More power to the police in high speed pursuit

Let's see if I have this right...
Police take off after a black Caddy doing 73mph in a 55mph zone, which leads
to a high speed pursuit in the black Georgia night. The 19 year old yahoo
behind the wheel of the Caddy is obviously of no mind to pull over. After
almost 8 minutes of the chase through light traffic, one police cruiser
bumps the Caddy from behind, at which point yahoo loses control of the car
and careens off the road into (what appears to be) a telephone pole.
Bottom line, the yahoo (who, originally, was guilty of driving at 18mph over
the posted speed limit) is now a quadraplegic.
Yahoo sues the police officer who "caused the crash" under the terms of the
4th Amendment (some weird logic about unlawful seizure?).
"In this case, both a lower court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th
Circuit ruled in favor of [the yahoo]. The 11th Circuit said that [the
officer's] actions constituted deadly force and that it was unreasonable
because the officer had no reason to think [yahoo] had done anything more
than violate traffic laws. The police gave chase because they clocked him
going 73 mph in a 55-mph zone.
'Far from being the cautious and controlled driver the lower court depicts,
what we see on the video more closely resembles a Hollywood-style car chase
of the most frightening sort, placing police officers and innocent
bystanders alike at great risk of serious injury,' wrote Justice Antonin
Scalia was incredulous that the lower courts had said Harris's case against
Scott could proceed."
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, among others)
Now, I've viewed the video posted on the Supreme Court's website, and I have
to say, "What the $*^&$# was that yahoo thinking?!?" The video is about 92MB
and runs some 15+ minutes, showing what the onboard cameras of the police
cruisers saw that night. First, you see the Caddy from the lead pursuit
cruiser, then you get the same chase as seen from a second cruiser, the one
which ultimately knocks the Caddy into the woods.
(video at:
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Watching the California Patrol in hot pursuit after a white Bronco doing
20mph for hours on end is one thing, but the chase in this video is typical
of the ones being debated over recent years. At what point do the police
engage in pursuit, and when do they just let the evil-doer go, hoping to
pick him up later.
The original crime here was not armed robbery or carjacking or leaving the
scene of an accident, it was doing 73mph in a 55 zone. (Remember: I've said
before that 72 is the magic number.) I have no idea why yahoo decided to try
to escape, rather than simply pull over and accept the damn ticket.
When the police officer is chasing down a speeder with siren and lights on,
and the speeder just keeps on going, putting any number of other motorists
in danger, the police officer can now use deadly force (i.e.: his front
bumper) with a little more authority, thanks to today's Supreme Court
I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that yahoo compounded his possible
speeding ticket with resisting arrest (always a good generic criminal
activity, when everything else fails). But then leading the police on an
8-minute chase around any number of other motorists (most of whom had the
good sense to pull over to the side of the road) has to be a serious crime.
The potential for disaster is all over that video.
I would have dismissed this case from the start.
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Reply to
Better the crook go free than risk being sued seems to be the desire of the liberal courts. Ya gotta wonder why any of us ever thought about pinning on the badge and going forth to fight crime and/or evil. The citizens, who have never walked in our shoes second guess what should or should not have been done in that split second.
Bad cops should be punished for stepping outside the bounds of moral decency... whether it's graft or abusing the power of the badge. But a lot of damn good cops have been lost to second guessing. Sadly, it only takes a small percent to make all look bad.
They say a camera doesn't lie, but what it records is dependent upon the reviewer's bias, pro or con.
Yep, I am biased in favor of the cops. I've walked in those shoes and know how fast something can go from being nothing to a full blown war.
On Mon, 30 Apr 2007 19:49:56 -0400, "dwight" wrote:
Reply to
Reading the articles, it seems as though the video squashed all debate. The majority obviously felt that the video alone was a compelling argument on the side of the police. Having watched it, I agree wholeheartedly.
This ruling is made against the backdrop of the ongoing public debate over high speed chases. I imagine that almost all such pursuits can be second-guessed after the fact, as to whether or not continuing the chase was warranted. I think that the police now show a very healthy respect for the environment in which the chase takes place (or doesn't), which is a direct result of that debate. But I'll give great weight to whatever decision the police make in these cases.
In this particular case, this 19 year old kid could have chosen to pull over at any time in the 8-minute event without any lasting effects. Talk about choices...
Reply to
What we need to evaluate is the traffic stop itself. Governments see the traffic stops as money making excerise and use underposted speed limits to increase their revenues. Cops see it as a way to catch criminals. The public in general is annoyed and hassled.
