Pursuit Policy Reviewed In Death Of Boy, 13
Boynton Beach is being sued after a 13-year-old boy who had just received a dirt bike for Christmas was pursued by police officers and killed. Today, many police departments are reviewing their use of force and pursuit policies to avoid accidents and injury to the public. This includes major cities that avoid chases in residential areas.
In this case, an officer attempted to pull the boy over for riding his dirt bike in a restricted area. The boy fled and a chase ensued with both parties reaching speeds of 80 mph. The chase ended when the boy crashed his dirtbike and was killed on the 26th of December.
The officer was cleared of criminal conduct but was fired from the police department for violating their pursuit policy. In this case, the department had a “no pursuit” policy for minor infractions. Had the officer followed that policy, the boy would still be alive. In fact, that’s why the policy exists in the first place. It places everyone in danger; the police officer, the suspect, and anyone who happens to be unlucky enough to cross their paths.
Allegations against the officer are damning. According to the family, he had already caused the deaths of two other Black people including a 5-year-old boy prior to this incident. In other words, he already likely exhausted his warnings when this incident occurred. The plaintiffs blame the city for retaining a bad cop who is responsible for the deaths of three people including two children.
Yeah, juries don’t like it when members of the public are insubordinate to police officers. But as Americans, they don’t like being told what to do. So, if you’re going to impose rules on them, you’d better follow them yourself. That is essentially the attitude that the general public has toward law enforcement today. You enforce the rules, so you must follow the rules. Everyone has to follow rules, so why should law enforcement be special?
In that kind of zeitgeist, it becomes very difficult for the defense to put up “an upstanding citizen defense” or a “just doing my job” defense because a) the department has a policy that was violated and, b) this particular officer violated that policy before and it resulted in death.
In other words, the plaintiffs are going to paint this guy as someone who cares not a wit for others, his commanding officers, or the general public, and enjoys engaging in chases regardless of the consequences. The department cannot afford to put him up on the stand, so they will likely move to settle the case.
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