Teenager Dead Following Police Chase
One person is dead in a vehicle crash, and several others seriously injured, after police cornered a 16-year-old driving an allegedly stolen car near Tates Creek in Lexington.
Police first spotted the vehicle near the intersection of Richmond Road and Mt. Tabor Road as they attempted to detain the driver for an unspecified traffic violation. Rather than pull over, the driver accelerated down Mt. Tabor in the direction of Richmond Road. Shortly thereafter, the driver, later identified as a 16-year-old male, started driving the wrong way on New Circle Road. After striking a pickup, a third car collided into the wreckage, killing an 18-year-old from Lexington. Four other people were seriously injured in the vehicle crash. According to family members, the driver had just been in a serious crash a few days before this wreck.
Police charged the 16-year-old driver with receiving stolen property, murder, and second degree assault.
High Speed Police Chases
Over 300 people a year die in vehicle crashes during high speed police chases, and most of these victims are innocent bystanders. That’s more than the number of people killed by tornadoes, floods, lightning, and hurricanes combined. Furthermore, many suspects say that if the police stopped the pursuit, they would stop running.
On the record, officers insist that they cannot select which laws they want to enforce and which ones they consider less important and allowing criminals to get away because a chase presents some risks sends the wrong message. Off the record, they will probably say that a high speed chase offers an adrenaline rush unlike anything else, so in addition to their legal obligation to “catch the bad guy,” they have a personal reason to engage in potentially dangerous police pursuits.
To balance the need to enforce the laws against the need to keep people safe from vehicle crashes, there is a Police Pursuit Model Policy that has been enacted, at least in part, by many state and local law enforcement agencies in Kentucky. Before starting or continuing pursuit, officers should consider:
- Nature of Crime: Is the suspect wanted for a violent or dangerous crime, such as robbery or murder, or is the suspect wanted for a non-violent crime, such as theft or a traffic ticket?
- Risk to the Community: Officers must take a number of factors into account, such as the time of day, the environmental conditions (wet roads or whatever), the location, and the amount of traffic.
There is essentially a presumption in favor of either discontinuing chases shortly after they start or not undertaking them at all. In court, special rules sometimes apply when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is a police officer, transit driver, or other public employee.
Police officers do not have unlimited immunity from negligence lawsuits. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Morgantown, contact Attorney Gary S. Logsdon. We normally do not charge upfront legal fees in vehicle crash cases.