But what happens when you get some kid or someone else who makes poor decisions? He cannot afford being selected for taxation so he runs. What about someone who's wanted on some stupid petty warrant? He runs too. Most of these people that have warrants, the government can just go to the address on their DL to find them. Instead it waits until they have an interaction with law enforcement at the side of the road.
High speed pursuits could be cut down by getting rid of selective roadside taxation and just doing some simple police work to pick up people with warrants.

Reply to
Brent P
Then I have to wonder how the hell did it end up going so far to begin with?? Must have been yahoo's family on the jury.
Reply to
And our "Justice System" strikes again.
Thank god for that. There's way too many of those knuckleheads running around loose.
That's because you have a brain, and more than half a gram of common sense.
Reply to
On Mon, 30 Apr 2007 23:35:34 -0500,
Nothing personal, Brent, but you objections to police activities in the area of traffic enforcement have been obvious for a long time.
It's the same old story. Many people want the cops out stopping the bad guys, as long as they are not the ones being stopped. And if the suspect is injured, it's the cops fault for chasing them. In other words, they give tacit approval to people who break the laws society institutes.
That's as bad as the "illegal immigrant" problem. If someone enters the country illegally, it's a crime. But the do-gooders want to give the "criminals" amnesty. Would they see it the same way if an "illegal" entered their home without permission, and demanded to be fed, clothed, educated, and their medical taken care of? And if that same illegal bore a child in that home and then demanded to be allowed to remain their forever, would the owner still see things the same way?
You don't want pursuits for traffic offenses because it's just another form of taxation and revenue collection.... UNTIL.... your child is the one killed by a speeder. One accident I will never forget... a father was walking with his two children to the store to buy the girl her birthday gift. A teen ripped out of a side street, slid sideways, off the pavement, and the girl took the full impact. The father had been able to push the boy aside.
Now, how many times had he driven like that and not been stopped before he finally killed a child? But we never should have gone after him until he did more than just speed and break traction? Maybe if we had been able to stop him earlier, he might have learned a lesson and it never would have reached the level it did. Maybe not. But we never had the chance to find out because our pursuit limits were not more than 5mph in a residential area, and not more than 15mph over the posted on the highway.
We've already raised a generation which has little or no respect for any kind of authority; not even parents, let alone the law. The ones who were once the "bad guys" have become the "good guys". Why should they care or have respect for anything when they know the police aren't allowed to chase after them?
Reply to
Sounds like some people want to turn cops into UPS drivers. You report to the cop shop and pick up your route each day for six or seven deliveries. I was thinking, what if all cops were ordered to let all high speed runners just go? If someone robs a bank or kills another person, they just have to drive fast and reckless, and the police can't stop them. I say let the police do their job.
Reply to
If it wasn't personal, then you wouldn't mention it. You must somehow feel that my dislike of checkpoints, defining the majority of drivers as violators, etc and so forth is discrediting.
People don't understand that their own rights are tied to the rights of the people they object to. I do, which is why I object to checkpoints, traffic law that defines most people as violators so cops can pick and choose, etc and so forth. I don't like selective enforcement and never have.
What if it's just a bystandard that's injured? Then the suspect is blamed for running...
Search for immigration by the numbers on google video.
Did you know that cops often let illegals go for things they ticket and arrest citizens for in some parts of the nation? Wasn't it the Austin TX police that got an award from the Mexican government for just that? It's part of bigger scheme IMO, but that's way OT.
Um no. I want the speed limits to make sense and set properly by the best known engineering method available. This way, it doesn't define safe drivers as violators of the law. Those still in violation are truely a problem. When a speed limit is underposted, it is about revenue and things other than safety.
Two children were killed last year in the chicago area on a road I am familiar with. One was when Mrs. Magoo drove up on the sidewalk and ran over the family. She was not speeding. The other was killed when a rental truck being driven by someone fleeing the cops crashed into the car he was riding in, going about 2X the normal traffic speed. The normal traffic speed is anywhere from 5-15 over depending on traffic.
That's not speeding, that's reckless driving. But what if it was Mrs. Magoo? What then? What do you blame when the kid is killed by some moron doing 35 in a 35? A couple cheap tickets for driving on the sidewalk and failure to control? Because afterall, Mrs. Magoo just screwed up... right?
How would an underposted speed limit saved the child? It's a number on the sign.
You were chasing the kid at the time? That's not just exceeding the speed painted on a sign, but something far from it. Why should the vast majority of people who are not criminal, who don't do these things be made violators of the law so that you can pick these people out and 'nip em in the bud'? Mr. and Mrs. Magoo actually violate the vehicle code time and time again and they aren't 'nipped in the bud', instead we are all told to drive slower to avoid them!
