Statistically, 150 innocent bystanders a year die in reckless high-speed police chases. Since the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration relies on voluntary reporting to compile the number, the actual casualty figure may be quite a bit higher, since police officers are often reluctant to “tattle” on fellow employees. Over 90 percent of these chases are for non-violent crimes; in fact, over 40 percent are over a traffic ticket.
Recently, there was an extremely reckless high speed police chase just a few miles north of here. A Waco man died after a high-speed police chase ended with a one-sided shootout alongside Interstate 35 near Hewitt.
Waco police state that they staked out the residence of a suspect in several area convenience store robberies. When the man returned to his East Waco residence one day shortly after noon, he spotted officers and fled the scene in a green Ford Expedition. He led officers onto southbound Interstate 35 at speeds exceeding 80 mph. The man eventually ran his vehicle into a ditch when officers attempted to puncture his tires. Officers then converged on the disabled vehicle and fired an “undisclosed” number of times. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
It was unclear whether the officers shot the man while he was inside the car or after he attempted to flee on foot. Although officers state that the man was carrying a handgun, it is also unclear whether he raised or fired the weapon. A police sergeant remarked that it was “fortunate that no officers or civilians were injured.” Texas Rangers are scheduled to investigate the incident.
High-Speed Police Chase
Police officers obviously do not have a duty to obey traffic laws during a pursuit and some chases are necessary. But they do have a duty to avoid recklessly endangering civilians during these incidents. The high-speed chase in Waco along a busy freeway during daylight hours, followed by the subsequent shootout that took place under questionable circumstances, may be a good example of reckless behavior.
Many individual law enforcement agencies have written policies concerning high-speed chases. If officers disregard these written policies and go all-out to “catch the bad guy,” that act is often clear evidence of recklessness. Damages in a high-speed chase can include compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, as well as punitive damages in some cases.
Police officers should uphold the law at all times if at all possible. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. There are no upfront legal fees if we take your case.