When should the police enter into a high speed chase to catch a fleeing suspect?
How should the police balance trying to apprehend a fleeing suspect with the risk of injury to bystanders in cars and who are pedestrians?
What should be the guidelines for police dangerous high speed car and motorcycle chases?
A homeless man, who was a pedestrian, allegedly lawfully walking in a crosswalk in the area of Main and Arcadia streets near an exit ramp of the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, was struck and killed by a motorcycle fleeing the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in a chase that started near Whittier, in Los Angeles County, California.
The homeless man has not been publicly identified, pending notification of relatives, according to Sarah Ardaiani, a spokesperson with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office.
This chase supposedly started over the suspect running a red traffic light, then involved speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, according to the Los Angeles Times (June 4, 2019, B3, “Victim killed in downtown motorcycle chase was homeless”).
While we understand and generally sincerely appreciate the desire of the CHP, police and other law enforcement agencies to stop and arrest those suspected of unlawful acts, one obvious question is when is it appropriate to engage in high speed chases, with the obvious risk of injury and even death as occurred here?
And when is it appropriate to engage in high speed chases, with speeds in excess of 100 mph, with the obvious risk of injury, when the alleged crime was simply running a red traffic signal, as occurred here?
What should be the balance of the alleged crime vs risks of a high speed chase, if any?
Here, the suspect, identified as Brian Jesse Leon, age 27, allegedly was riding a 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250 sport motorcycle when speeding along the 605 Freeway South to the 5 Freeway when he ended up in downtown Los Angeles.
What makes the story a little more interesting and provocative is that according to the authorities and court records, Leon previously had been arrested many times, including for theft, drug possession, trespass and parole violations. Perhaps this was a reason Leon decided to flee the pursuing officers? Perhaps the pursuing police were aware of these special circumstances and thought if Leon was fleeing perhaps he had committed another crime. But even so, would these special circumstances justify a high speed chase for the alleged crime of passing a red light? We think not!
Further, the LA Times article concludes by stating police tactical experts often warn police not to chase suspects unless there is a known immediate danger to the public. No such danger was disclosed in this situation.
In addition, many California law enforcement departments, including those in Long Beach, San Francisco and San Jose, instruct their police officers not to engage in high speed chases unless the other drivers are wanted in a violent felony or knowingly present an immediate danger to the public. Again, no such condition existed in this situation.
Had this chase for an alleged red light violation not been instituted, the victim, a pedestrian in a crosswalk, would be alive today.
Should you be the victim of any motorcycle or car injury accident, or a relative killed with a wrongful death claim, involving a pedestrian, motorcycle, car or truck, or the police, please do not hesitate to call us now at 1.866 INJURY 2 or 1.866.465.8792 or contact us for an absolutely FREE consultation. We have over 40 years experience successfully handling serious injury and wrongful death accident claims.