The problem is the society moved away from one where people took on certain jobs but were still citizens themselves to one where there are people and the authorities. The old way was based in a mutual respect, the new way, authority uses fear of what it can do. The problem with fear based authority is that there is a degeneration. There is no respect because authority doesn't respect people, it rules over them.
I have had and have positions of responsibility. Many would say authority, I won't use that word, because I don't rule people. The position is one of responsibility, a burden. I don't enjoy it, but someone has to do it. I expect people to behave themselves and I respect them. Guess what, for the most part I get positive response and don't have to monitor people and look for violations, and so forth. I don't have to threaten or use fear. I explain things. It's amazing how well that works. Sometimes debate, even argue, but I will not use fear.
But that's not society at large. We operate in a fear based system with authorities. And the result we have is the degeration that a fear based system creates. And then what do people do when they fear? They RUN. What happens when they get over fear, they do the same wrong things over again. Fear is poor tool.
Cops use fear as a tool in so many interactions with people. That isn't helping things at all when other factors are raising people to be selfish and rude. In fact, I've found it's completely flipped around, telling people they are rude is considered bad, but being rude is ok. It's fine to be an ass to someone but that other person has to be submissive and turn the other cheek. Trying to figure out that all works into a bigger picture.
Did I argue that police shouldn't be allowed to chase? No. I argued that police and government shouldn't rely on traffic stops to raise revenue and catch criminals, because that would greatly cut down on the number of chases. There's a huge difference that apparently went over your head.
Reply to
Brent P
I have no objection to cops stopping cars for speeding/etc. when there is a genuine issue of public safety; and I have no objection to the high-speed pursuit of cars that don't stop when blue-lighted, regardless of the reason for the original blue-light.
But we all know that some tickets are issued merely to raise money, and every such ticket reduces the reputation of cops. Sorry, Spike, in my book, revenue-driven ticketing is just plain wrong.
Worse even than the tickets issued solely for revenue is the attitude shown by many cops: the attitude that if you don't support the cops in every possible way and in every possible situation, then you are anti-cop. That's wrong.
In this region, city and state cops are notorious for testlying and for internal cover-ups. That's wrong.
The public's perception of cops is certainly not helped when some cops are making in excess of $200,000 per year. But, no legislator dares to even mention reducing the pay/benefits packages, out of fear of the clout of cops. That's wrong.
I've found most cops to be good, moral, people. But there are wrongs in police operations that need to be exposed and corrected, and the image of individual cops continues to be limited by the image of the group.
Reply to
Bob Willard
There are at least three good questions that I've seen about the chase, only one of which was addressed in the decision:
1) artifically low speed limits to raise revenue. Completely irrelevant to the case, sorry. I don't care if the limit was 15 (we have 15mph school zones on 40mph roads around here), when the lights come on, you stop. If you're on a suspended license (the kid in the case was), you make damn sure you don't do anything to get stopped for -- not driving at all being a really good choice, and setting your cruise control for speedlimit-1 being a poor second. Speeding on a back-country road is somewhere near the bottom of possible choices. Haven't heard if he was drunk; if he was, that would move it all the way to the bottom.
2) should the cops have chased him? If a third party had been injured in the case, that would have been a really good question. All I've seen about the case gives the impression that it was just a speed stop; if so, there aren't many jurisdictions that would allow a high-speed chase, as it raises the bar too high for a minor offense. But no third parties were injured, so this one wasn't addressed either.
3) should they have nerfed him? How could anybody watch the tape and conclude otherwise? At that point, he was using his vehicle as a deadly weapon, and had to be stopped. Looking at the lights he ran, the vehicles getting out of the way, and the little trip through the roadblock, they should have stopped him much earlier than they did. A spiked board back at the roadblock would have been a much better way, however (I haven't seen any claims that that was tried).
Reply to
Joe Pfeiffer
Guess what. Some places have done that. Guess what, nothing happens any different there as far as their overall crime rate. IOW, the change in policy had no effect other then to eliminate the deadly police chases thereby lessening the chance of INNOCENT bystanders being killed. The change in policy did NOT increase the number of times people tried to run from the cops. And in most cases they get the guy anyway, just not thru a dangerous pursuit.
It is stupid for the cops to be engaging in high speed pursuits for anything other then things like going after a known murderer. Going after a guy because "he's driving fast and might kill someone" is absurd on it's face. You don't increase safety by encouraging someone to engage in MORE unsafe acts.
I say let the police do their job with FULL regard for the safety of others they might endanger. There are VERY few instances where a high speed pursuit is warranted.
