crushing. And although time will, hopefully, lessen Ryan and Jayne’s parents’ suffering, a deep sorrow and mind-numbing heartbreak has now become part of their “new normal”.

Ryan & Jayne. Photo from Denver7 News

Ryan & Jayne. Photo from Denver7 News

My heart aches for these parents, because, in flashbacks like it was only yesterday, I too lived this nightmare.

Every day I read of another innocent bystander needlessly dying. And every day I’m reminded that my son is gone.  And until many, many more of you become truly outraged and insist that pursuit policies and laws be strengthened, there will always be another Ryan and Jayne and Paul.

adminThe Heartbreak is Real
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