All posts tagged: innocent bystander death

Another Birthday

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November 2, 2018

By Jon Farris
Today is the 12th birthday remembrance without Paul in our world. He would have been 35 today.
You may think that as each year passes these “special days” get easier for us. You’d be wrong.
Here’s a link to thoughts from Paul’s 33rd birthday. They’re appropriate today, and for the remainder of my time on earth…

http://pursuitforchange.org/voices-of-victims/10-birthdays/

Paul Farris & Rio, three weeks before the police chase that took his life.

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NBC Boston 2018 Police Pursuit Investigative Stories

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NBC Boston 2018 Police Pursuit Investigative Stories

A note from Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change
August 17, 2018

I’m driving across Ohio on Interstate 80 and my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number, so I ignore the call. Several minutes later my phone signals that I have an email. And that’s how this most recent NBC news story came about.
Reporter Ally Donnelly and a team of NBC Boston investigative journalists asked if I could be available for a story they were working on. They also asked to be connected to Kate.
The request came as a result of yet another horrible and unnecessary police pursuit death. This time, a new father was coming home from his first visit with his newborn daughter in the hospital. He was struck by someone fleeing police.

Ally Donnelly, Danielle Waugh and Ken Tompkins were each involved with my interviews. Danielle and Ken drove to Gardiner, Maine to meet with me. Ally met with Kate at the site of Paul’s death. There are also videos about training and technology, the key to saving lives.

Below are the stories and videos.

Victims, Police Want More Training and Funding to Reduce Risk of Police Pursuits

Original story and ALL VIDEOS at: https://www.nbcboston.com/investigations/Victims-Police-Want-More-Training-and-Funding-to-Reduce-Risk-of-Police-Pursuits-490504951.html

A fatal Cape Cod crash has opened up old wounds for families of innocent bystanders who were killed in accidents involving police pursuits. They say a lack of training, funding and scrutiny of police pursuits are putting us all at risk.

(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

When Katlyn Hoyt’s eyes opened for the first time in days, she thought she was in New York.

But Hoyt was in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, recovering from a severe crash in Somerville, Massachusetts that left her in a coma.

Perhaps mercifully, she still, 11 years later, has no recollection of that early morning crash on May 27, 2007.

“It’s like I was looking at a movie,” Hoyt said. “That wasn’t my cab. That wasn’t me.”

She also didn’t remember the man in the cab with her. Paul Farris, her 23-year-old boyfriend, died in the crash, along with the cab driver, Walid Chahine.

Hoyt, and Farris’ father, Jon, later found out that a man driving without a license fleeing police had crashed into their cab.

Mashpee Police are still investigating last month’s deadly crash that killed a new father on his way home from the hospital. He was hit by a man being chased by police for driving erratically.

VIDEO 2, https://www.nbcboston.com/on-air/as-seen-on/DIT-CAR-CHASE-5—Copy_NECN-490487621.html?t=1
WATCH: Wild Police Chases From Around the Country

We are constantly seeing examples of police pursuing suspects in vehicles. Many of these pursuits are unavoidable, but there is an inherent risk to the public as vehicles weave through neighborhoods or reach speeds of more than 100 mph on highways. Here’s a look at some notable police chases from around the country.

(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

The Mashpee crash opened old wounds for families like the Farrises and the Hoyts. Victims of crashes that result from police pursuits, their families, and police themselves say that a lack of training, funding and scrutiny of pursuits is putting everyone at risk.

According to the State Police report of Farris’ crash, Trooper Joseph Kalil spotted a black Mercury SUV make an illegal U-turn on Route 16 in Everett. Kalil flipped on his lights and tried to pull over the driver, but he took off.

Kalil chased, following the SUV into the densely populated residential streets in Medford and Somerville.

The driver, Javier Morales, turned off College Avenue onto Kidder Avenue, where he crashed into the cab carrying Farris and Hoyt at the intersection with Highland Road.

“There should be no reason to have a chase here,” Hoyt said, revisiting the intersection this month with a reporter. “It just blows your mind.”

Jon Farris agrees.

“If I had been told that they were pursuing someone who shot somebody, had raped somebody, truly a violent felon, Paul would still be dead. I would still be heartbroken. But I would understand that,” Farris said. “The fact that a guy made an illegal U-turn and then ran from police, ultimately we found out that he just didn’t have a driver’s license. He was running because he was afraid he was going to go to jail, which he would have. But that made no sense to me. And so Paul’s dead and in my mind, there’s zero reason.”

VIDEO 3, https://www.nbcboston.com/on-air/as-seen-on/pursuitwebextrafinal—Copy_NECN-490509221.html?t=188
   WATCH:  Jon Farris talks about pursuits and Paul
Jon Farris lost his son Paul in 2007. Massachusetts State Police changed their pursuit policy shortly after the crash.

(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

Every deadly pursuit feels like a knife in the heart, Farris said. For the last decade he has pushed for more national oversight and accountability into what he calls an underreported public threat.

