Family of innocent driver question why Seattle police engaged in deadly chase

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SEATTLE — A grieving grandmother is demanding an explanation from police as to why officers continued a pursuit that ended in a collision, killing her grandson.

You can see in that pursuit and everything, they were just hauling tail,” said a tearful Pennie Ledford, referring to dashcam video of the chase that police released. “You shouldn’t even be doing that when you’re in the city and somebody could be killed.”

Her grandson, 21-year-old Devin Francis, died early Thursday morning when the driver of a stolen car collided head-on with his vehicle.

Officers were chasing the stolen car down Highland Park Drive. The 16-year-old suspect, who investigators believe was involved in an armed carjacking earlier, was also killed in the accident.

The video shows officers following the car down residential streets until the suspect led officers down Highland Park Way, a steep and generally busy road.

It shows the suspect’s vehicle cross the centerline on a curve and strike Devin’s vehicle. The police video blurs-out the violent impact.

“He was always my buddy since he was a kid,” said Pennie, who uses oxygen because of health problems.

She and Devin had lived together for the past six years.

“He did everything for me, you know, that I needed…because with this there’s a lot of things I can’t do,” she said.

Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole issued a public statement saying the fatal pursuit is devastating to the families and the officers involved.

She expressed her condolences and promised a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the chase.

But Devin’s relatives say they don’t need an investigation to answer all their questions.

“If they (officers) would have held back, two people would be alive today,” Pennie said. “This guy didn’t kill nobody, he stole a car.”

Devin’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral expenses.

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