A reckless high speed police chase through a Yonkers neighborhood ended suddenly and tragically when two teenagers slammed head-on into a sedan, killing the driver.
The chase began when officers investigated a complaint of two suspects who were breaking into parking meters. Instead of pulling over, the two unnamed teenagers – a 14-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy – accelerated down Warburton Avenue. According to a witness, speeds eventually exceeded 90 miles per hour on a residential street that had a 30mph speed limit. Witnesses also state that the pursuing officer was only about a car length behind the speeding van. The teenage driver eventually lost control of the van and crossed over into oncoming traffic, colliding with 46-year-old Sharlene Stinson and killing her. Both teenagers were also rushed to an area hospital with serious injuries.
When questioned about the incident, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano referred questions about police pursuit policies to the department, which only stated that the investigation was in the preliminary stage.
High Speed Police Chase
To be blunt, it is difficult to imagine a chase more “reckless” than this one, because it has all the elements commonly associated with these incidents:
- Minor Offense: While offenders should always be caught and prosecuted, if at all possible, the fact that an innocent bystander died to recover a few dollars in change raises serious questions about the officer’s activity.
- Close Pursuit: Despite evidence that suspects stop fleeing if the police break off their pursuit, the officer in this case was relentless.
- Disregard of Safety: Not only did the officer chase the suspects at three times the speed limit, the chase apparently continued even after the van crossed into oncoming traffic.
To obtain compensation in these cases, plaintiffs generally may pursue one of two theories:
- Policy Violation: Many departments have written policies restricting these chases, and a violation of this policy is almost conclusive evidence of negligence.
- Reckless Disregard: In some chases, the officers almost exhibit a contempt for the safety of persons and property.
Victims, especially innocent bystanders, are entitled to money for their economic and non-economic damages.
There has been a rash of dangerous high-speed police chases in New York City recently, which may be the beginning of a very disturbing trend. For a free consultation with attorneys who hold negligent drivers responsible for their actions, contact us. Out main office is located across from Grand Central Station.