This is one of these cases where you have to ask if the police chase justified the result. In Clearwater, Florida a man was trying to run from police. According to the Miami Herald, the 47-year-old man was wanted for failing to appear on a charge of driving without a license. He was at a Clearwater bar and left before he could be arrested. He drove away and may have run a red light when he slammed into a taxi, killing the driver, a 32-year old man. Officers say they initially chased the man and then called off the chase. That is often what they say when they want to distance themselves from a bad outcome, but there is no way of knowing without launching an investigation. The man was also injured in the crash, but has been charged with vehicular homicide among other charges. He is currently in jail.
Our sincere condolences go out to the family of the deceased man who appears to have been an innocent victim in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Federal agencies do not track the fatalities that result from police pursuits or first responder pursuits. But the closest numbers we get are voluntary reported numbers into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The citizen group, Pursuit Safety, says that the NHTSA numbers are likely under-reported, since they are voluntary, but 4 to 5 people die every week in the U.S. as a result of a police or first responder pursuit.
Pursuit Safety is made up of the relatives of loved ones who have been hit by police cars. Candy Priano lost her daughter who was on her way to a school event in the back seat of the car Candy was driving. She and others believe that there is no justification to drive extremely fast through residential areas unless a violent crime has been committed. The biggest hurdle they face is criticism from the public who believes law enforcement should be left alone to do their job.
With a half dozen people being killed every week, does pursuing someone to apprehend them for a failure to show up for a hearing on a suspended license really rise to the occasion of a police chase? The family of the deceased man in the aforementioned case would be well-advised to seek advice from an experienced Florida car accident attorney and investigator. Together they can put together the pieces of this auto accident and try to determine the circumstances. Pursing these cases is the only way they will stop, or at least encourage law enforcement to initiate some reasonable policy that allows them to apprehend a suspect without actually speeding and putting innocent lives at risk. It’s been done in other places with success. After all, the fleeing driver does not care about your family’s safety or your safety, so the burden to protect the innocent citizen falls on law enforcement. Law enforcement has to follow a pursuit policy that puts public safety first as its policy.