“No one has a clue how bad this is,” he said.

On average, nearly one person is killed each day in pursuits across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In Massachusetts, 225 people have been killed since 1982. Thirty percent were innocent bystanders like Farris and Chahine.

Mashpee police are continuing to investigate a crash that killed three people last month. Police pursued an erratic driver who failed to stop. He ended up crashing head on into an SUV driven by a new father on his way home from the hospital. That crash has stirred difficult memories for victims and families of other police pursuit crashes. They tel…Read more

(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

Fred Leland, a retired Walpole police lieutenant who trains police in pursuit conduct, said cops “live in the gray” of unknowns and potential danger when deciding in the heat of the moment whether to pursue a driver speeding away.

“What if I say, ‘You know what it’s not that serious I’m gonna let him go,’ and then he goes down the street and hits somebody anyway?” he said.

Despite the media spotlight on dramatic pursuits, like one a month ago in Las Vegas where an officer returned fire through his own windshield at a fleeing vehicle he knew held dangerous felons, most attempted stops are more mundane.

According to the Department of Justice, two-thirds of pursuits begin, like the crashes in Somerville and Mashpee, with a traffic violation: speeding, erratic driving or a suspended license.

And for police, the chase itself is often a trial by fire. Leland said local departments do not get enough training, and real-world pursuits are not common for a given officer.

“We don’t have much experience in pursuits,” Leland said. “I know we’re the police and you see them on television and you think, ‘Oh you do them all the time.’ But no, we don’t.”

Officers get 48 hours of driving training when they first join the police academy. Pursuits are part of it, but what happens after that depends on their department.

“Some places do more, some places do less,” said Steve Wojnar, chief of the Dudley Police Department and president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

He said all departments have written pursuit policies, but like the situations officers face, none are the same. And he agreed that training officers in pursuits should be mandatory.

“You never know exactly what it’s going to be like. You’re going to constantly reassess and re-evaluate the situation,” he said. “How are you going to function under a stressful situation? Are you going to be able to react? Are you going to be able to react properly?

But, as always, the obstacle for cash-strapped departments is paying for it.

“Training is the last thing to be funded and the first thing to be cut when there’s problems and that’s bad,” Leland said.

Bad, too, for a father who lost a son over an illegal U-turn.

“I don’t want other people to have to go through it. I shouldn’t have to be crying every other day when I’m mowing the lawn. It’s horrible,” Farris said.

Farris has been pushing federal legislation that would require departments to track pursuits and would fund more training. He also favors policies that would restrict when officers can pursue to when the officer knows he is chasing a violent felon.

Wojnar hopes training money could also come from the local police training bill Gov. Charlie Baker signed last week.

#PursuitReductionTechnology

Training and Technology Can Reduce Police Pursuits, But Funding Is Lacking

Some police departments in Massachusetts are re-evaluating their policies or looking for ways to avoid high-speed chases altogether to minimize fatal crashes and severe injuries.

But while many police chiefs agree that training and new devices can help reduce casualties in police pursuits, expensive technological tools and underfunded training budgets inhibit cash-strapped local departments from making changes.

The Methuen Police Department has adopted a cruiser-launched GPS tracking device that allows officers to avoid chases without losing a suspect.

“Anything we can do to avoid a pursuit and make a safer conclusion, we try to do that,” said Methuen Police Sgt. James Moore.

The device, called StarChase, is about the size of a can of soda. It is filled with foam and the tracking device. One end has a sticky pad.

An officer can launch the tracker either from inside the cruiser, or near the cruiser using a key fob, and the data is relayed back to dispatch.

“But we’re not going to chase it at 100 miles per hour, or we’re not going to have people giving themselves a potential for danger just for a person that was stopped for a red light,” Moore said.

Specific training is not required for pursuits like it is for firearms or Tasers. Each department sets its own policy on pursuits where officers and usually supervisors weigh the reason for the initial stop against the risk to the public if they chase. Most pursuits start over a minor traffic violation.

We are constantly seeing examples of police pursuing suspects in vehicles. Many of these pursuits are unavoidable, but there is an inherent risk to the public as vehicles weave through neighborhoods or reach speeds of more than 100 mph on highways. Here’s a look at some notable police chases from around the country.(Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

Officer Derek Licata, the Methuen department’s training coordinator, said training is critical because officers in that instant, or any high-stress situation, goes “instantly into fight or flight mode.”

“It can actually sometimes cause you to lose focus of what you’re doing, kind of end up getting tunnel vision and not really focusing on the big picture,” he said.

According to federal data, about one person is killed each day in police pursuits across the country. Between 1982 and 2016, 225 people have been killed during police pursuits in Massachusetts, about a third innocent bystanders.

Three people in Barnstable were killed late last month, including a new father coming home from the hospital.

