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‘I Thought I Was In The Movies’

A police-pursued car caused a multi-vehicle crash in Westchester County which left a woman, who was holding a baby, clinging to life at a local hospital.
Officials state that NYPD officers spotted a speeding car in the Bronx on Nereid Avenue and immediately began a high-speed pursuit. The NYPD says that officers broke off the pursuit when the suspect vehicle left the Bronx and entered Mount Vernon, but witnesses at the scene seem to dispute that contention.
One of those witnesses was local resident Merlyn Gumbs, who was at a stop sign at the corner of 4th Street and 8th Avenue when the crash occurred directly in front of her. “I thought I was in the movies,” she remarked. The speeding car crashed into three other vehicles directly in front of Greater Centennial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, where Bible study was just ending. There is also a crowded neighborhood health clinic and popular park on that block. The driver and one passenger were taken into custody at the scene. The injured woman, who suffered a serious head injury, was in the backseat of the fleeing car; the child is reportedly in stable condition.
This is so crazy. This is so uncertain with the police,” Ms. Gumbs concluded. “For you to follow a car at such speed, knowing that this is a health station, a church, a park; come on, it’s a nice day.”
High Speed Police Chases
When they are off the record, many officers will likely admit that they rather like high-speed pursuits due to the tremendous adrenaline rush and that their only priority in these situations is to “get the bad guy.” As a result, about one in one hundred reckless police pursuits result in a fatality, and the casualty is often an innocent bystander. These chases continue unabated in New York and other areas of the country, despite evidence that the suspects stop running if officers break off the pursuit, and despite the presence of technological tools, like GPS, that make these chases unnecessary.
To obtain damages from the city or other government entity, injured victims have basically two options in civil court:

  • Extreme Recklessness: A high-speed pursuit in a residential area during daytime certainly indicates conscious disregard for the safety of others.
  • Policy Violation: The NYPD prohibits high-speed chases “whenever the risks to uniformed members of the service and the public outweigh the danger to the community if the suspect is not immediately apprehended;” actual violation of this policy is a fact question for the jury.

In both these instances, the offense that the suspect allegedly committed is a significant factor in determining liability.
Reckless police chases are among the most heinous kinds of car crashes. For a free consultation with attorneys who make negligent drivers pay, contact Proner & Proner. We have six office locations in the Tri-State area.

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