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Police chases

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2015-08-20


Dan and his wife are excited for their long weekend away without the kids. Dan’s wife booked the honeymoon suite at a resort on Lake Michigan.

While on the way there, Dan exits the interstate to get gas and coffee. With the rain and the glare from the lights hitting the windshield, Dan misses his turn into the gas station. Dan drives to the next intersection and starts to make a U-turn. Dan hears sirens, horns and tires screeching. Something large and airborne shoots across the windshield. Dan slams on his brakes and shuts his eyes.

A moment later, Dan drives to the side of the road. He and his wife get out of their car. Dan and his wife are okay and so is their car. Somehow the flying pick-up truck missed them and then flipped several times on the street before coming to a stop. An SUV and a small white car weren’t as fortunate. Police officers approach the pick-up truck with their weapons drawn.

Thomas Frank, in an August 6, 2015 USA Today article entitled, High-Speed Police Chases Have Killed Thousands of Innocent Bystanders, discusses the dangers associated with police car chases. From 1979 through 2013, at least 11,506 people died in police chases. Police officers comprised about 1% of those deaths. USA Today found that over half of the fatalities were of the fleeing drivers. Approximately 2,500 bystanders died from police chases. USA Today further determined that up to 270,000 people have been injured in the U.S. as a result of police chases over that same time period.

According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 92% of police chases stem from misdemeanor offenses, infractions (like speeding or running a stop sign) or non-violent felony investigations. The bottom line is that police chases are extremely dangerous – not just for police officers and the people being chased. Police chases pose a threat to all of the other motorists and pedestrians that are unlucky enough to get in the way.

A few police departments around the country are implementing policies that prohibit most police chases unless the fleeing driver is a known violent felon. Some argue that the fleeing drivers should not be allowed to get away without consequences. Others contend that the risks associated with high-speed chases are too great to justify the pursuit.

About a minute after a police officer attempted to stop a panicking sixteen-year old driver with a small amount of marijuana, the youngster’s pick-up truck struck two cars and then catapulted over Dan and his wife. The teenage driver of the fleeing pick-up truck died the following morning. The occupants of the other two cars survived.
Dan knows just how close he and his wife were to padding the stats of motorists killed or injured from police chases.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you

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