That chase started after a driver refused to pull over in Mashpee, and the officer gave chase along Route 28. The driver crashed head-on into an SUV carrying the new father, a Marine. The Marine, the driver, and the driver’s girlfriend all died in the crash.

Listen to the recording of the Mashpee, Massachusetts dispatch and the police officer pursuing the suspect before the fatal crash on July 28.(Published Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018)

“Nobody wants that to happen. Nobody went out with the intent of that happening,” said Fred Leland, a retired police lieutenant from Walpole who now consults with departments on training.

Leland said local departments need more training in how and when to chase. But in the heat of the moment, when an officer hears of a speeding, erratic driver blowing through stop signs, he knows the officer thinks: “Danger. I think this guy’s putting people in danger.”

Methuen has not had to deploy its tracking device, officers there said. And they intend for the system to obviate the need for high-speed pursuits in the city from now on.

“The days of people just chasing cars, for us, they’re over,” Moore said. “We don’t look forward to that and we’re certainly not trained or encouraged to do it.”

Multiple Massachusetts police chiefs told NBC10 Boston they need more funding to buy technology like StarChase and to train officers.

But they are also calling on lawmakers to dramatically increase the penalty for failing to stop for police. They think making it a felony would greatly reduce the number of people who flee.

Currently, failing to stop for police is a $100 fine.

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This Is Not Just Another Day

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By Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate for Pursuit For Change.

This Is Not Just Another Day

Every year since my son Paul was killed, on the anniversary of his death, I’ve posted a note. Perhaps on Facebook, at PaulFarris.org, at PursuitForChange.org or some other place for others to read. I suspect I’ll continue this forever.

These stories typically focus on my personal feelings and on the never-ending issue of dangerous non-violent felony police chases.

I can tell you that the anniversary of the death of a child is seared into your brain. It hurts so very much. It tears at your heart and at your soul. It never lets go. But we go on…

Paul was an innocent victim, killed during a police chase after a man running from misdemeanor traffic violation. Because of that I’ve expended years of heartache and energy telling his story to anyone who will listen. Today both Pursuit For Change and Pursuit Response continue efforts by working with law enforcement agencies and legislators. Our goals?

> SAVE LIVES. Innocent bystanders and law enforcement officers

> Reduce the number of misdemeanor and property-crime pursuits

> Develop robust and mandatory Federal tracking for all police pursuit deaths and injuries

> Help law enforcement develop more measured and significantly stricter pursuit policies for their officers

> Share new technologies that will allow for fewer pursuits while still allowing police to catch the bad guys

These goals are simple; making them happen is incredibly difficult. But this effort, too, is part of living our lives in a more meaningful way.

May 27th will never be just another day.

 

 

 

 

 

Scott & Paul Farris – early memories

 

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Highway Patrol mum on deadly US 23/74 wreck report

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By Kimberly King

http://wlos.com/news/local/highway-patrol-mum-on-deadly-us-2374-wreck-report

Highway Patrol mum on deadly US 23/74 wreck report

The latest report on a deadly Haywood County wreck involving a North Carolina State Trooper is drawing strong reactions from many News 13 viewers. The report said Trooper Hunter Hooper was traveling 115 mph just moments before he crashed into an RV that was making a legal U-turn on US 23/74. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff/NCHP)

 

Highway Patrol says Hooper as doing a “traffic enforcement action” at the time of the July 25 wreck.

One big unanswered question remains about the collision that killed a Florida couple — Who was the trooper trying to stop?

News 13 has asked repeatedly since the crash and has not received an answer.

The Highway Patrol collision report shows a diagram of the wreck and says that the RV, designated as “vehicle 1,” failed to yield the right of way and traveled into the path of “vehicle 2,” which was Trooper Hooper.

The driver of the RV and his wife, Robert and Esther Nelson, died in the wreck.

Highway Patrol has not responded to News 13’s question if the agency has speed policies in place for traffic pursuits.

Jonathan Farris is the founder of Pursuit for Change, which aims to raise awareness about the dangers of high-speed traffic pursuits. Farris said he lost his son Paul in 2007 during a high-speed pursuit that involved a Boston area trooper.

“This is so very similar to stories that happen across the U.S.,” Farris told News 13.

With knowledge of the Haywood County crash, Farris gave this statistic:

“It’s mind-boggling that this continues to happen over and over again because the vast majority, as much as 90 percent, of these pursuits occur as a result of a misdemeanor traffic violation,” he said.

Farris said many high-speed police crashes end in costly litigation for police agencies involved.

Highway Patrol has told News 13 the SBI and the reconstruction team are still investigating this case.

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Preserving Our Memories

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May the memories of our children remain forever…

Jack Phoenix, a.k.a. SAKE, was the victim of a hit and run in 2015. He was crossing Venice Blvd at 8:30 pm on a Sunday night. Police were chasing a stolen car at high speed. There were no lights, no sirens. “TO SERVE AND PROTECT”. He was only fifteen. He would have been sixteen a month later on Christmas Eve.

