Police Pursuit Kills Non-Violent Criminals

Police Pursuit ExpertThis case involves two women who robbed a high-end clothing store on the main avenue of a small town. They went into the dressing rooms with large purses and filled the bags with over $1,000 of merchandise. As the women ran out of the store and to their car, they engaged the store’s alarms. The police engaged in a chase, pursuing the suspects down the highway and into a residential neighborhood. The women were driving in excess of 80 mph until they were T-boned by a police vehicle. The impact from the crash propelled the vehicle into a homeowner’s yard killing both of the women. The estate of the deceased sought an expert in police chase protocol to determine if a high-speed pursuit, such as this one, was appropriate given the non-violent nature of the suspects’ crime. The expert was also asked to discuss if alternative methods should have been used when the chase entered a residential area.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your work with vehicular pursuits.
  • 2. Do you have initial thoughts regarding the nature of this crime and the resulting chase?

Expert Witness Response E-086997

I have been a police officer for 22 years and I’ve served the last 13 years as a police chief. I have developed, implemented, and coordinated police officer training on emergency vehicle and pursuit training. I have reviewed numerous pursuit events in my agency for compliance with department policy and for officers actions to be aligned with policy. My initial thought is that the crime was a felony level robbery. However, there was no weapon or use of force involved. Even though the event is a felony, I would ask, ‘Is the crime worth pursuit through alleys, side streets, and residential areas when the defendants’ vehicle has been identified?’. At least with the provided information, I don’t feel the crash itself was intentional. However, crashes are tragic results of pursuits. Again, the risk versus the need to catch the suspects needs to be taken into consideration. Finally, I would have to look at the officers training in pursuit and pursuit management.


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