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Police Pursue Red Light Runner Through Much Of New Jersey

A Brooklyn man led police on a high-speed chase through several New Jersey towns before he eventually crashed into a Paramus residence.
Authorities pulled over 25-year-old Marlon Vancooten for running a red light at the intersection of Westminster Place and Outwater Lane in Saddle Brook. As an officer approached his vehicle, Mr. Vancooten accelerated and fled into Rochelle Park. When the chase reached Paramus, Mr. Vancooten lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a house; the vehicle then burst into flames. Mr. Vancooten exited the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot, but officers apprehended him at the scene.
He now faces charges of evading police and motor vehicle violations. Additional charges may be pending, as authorities evaluate substances found inside the rented vehicle.
High Speed Police Chase
Many law enforcement agencies have wrestled with this issue for decades. On the one hand, high speed police chases injure and kill more people than floods, lightning strikes, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. There are also high-profile incidents, like a Detroit police cruiser which hopped a curb during a high-speed chase and killed two children.
At the same time, officers have a compelling need to pursue offenders, even for seemingly minor infractions. First, these suspects often have felony outstanding warrants for violent crimes. Second, if officers stop giving chase, suspects may become emboldened to run more frequently and cause even more damage.
At trial, the jury is often asked to strike a balance between these two competing interests. While juries almost never second-guess officers, they will hold them accountable to an objectively reasonable standard, like:

  • Reckless Indifference: The above story is an ideal example. The suspect ran a red light, which is not even an arrestable offense in New Jersey, and had no other trouble with the law. The chase accomplished nothing and risked innocent lives.
  • Policy Violation: Many departments have permanent policies that at least somewhat restrict high-speed chases. Other times, there is an order issued like “pursue with caution” or “do not chase.” These things can be found during discovery and used at trial.

Damages in a negligence case include compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses, if a serious injury is involved. Punitive damages may also be available, in some cases.
Risky high-speed police chases often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with attorneys who make negligent drivers pay, whether they wear badges or not, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in a personal injury case.

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