Visit the SakeForever site to read about Jack and his family’s story
https://sakeforever.com/pages/about-us

Father Nick Phoenix, speaks about the death of his teenage son, Jack, who was struck and killed by a stolen car that was fleeing the police in 2015.
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/91242034-132.html

This is a horrible and unnecessary story, repeated with frightening regularity across the US.  In this case, Jack’s family has engaged to keep Jack’s dream alive.

Those of us who have lost a loved one in a #PoliceChase are connected in a way that we never imagined possible. It’s important that we remain resolute and strong.

I hope that Sake’s family and friends are able to find inner peace while remembering all that was wonderful about him. 

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Grand Jury: Los Angeles Police Pursuits Cause ‘Unnecessary’ Injuries, Deaths

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July 11, 2017
Original Story: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2017/07/11/grand-jury-police-pursuit/

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A grand jury has found police chases in Los Angeles are causing “unnecessary bystander injuries and deaths” and recommended police and sheriff’s officers undergo additional training to reduce the likelihood of crashes during pursuits, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County civil grand jury report found three people were killed and 45 people were injured during 421 pursuits in the county from October 2015 until 2016 and concluded that most of the pursuits were not provoked by serious crimes.

The report, citing information from the California Highway Patrol, found that 17 percent of pursuits ended in crashes with the possibility of injuries or death. Sixty-seven percent of the pursuits ended with arrests, the grand jury found.

The grand jury also found that neither Los Angeles police nor sheriff’s officials have policies in place for recurring or continued vehicle pursuit training.

“Police pursuits are inherently dangerous and that is why the Los Angeles Police Department takes every step to develop tactics and mitigate the risk posed by these dangerous interactions,” Los Angeles police spokesman Josh Rubenstein said in a statement. “We are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure they support what we value the most: the preservation of life.”

The report also criticized the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department’s training facility, saying it was “substandard.” A sheriff’s official said the department is in the process of acquiring a new training center for emergency drivers.

Deputies receive annual training on the department’s pursuit policy and also undergo emergency vehicle training every two years, sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gage said. The sheriff’s department – the largest in the U.S. – has one of the most restrictive pursuit policies in the nation, Gage said.

The policy only allows deputies to pursue drivers for serious felony offenses, confirmed stolen cars or potentially reckless drunken drivers, Gage said. The department’s policy expressly prohibits deputies from chasing someone fleeing after being stopped from an infraction, he said.

“We’re always looking to do better and have more training in this field,” Gage said. “There’s nobody that’s going to say the training is enough for our folks.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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Ten Years

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Ten Years

By Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

 

OK, here goes. I need to talk.

On May 27, 2007 our oldest son Paul was killed in a vehicle crash. Some days it seems like yesterday. Other days it doesn’t even seem real.

Walid Chahine, the driver of the taxi in which Paul was riding, succumbed to injuries and died one week later. Paul’s girlfriend, Katelyn, miraculously survived. But she spent months in the hospital and years in rehabilitation before she returned to normalcy.

Why did Paul die? Why did Walid die? Why did Kate nearly die? 

Because an unlicensed driver made an illegal U-turn and then made a conscious decision to run from police. And because a State Trooper made a conscious decision that this particular misdemeanor violation was an important enough infraction to warrant the ultimately deadly, high-speed police chase through the narrow streets of several Boston suburbs.

And so, because of one very stupid individual’s decision to run, two people are dead and too many of us now live with that horror forever.

Ten years.

My family’s life will never be the same. Walid’s family’s life will never be the same. Kate and her family’s life will never be the same.

I’ve spoken about this ad nauseam, but the loss of a child is inexplicable and it rips an immense hole in your heart. Many parents and siblings never recover from such a loss.

Perhaps we are the lucky ones, because we survived? Perhaps.

Ten years. 

Since Paul’s death I’ve researched, reported on and suggested changes for various aspects of problematic police pursuits. I joined the advocacy PursuitSAFETY and later started Pursuit For Change.

Some chases, such as those to apprehend dangerous violent felons, are often necessary. However, the vast majority of chases begin as a result of traffic violations or property crimes such as shoplifting or theft.  Those pursuits are almost always unnecessary. Yet every day there are more. Many, many more.

Federal reporting of ​police pursuit deaths is still not mandatory and there is virtually no reporting of police pursuit injuries. So we must interpolate using information from those agencies and states that do keep reasonably accurate statistics.

Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina who has studied police pursuits since the 1980s, says the actual number of fatalities is “three or four times higher than reported.”  Others think that even this estimate is low. And another complicating factor; bystanders killed after police stop chasing suspects — even seconds afterward — are never counted.

From incomplete National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported data, approximately 360 people are killed every year in police chases. Using these reported numbers, in the ten years since Paul’s death another 3,500+ people were killed. If you interpolate, that number is likely closer to 14,000.