Reply to
Ashton Crusher
You've missed the point entirely. Proper speed limits means only stopping those drivers who should be targeted for enforcement. Less stops mean fewer chases. Same with picking people up at their homes if they have a warrant instead of waiting for them to be pulled over. It's also better for the people because then cops just can't pick and choose anyone to stop. (either being in violation of the speed limit or driving unusually slow)
Driving to the letter law attracts police attention, especially on friday and saturday nights.
Reply to
Brent P
On Mon, 30 Apr 2007 19:49:56 -0400, "dwight" wrote:
From watching this video they clearly should have called off this chase long before it ended. The cops were making a bad situation worse to catch someone who was barely speeding in the first place.
Which makes us all LESS safe then we were before with no meaningful improvement in crime reduction.
I would have ruled in favor of the yahoo to some extent. This chase should have ended after the first minute when they got close enough to get the plate.
Reply to
Ashton Crusher
On Wed, 02 May 2007 11:58:44 -0700, Spike wrote:
Here's a story that further show why so few people respect the cops..
Cops Admit To Planting Marijuana on 92 Year Old Woman Killed in Botched Drug Raid By: Nicole Belle on Sunday, April 29th, 2007 at 3:15 PM - PDT MPP:
Two police officers pleaded guilty Thursday to manslaughter in the shooting death of a 92-year-old woman during a botched drug raid last fall. A third officer still faces charges.[..]
The charges followed a Nov. 21 "no-knock" drug raid on the home of Kathryn Johnston, 92. An informant had described buying drugs from a dealer there, police said. When the officers burst in without warning, Johnston fired at them, and they fired back, killing her.
Fulton County prosecutor Peter Johnson said that the officers involved in Johnston's death fired 39 shots, striking her five or six times, including a fatal blow to the chest.
He said Johnston fired only once through her door and didn't hit any of the officers. That means the officers who were wounded likely were hit by their own colleagues, he said.[..]
Assistant U.S. Attorney Yonette Sam-Buchanan said Thursday that although the officers found no drugs in Johnston's home, Smith planted three bags of marijuana in the home as part of a cover story.
Reply to
Ashton Crusher (Brent P) writes:
No, I haven't. I'm actually a big fan of engineering the road to encourage driving at a safe speed, and then setting a speed limit based on actual usage (so only the nuts are driving over the limit).
That is completely irrelevant in whether the police were justified in ending this chase as they did, which is what the suit was about.
I've only been stopped half a dozen times in my driving career (which extends several decades), and I've never been at the speed limit when it's happened. The cops may watch you more closely (I was once followed for over five miles in my Charger), but a kid in a Cadillac driving the speed limit isn't going to be stopped. Certainly not as readily as one driving 18 over the limit. I notice, incidentally, that you edited out the note that the best way to avoid getting stopped while on a suspended license is to not be driving at all.
Reply to
Joe Pfeiffer
...then just pull over and wave bye bye? What?!?
No, don't think so. At the very least, the police have to follow this nut to be on the scene when he slams into something other than a tree.
When someone fails to surrender, you think they should just be let go?
Reply to
"dwight" writes:
Not exactly. But depending on what you want them for, and what the danger to others is, that may be the best bet -- if all he was wanted for was speeding (and he wasn't driving erratically), the chase probably shouldn't have happened.
If they really think he's going to slam into something other than a tree, they need to get him stopped before that happens. Once the chase was under weigh in earnest, and he was weaving and running stop lights, it was time to get him stopped.
Reply to
Joe Pfeiffer
On Wed, 2 May 2007 22:47:43 -0400, "dwight" wrote:
If doing otherwise, when you are dealing with a SPEEDING TICKET, is going to endanger several hundred other bystanders, YES, wave bye bye.
What do you think would have happened if the first cop had still be in the donut shop and never tried to stop this kid? Since this same level of speeding happens millions of times each day, the vast odds are that had that been what happened the kid would have simply arrived at his destination and gone about his business. Why would you assume anything other then that would have been the case? Yeah, the kid was speeding. He deserves the bulk of the blame but the cops hands are not clean.
Depends on the situation, but with what we know of this situation, yes, it was not worth the risk to hundreds of innocent bystanders lives. Studies where they so exactly that show it doesn't result in more people running. It may surprise you but there are far more serious crimes in the world then speeding and failure to stop.
Reply to
Ashton Crusher
The dangerous chases don't happen as much without the idiotic speed limits and revenuing on the road. That's the relevance. It's a way to reduce these events.
I have.
I've been followed like that a good number of times. usually on the order of 2-3 miles.
Because I had no objection to it. I am presenting an argument on a way to reduce the number of these sort of events.
Reply to
Brent P

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