Philadelphia Police Chase or Not? Tragedy beyond belief regardless.
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on June 14th, 2009
A careening car, four young victims – was it a police chase?
Even as the police investigation continues, questions persist in the deaths of three young children and a 22-year-old woman in Philadelphia’s Feltonville neighborhood on June 10, where an attempted vehicle stop by police resulted in a vehicle chase, a fleeing car and a tragedy that has rocked the city. According to an account of the crash in The Philadelphia Inquirer, officers were responding to a 9-1-1 report about a motorcyclist who was attacked by two men in a gray Pontiac Grand Am. One of the men stole the victim’s motorcycle while the man was stopped at an intersection, then fled as the Pontiac was driven away simultaneously by an accomplice. Soon after police got the report, an officer pulled up behind the car nearby and pursued it, according to the newspaper.
Tragically, several blocks away, with the police in pursuit, the car jumped a curb and struck a 22-year-old woman, her 11-month old daughter, and two other children – ages seven and five. Two of the children died at the scene, one died after arriving in a hospital and the mother died the next day.
The suspects were both captured and arrested.
For Philadelphia police, the investigation will now focus on what kind of pursuit was being made.
Was it a high-speed chase?
Did the fleeing suspect in the Pontiac meet the criteria set by police themselves that would permit a high-speed pursuit?
Or, was it an improper pursuit by police, followed by a desperate move by a fleeing suspect who was trying to escape?
All of that will have to be resolved in the future by police, prosecutors, lawyers and the courts. For now, this case puts a spotlight on the bigger issue of innocent bystanders at risk during any high-speed pursuits by law enforcement officers.
There’s no way to bring these four innocent victims back, but civil actions (the type of lawsuits that the lawyers of MyPhillyLawyers engage in everyday) will bring answers, perhaps changes in the procedures the police use in high speed chases and some solice to the victims.
Our law firm has handled similar accidents involving Philadelphia police vehicles that were involved in chases in recent years, and such suits are one way of easing the pain for injured victims and their families.
Our deepest heartfelt condolences to the victims and to their families who were involved in this senseless tragedy.