About one third of those killed are innocent bystanders, like Paul and Walid. And more than a fair number are law enforcement officers, killed during or while responding to a police pursuit.

​In that same ten-year period, using woefully inadequately reporting, we estimate that at least five times as many people were injured. That’s more than 17,500 (70,000 if interpolated) individuals hurt, with many of those injuries being life-altering.

The statistics are staggering. The human toll is unnecessary.  AND NEARLY NOTHING HAS CHANGED SINCE PAUL FARRIS WAS KILLED.

Ten years.

Perpetrators flee from police for every imaginational reason. Often it’s due to an outstanding warrant, no driver’s license, alcohol or drugs in the vehicle, or simply out of some irrational fear. Regardless, more than ninety percent of pursuits are for non-violent crimes. All too often law enforcement’s decision to pursue is made instinctually, rather than with clarity and forethought of potential outcomes.

Here’s an excerpt from one law enforcement agency’s emergency vehicle operations manual:

“All personnel operating department vehicles shall exercise due regard for the safety of all persons. There are no assignments or tasks of such importance that they justify the reckless disregard of the member’s safety or the safety of other persons. Members must be mindful of the balance between achieving the goals of law enforcement while maintaining the public’s safety.”  

Public safety. Common sense. Split-second decision-making. Most LEO’s exhibit great strength in these critical skills. However, all too often, these skills are overridden by an officer’s gut instinct to chase anyone who flees, no matter the reason. ​That is what must change.

A police pursuit policy is only as good as it’s implementation. Allowing officers to pursue for any reason puts the fleeing driver, innocent citizens and LEOs at risk.  POLICE PURSUITS ALWAYS ENDANGER PUBLIC SAFETY – ALWAYS

​Most law enforcement agencies need support, additional training and additional funding for alternatives to pursuits, such as pursuit reduction technology.  Pursuit For Change works with technology partners and legislators to enact positive changes and provide sources of funding for LEOs.  Legislators in Washington DC have responded to our requests and have adopted our proposed 2017 Appropriations language. And we will work diligently for additional changes and LEO funding in the 2018 Appropriations Bills.

We need your help. Most substantive Federal, State and local changes occur because citizens like you and me communicate with and teach the decision-makers. Without your voices and stories, change is nearly impossible. And without your voices, many more innocent bystanders will certainly die as the result of non-violent felony police chases.

Ten years.

​My heart aches for Paul every single day. I still have crying meltdowns virtually every week. I am so very sad for all that was taken from Paul. I am so very sad for all that was taken from my family and me.

Ten years.

Please also visit PaulFarris.org to learn more about Paul

Postscript – Pursuit-related budgetary and reporting issues:

  • Consideration of state-level funding for pursuit related technology and LEO training
  • Consideration of state-level funding for police departments that adopt violent felony-only pursuit policies
  • Addition / creation of mandatory state-level tracking for all police pursuits (no injury or death; with injuries; with deaths)
  • Pursuit For Change is working with legislators in Washington to ensure mandatory Federal tracking is enacted
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Police chases not worth risk of tragedy

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Here’s an article published the day of Paul Farris’ death. So tell me, exactly what’s changed in 2016?

Police chases not worth risk of tragedy
May 31, 2007

by Margery Eagan
Boston Globe Columnist

“Here’s yet another question: would you prefer someone driving through Boston erratically at 40 mph, or chased by police, at 70 or 80 mph?”

Explain this, please: Because about 100 children a year are abducted and killed by strangers, we have totally revamped American childhood. Good parents won’t even let children in the back yard alone.
Yet at least that many innocent Americans, including children (some estimate two or three times as many) are killed every year in police chases. And every time I’ve written a column asking if these chases are worth it, the response is the same.
Surely I am insane.
Really?

Two innocent bystanders killed; one permanently injured
The latest police chase tragedy came early Sunday morning when Javier Morales, 29, refused to stop for a state trooper in Everett. Morales made an illegal left turn off Route 16. He had no license and feared jail time for a previous no-license arrest.

Perhaps if he faced greater jail time for refusing to stop for police a penalty many have proposed to reduce these chases Morales, weighing his options, would have made a different choice. To stop.
As it was, Trooper Joseph Kalil chased Morales stolen SUV from Everett to Somerville’s Davis Square, where Morales plowed into a cab driven by Walid Chahine, 45, a husband and father. In the backseat were musician Paul Farris, 23, and his girlfriend Katelyn Hoyt. Hoyt and Chahine [Walid Chahine died at the hospital.] are at Mass. General, critically injured. Farris is dead.
The fourth victim: Trooper Kalil, who must live with what happened for the rest of his days.
So why is it that state police here, and in many other states, chase traffic violators at all? Boston police don’t. Neither do police in many other big cities, in part because of the risk of multi million-dollar lawsuits. Boston’s pursuit standards are higher than those followed by state police: Boston is supposed to chase only violent or dangerous suspects or those driving erratically, possibly because of drugs or alcohol.
Here’s yet another question: would you prefer someone driving through Boston erratically at 40 mph, or chased by police, at 70 or 80 mph?
One more question: Why do we assume that chasing even dangerous criminals is always worth the risk of maiming or killing a pedestrian or family in a minivan?

