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Police chase policies questioned after four deaths

Four violent chases have led to five deaths in four days and have many people questioning police' pursuit policies.
December 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Four violent chases have led to five deaths in four days and have many people questioning police' pursuit policies.

On Monday, a man driving driving a GMC pick-up truck struck at least four other vehicles during a pursuit which ended at Western Avenue and the 10 Freeway.

Northridge chase hospitalizes driver, bystander

In an unrelated incident, at least two people, including a suspect, were injured in a multi-vehicle traffic collision during a police pursuit in Northridge Monday afternoon.

LAPD officers responded to a report of a man with a knife at a Target store at about 3:15 p.m. Two suspects then fled from the scene in a car when police arrived, initiating a pursuit.

The pursuit lasted about one minute before the suspect's car struck a Jeep, knocking it on its side in the intersection of Devonshire Street and Woodley Avenue, then continued into a gas station pumping area, hitting another vehicle and injuring the female passenger inside.

The woman, described as being in her mid-30s, was hospitalized and listed in stable condition. Eyewitnesses said the woman was loudly screaming at the scene of the collision.

The suspect driver sustained lacerations on his head. He was taken into custody and was hospitalized. A second suspect who hopped out of the car a few blocks away was also arrested.

The man in the turned-over Jeep was able to walk away with minor injuries, including a swollen hand and scratches on his leg.

"I didn't even hear the sirens or anything, it was just so quick," said Edward Gaerlan, the Jeep driver. "And then my car flipped. Luckily it saved my life. The cops were just like, 'Oh, luckily you bought this type of car.' If I would have had a smaller vehicle then I don't know what would happen."

"I guess it barely just missed me because I was walking by and I don't know how, I just ran out, I just went the other way and my mom got scared because she thought I got hit with that car," said eyewitness Karina Ramirez.

The incident has many people questioning police' pursuit policies.

"I don't think necessarily if somebody has a knife that that has to be a high-speed chase where you're putting lots and lots of lives in danger," said Samantha Lawrence of La Crescenta.

"All these helicopters, Burbank has tons of helicopters at night, why can't they chase them from the air?," said Maria Leitch of Burbank.

Compton chase ends in fiery crash; 4 dead, including bystander

On Saturday morning, firefighters rushed to put of flames when a high-speed pursuit claimed four lives in Compton, including an innocent bystander.

The incident claimed the life of Stacy Garcia Gray, who had just dropped off her husband at his second job and was returning home to her three little girls.

Investigators say an alleged suspect in a Grand Prix ran a red light and slammed into Gray's car, trapping her inside. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three people in the Grand Prix were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was identified by family members as 20-year-old Shawnice Osborne, and one of the passengers was identified by family as 35-year-old Larry Gilmore. A coroner will need to use dental records to officially identify the suspects.

"I think what people don't realize is that every single day someone dies in a police chase and one out of three victims is an innocent bystander," said Lucas Aragon of Pursuit Safety.

Aragon is an advocate for a group called Pursuit Safety after losing his sister in a police pursuit in 2010.

"A lot of times these are, you know, for really kind of insignificant things," said Aragon.

Corvette pursuit ends in fatal DTLA officer-involved shooting

On Friday, a pursuit that started with a Corvette driver driving erratically ended when the Corvette smashed into a car that ran a red light.

After attempting to drive away in the smashed sports car, Brian Newt Beaird, 51, of Oceanside, staggered to the back of the Corvette.

He appeared to react to what might have been a non-lethal round as a bean-bag bounced off his left leg to the sidewalk. Gunfire then ensued as officers opened fire.

Beaird was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck addressed reporters Monday regarding the investigation on Friday's shooting.

"We investigate these shootings more thoroughly than any entity in the nation," said Beck. "We will release a full report that will be reviewed not only by my staff, but by the inspector general, by the district attorney and by the police commission, which will make the ultimate finding on this."

Beck would not respond to specific questions about whether other officers might have been responding to the sound of the non-lethal round when they opened fire.

"That kind of stuff is speculation" said Beck," speculation isn't always wrong, but I'm not going to confirm any of that, we will work through this."

Police say if you don't give chase the suspect will get away, but advocates say that we should better utilize technology like GPS so that those chases can be safer and don't put as many people in danger.


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