BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Now that two people are dead and several others are badly hurt, a law enforcement expert tells the 9News Investigators a deadly police chase from New Roads to Baton Rouge should have never happened.
Andrew Scott, a retired chief of police and law enforcement expert with AJS Consulting out of Florida, says this chase became riskier when law enforcement got involved.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked the consultant if he thinks the chase should have ended sooner.
“Stolen vehicles, although a felony, is a property crime and so therefore, chasing after a vehicle that is stolen and there’s no evidence or any indication that the individual was engaged in some type of violent crime, the pursuit should not have been initiated and number two, stopped either by the supervisor or the pursuing officer,” said Scott.
Scott says before a pursuit can begin, officers must weigh the risks involved in the chase. He believes if there was not a violent crime and this was simply over a stolen car, catching the suspect did not outweigh the risk.
“The danger of pursuits jeopardizes the general community far more than if the suspect was allowed to escape. Okay, so with that being said, in this case, obviously there was no violent crime that had been committed. It was a simple property crime,” Scott added.
Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux believes his deputies did everything as best they could and tells WAFB they’re put in a tough spot no matter what.
“We’re danged if we do and danged if we don’t,” said Thibodeaux. “My guys are acting in good faith. They’re pursuing a stolen car, number one, and one, this vehicle is operating in a very unsafe manner; it becomes a danger to the public.”
According to police, the Camaro was stolen off Leake Avenue in Baton Rouge. One neighbor, who lives on that street but did not want to be identified, says they heard a car was stolen over the weekend. The neighbor says they were horrified to wake up Tuesday morning (Oct. 27) to hear how things ended up.
“It’s very shocking,” the neighbor said. “It shouldn’t have gone that far.”
Several innocent people are caught up in all this, including Thaddeus Johnson Jr., 22, who died after the suspect’s car slammed into his during the chase. The sheriff wonders how much worse things could have turned out had they called off the chase earlier and says the person behind the wheel of that stolen car had the power to call this off before they ever got involved.
“It’s a stolen car,” said Sheriff Thibodeaux. “What are you running for? If you pull on the side of the road, we’ll pick the car up and you’ll get a ride home. You’ll probably get a ticket for that, so what’s the deal?”
Scott tells WAFB it’s too early to say, but he would not be surprised if multiple civil lawsuits come out of this case.
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