Myth vs. Fact
The myth, by the way, is that police typically or even regularly chase the dangerous, that there’s a dead body in the trunk, says Geoffrey Alpert of the University of South Carolina, who has studied police pursuits since 1983.
The fact is, between 75 and 80 percent of chases occur after moving violations, says Alpert. They’re mostly young kids who’ve made stupid decisions. The more powerful tool for police? Turn off the lights and siren and it’s more likely the suspect will slow down.
I guess the idea of letting the bad guy get away seems un-American. Perhaps, too, the car chase is too rooted in American legend, from The French Connection to O.J. to whatever live police pursuit Fox and MSNBC can find and broadcast.
And perhaps politicians don’t want to buck police. And then there’s adrenaline: If you’ve heard a chase on a police radio, you know want I’m talking about.
Yesterday Pearl Allen, a retired music and Afro-American studies teacher at John D. O’Bryant School, said what many say who lose family to police pursuits. That if police hadn’t chased, her grandson would still be alive.
Quentin Osbourne, once a standout for the Boston Raiders Pop Warner team, was 15 when he was ejected from a Hyundai Elantra he and six friends had piled into.
The 16-year-old unlicensed driver ran a stop sign. Police chased. He drove into a brick wall.
They were just kids, his grandmother said. (The police) put on the flashing blue light. I think the driver got scared and sped away, and they just kept chasing until they crashed.

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We Need Much Stricter Sentencing Guidelines for Police Chases

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Picture this. A man runs from the police, with four kids in his car, failing to stop when ordered. He strikes an innocent motorist and then careens into a bike rider, killing him.

Our justice system seems to think that this behavior and outcome deserves SEVEN years in prison. Really?

Mr. Graham’s family and friends were sentenced to LIFE WITHOUT WILLIE.

The system is broken and truly needs fixing.


Story link

Seven years for death of bicyclist during police pursuit with four infants in the car

gavel2ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for fatally striking a bicyclist with his car while fleeing from a traffic stop.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 23-year-old Glenn Parchmon was sentenced Friday.

Parchmon had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, resisting arrest and other charges.

Police say that last March, Parchmon fled a traffic stop, ran a stop sign, crashed into a car and swerved on a sidewalk where he struck bicyclist Willie Graham. Graham went into a coma and died several days later.

Police say four children, ages 1 to 4, were in Parchmon’s vehicle at the time.

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Investigators continue to piece deadly chase and crash together

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Investigators continue to piece deadly chase and crash together

Updated: 6:02 PM EST Nov 28, 2016
NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa. —Four days after a police chase ended with three people killed in North Versailles, investigators continue to piece together what led up to the deadly crash.

Surveillance video from a business along Route 30 obtained by Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 shows the suspect’s white car speeding down the road toward Route 48 just minutes before the crash. A North Versailles police cruiser can be seen trailing the car by only a matter of seconds.

Detectives from the Allegheny County Police Department have been working to obtain that video while investigating the incident.

Many have also questioned whether officers should have been pursuing the car. The suspect, Demetrius Coleman, was wanted for felony probation violation related to a drug charge, but not for a violent crime.

North Versailles police have not revealed their policy for initiating or continuing a chase. An officer reached at the department Monday said the chief would not be in until Wednesday.

East McKeesport police chief Russell Stroschein released his agency’s policy early Monday. It limits pursuits to “those situations which involve the attempted apprehension of persons wanted for the commission of felonious acts that threaten, have threatened, or will threaten the health, life, or safety, of a person.”

Jonathan Farris, founder of Pursuit for Change, a group that advocates for changes to police chase policies, said from the information he has seen, he doesn’t believe the North Versailles pursuit was justified.

“There was nothing going on at that point in time that made that person dangerous enough to instigate a pursuit which put other people in danger, and in fact ultimately killed three innocent citizens,” Farris said.

His group recommends that chases be reserved for violent offenders, and that police departments employ better technology to stop fleeing suspects without having to pursue them. Also, he believes police departments should better coordinate their policies to line up with each other.

“They need to have more consistency,” Farris said. “This is really important within a geographic area, because what often happens is there isn’t consistency.”

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 called every North Versailles township commissioner Monday. No one would speak on camera about the crash or their police department’s policy, but some did say the issue would be a major topic at their next meeting.

The Allegheny County district attorney is also gathering information about the case, and could make a statement on it later this week.

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A Horrible Call

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A Horrible Call

by Jonathan Farris, Chief Advocate, Pursuit For Change

It’s a 2016 holiday weekend – Thanksgiving to be exact. And your kids and grandchild will be at your house very soon.

But now it’s an hour after they were supposed to arrive. You’ve called their cell phones, but the calls go straight to voicemail. I wonder where they could be?

For the families of David Lee Bianco and his fiancee Kaylie Meininger and their young daughter, they will scream and cry when they receive ‘the call’ from authorities, telling them their son, their daughter, and their granddaughter are all dead.

The pain is unimaginable. The heartache is unbearable. And the question “WHY?” will be asked over and over and over again.

I wish I could ease their pain, but I cannot. And for these families and their friends, Thanksgiving will forever be a time of sorrow and not celebration.

Over and over and over again this story plays out. Innocent people, simply going about their lives, are killed by someone who decides to flee from law enforcement.

And over and over and over again law enforcement chases. In the case of violent felonies, perhaps there are no other means to catch the perpetrator.

But in the case of non-violent felons, known criminals, or those committing misdemeanor violations such as speeding or an illegal u-turn, there are thousands of pursuits. Some statistics indicate more than 80 percent of police chases are for non-violent actions by the person running.

Are there other means for catching bad guys while not putting citizens at risk? The answer is a resounding YES!

We need more law enforcement agencies to tighten up their pursuit policies – generally limiting chases to all but violent felonies. We need for law enforcement to have significantly more driver training, because unlike weapons training, behind-the-wheel or in-simulator driving simply isn’t practiced enough. And we need law enforcement to begin to use more pursuit reduction technology, allowing them to apprehend criminals without engaging in pursuits that endanger innocent bystanders and the officers themselves. We simply must reduce the thousands and thousands of chases occurring annually.

You may not agree with me, and I get that. But if YOU were the family who received THAT CALL, I suspect your opinion would change.

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2016/11/25/Driver-in-fatal-crash-was-going-more-than-100-mph-officials-say/stories/201611250191?

image from Pittsburg Post-Gazette

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Examine police pursuit policies!

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The author of this insightful Op Ed is my dear friend and supporter, Ellen Deitz Tucker. 

Every similar fatality should make us examine police pursuit policies

Posted Jul 27, 2016
http://www.gastongazette.com/opinion/20160727/every-similar-fatality-should-make-us-examine-police-pursuit-policies

Last Saturday I joined the crowd celebrating Belmont’s dedication of a beautiful riverfront park to the memory of Kevin Loftin, a former mayor who dedicated countless hours to bettering his hometown. As Richard Boyce (another former mayor) said, the city honored Kevin’s unifying vision of a park that would give free riverfront access to all.

But at the very same time, the public safety problem that killed Kevin and my sister Donna was replaying itself nearby. A driver pursued for shoplifting was colliding with an innocent driver on Franklin Boulevard in Gastonia. Those bystanders would need hospital treatment. The fleeing driver’s passenger would die in the crash. I would later read that the fleeing thief would be charged with “misdemeanor homicide.”

The man who struck Kevin’s car got a double charge of second degree murder. When I asked DA Locke Bell why, he said, “First of all, this is personal. I knew Kevin well and served with him on charitable boards.”

Since Donna and Kevin’s deaths, every pursuit-related fatality feels personal to me. Study of the issue has taught me that passengers in fleeing vehicles are seldom counted among the innocents who die in pursuits. Passengers are treated as accomplices, even when they are helpless captives in a car driven by a remorseless madman.

The Kevin I knew would say that the life of the woman who died was worth as much as his own. He’d also say that no human life should be put at risk to catch a fleeing shoplifter. Surveillance video and the license plate number would have enabled police to catch this thief later, after he stopped driving.

Ellen Deitz Tucker

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Message to Toyota: Police Pursuits Are No Joke

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Opinion Article

Suppose you’re a homeowner who has watched your neighborhood deteriorate since drug dealers moved in. The drug traffic has disturbed your peace, destroyed the lives of friends, and threatened your security.

Then suppose you turn on the TV and see a commercial for a product considered socially responsible: a low water-use toilet. The manufacturer, worried that customers think its flushing power ineffectual, has devised a new “humorous” ad. It depicts a panicked drug dealer reacting to police pounding on his door by running to the bathroom with a bag of cocaine. The camera cuts to police ramming the entry, then back to the dealer, calmly munching corn chips. The ad’s caption: “No Matter the Rush, It’s Gone in One Flush!”

No advertising company would propose such an ad, and no manufacturer would buy it. It would outrage the law-abiding public and law enforcement at all levels.

Yet for months Toyota has run a series of ads that strike both police and the family members of one group of crime victims as just this outrageous. The first spot aired during the Super Bowl.

A group of bank robbers, finding their getaway car has been towed, steal a Prius. They elude police, driving for miles at high speeds. Meanwhile, citizens tweet the thieves’ exploits and hang out banners to cheer them on as they speed by. The chase goes on endlessly, without even near-miss collisions, as if pursuits always unrolled in the sedate manner of the slow-motion chase of O. J. Simpson on highways that had been cleared of most other traffic.

In real life, police pursuits can quickly turn deadly. An FBI study found that about half of all pursuits last less than two minutes, and 70% end within six minutes — usually in a crash. Sometimes the fleeing driver slams into a wall, injuring or killing only himself. But too often he slams into another, innocent driver.

Records kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 1979 show that about one person a day dies in a pursuit-related crash and that over one-third of those killed are innocent bystanders. The real number of pursuit-related deaths is probably higher.

USA Today investigators who tabulated media-reported pursuits found that the NHTSA undercounted chase-related deaths in 2013 by at least 31%. One reason: accident report forms often don’t ask whether a pursuit preceded a crash.

Researchers for the International Association of Chiefs of Police reported in 2008 that over 91% of vehicular pursuits are triggered by non-violent crimes, and that in over 42% of cases, police pursue for minor traffic violations.

Patrol officers see small infractions as clues to larger crimes — and a suspect’s refusal to stop seems an admission of guilt. It is true that police frequently discover, after the crash, that a suspect was driving a stolen vehicle. But by then the stolen property is irrecoverable.

You can replace a ruined car, but you cannot replace the life of an innocent bystander victim. That’s why the national nonprofit PursuitSAFETY urges law enforcement to pursue only violent felony suspects. It also urges law enforcement to train officers to use safe practices in situations that often trigger pursuits. Another organization, Pursuit For Change, pushes these reforms while promoting new technologies that could help officers apprehend suspects without the dangerous chase.

Both groups have asked Toyota to pull the offensive Prius ads. Toyota has responded with tone-deaf excuses.

Toyota Operations Supervisor Nicole Redd’s response to a letter from PursuitSAFETY volunteer Patti DeAngelis (whose daughter died last September due to a pursuit in San Joaquin County, California) is typical. “We are sorry you did not enjoy our . . . commercial. Our intention was to focus on the typical misconceptions about hybrids . . . in a fun and humorous way.” In other words, “That was a joke! Didn’t you get it?”

The American public doesn’t get it. We regard vehicular flight and pursuit with too much fascination and too little alarm. We thrill to movie depictions of impossible chases. The camera sweeps past fiery crashes and crumpled vehicles, never showing us the human cost. Reckless scofflaws conclude that you can flee police and get away, while the rest of us don’t suspect we could be victims — until it happens to someone we love.

Free-lance writer and editor Ellen Deitz Tucker began advocating reforms to police pursuit policy after her sister and a friend were killed by a fleeing driver in Belmont, NC in 2012.

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76-year-old grandmother killed in crash triggered by pursuit on Christmas

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76-year-old woman has been identified as the victim in a fatal crash triggered by a pursuit in Moreno Valley on Christmas Day, officials said Monday.

Around 4:33 p.m. Friday the California Highway Patrol became involved in a pursuit of a 2013 Nissan Frontier on the westbound State Route 60 near Perris Boulevard after the driver allegedly struck a Beaumont Police Department’s patrol vehicle, the CHP said.

The driver, identified as Simon Peter Gerard Linares, 53, of Upland, was originally wanted for a traffic violation, according to Beaumont police.

Officers said the pursuit ended when Linares struck a 2008 Toyota Corolla at the intersection of Frederick Street and Alessandro Boulevard in Moreno Valley.

The driver and the passenger in the Toyota suffered major injuries and were transported Riverside County Regional Medical Center. The passenger, identified as Sybil Richardson, died at the hospital.

Loved ones of Richardson said they are saddened and shocked that she was killed in such a violent way.

“It’s very tragic that she would die that way,” said Jimmie Lee Richardson, the victim’s ex-husband.

The two were married for nearly 30 years, and Jimmie Lee Richardson said Sybil Richardson was a retired social worker, dedicated to helping people.

“It really hurts me to know that she’s died like that,” he said. “I never dreamed that she would die in a car.”

Linares was taken into custody and transported to a hospital for treatment. He has been arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter, while intoxicated, CHP said.

The collision is still under investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Riverside CHP Area 951-637-8000.

Source

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Crash of stolen car kills 1, injures 12 after Chicago chase

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CHICAGO (WLS) — One person was killed and 12 others were injured in a violent crash on the city’s South Side Saturday that police say involved a stolen car after a short chase.

Police say an unmarked squad car first identified a stolen vehicle and attempted to get the driver to pull over at 66th Street and May. Police said the vehicle failed to stop and the officers initially gave chase, but abandoned it after a short distance.

The stolen vehicle ran a stop sign at 71st and Carpenter and struck another vehicle with eight people inside, killing 37-year-old Marie Carrion-Adame and injuring several, police said.

Three men inside the stolen vehicle were also hurt and were taken into custody and hospitalized. They have been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.

Officials said 50 police officers and 11 ambulances wound up responding to the call.

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