Sep 23, 2020

L.A. is One of the Car Chase Capitals of the World

High speed police chase
Police Cruiser

A high-speed chase occurs when:

An uncooperative person suspected of a crime is being arrested or detained by police. But rather than submit, and be taken into custody, the suspect absconds in a personally owned or stolen get-away vehicle. While driving away, the suspect will use erratic, evasive maneuvers, trying to escape from law enforcement attempting to arrest him or her. Three strikers are the typical suspects to try and make an escape. After all, in their minds, they have nothing to lose.

Annually in the United States, tens of thousands of people are chased by police after they allegedly violated the law. And in some cases, it may be a minor infraction or misdemeanor offense. Los Angeles is the car chase capital of the world. And what happens during and after the chase is what we see and hear about in the news.

The stark options for them are life in prison, or maybe they can get away scot-free. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, in 2002, there were at least 700 police car chases reported in the City of Los Angeles alone. High-speed chases, like other emergency vehicle-related scenarios, are known causes of catastrophic injury and death to bystanders and other motorists. The purpose of this article is to make you aware of the risks, how to avoid them, and who to sue if you are a victim.

Turn on the local news, and there is a fair chance you'll see a video of a car chase. Police car chases are not just a Southern California thing. However, recent evidence shows that it is more prevalent in L.A. Perhaps the most famous of all of these car chases is the OJ Simpson Bronco getaway. Broadcast on live TV across the country it burned the idea of such chases into our brain.

Today, the greater Los Angeles metro area sees more car chases than any other. There are many reasons why this is, and we're here to examine them.

  • Part of it has to do with the great weather. It's almost always warm and sunny in SoCal. Much less likely to see a high-speed chase on I-90 in two feet of snow in Buffalo, New York. Crazier things happen, but likely not in this case.
  • Car-friendly roads play a large part, too. Southern Cali was built for and around the auto. It is no wonder that a large number of freeways and wide roads would encourage such pursuits. The asphalt jungle allows for a unique situation here rather than the back roads of Colorado.
  • A different approach to law enforcement also plays a role. The LAPD has a separate manual than the NYPD. Besides, such chases would be difficult on the crowded streets of another city. Here in L.A., it almost seems natural.

L.A. High-Speed Police Pursuits - A Complicated Situation.

Of course, the above are just some examples. It doesn't look like the number of car chases will fall anytime soon. However, increased awareness of their potential dangers can improve road safety. No one wants to be on the wrong side of a police chase gone wrong. Understanding some of the reasons why they start in the first place will reduce crashes and injuries

The problem with high-speed police chases is that innocent people tend to be placed at risk as police cruisers in hot pursuit chase absconding perpetrators. And the job of the police is to balance the public safety of a menace to society being free to wreak havoc, over causing death or injury to innocence during an attempted apprehension. And the danger in many cases is fatal, especially to joggers, bystanders, and fellow motorists. Many car accident lawyers end up suing the police, which is not an easy effort.

I am Michael Ehline. I am a car accident lawyer with offices in Los Angeles. And I have additional meeting locations up and down the State of California. I am an expert in accident reconstruction and biomechanics from a legal perspective. I also am an expert in the use of force and have a background as a firearms instructor and small arms expert. I am a former U.S. Marine, and I have been in martial arts, including Judo, Okinawan Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and American boxing.

I have litigated and won many cases against the police for civil rights violations, as well as in defense of the Second Amendment. I have included the below valuable information about the car chase fatalities to help people understand the risks we face as citizens, what can be done, and who to sue when someone you love is killed in a high-speed police chase accident.

FBI Statistics - One Killed Per Day In Police Chases?

According to an FBI statistical report, high-speed police chases kill one person a day nationwide, and innocent bystanders represent 42% of the fatalities. In other words, almost half of those people killed were likely minding their own business. Hence, they were in no way connected to the automobile chase.

According to other federal records, police are not immune to being fatally injured in high-speed chases. Also, this type of pursuit ends up in car crashes with at least 139 police officers killed so far.

police are not immune to being fatally injured in high speed chases...

Authorities maintain that high-speed pursuits are necessary when uncooperative drivers or suspects flee the cops. The belief is that by not pursuing them, it would send criminals a message that if they take off, they won’t be chased. So this gives them no reason to fear the police when they are operating a vehicle.

In effect, many police feel that while casualties are unfortunate, especially when it is an innocent bystander or police officer. Also, it is an unavoidable consequence of the job. Their attitude is society should do a better job instilling patriotism, love of country, and respect for the Constitution into the citizenry. That way, we would likely return to the low crime rates of the '50s.

There are opponents of this belief in law enforcement that admit high-speed chases are dangerous. And they promote avoiding quests and using alternative means to enforce the law. This is the opposite end of the spectrum that gives criminals a pass to save lives in the here and now. Unfortunately, this leaves perps free to continue harming another person somewhere else.  And also, it breeds a certain disrespect and contempt for the law by both the protected and the criminals.

  • The DOJ Thinks that High-Speed Chases are The Most Dangerous of All Police Activities

The Justice Department has labeled high speed chases “the most dangerous of all ordinary police activities.” (Source.) They have advised reducing these pursuits that all police departments set strict guidelines. These are to determine when law enforcement officers should or should not chase a driver fleeing.

Even with the Justice Departments' warnings about police chases, it is still up to the police departments. And most leave it to the officer's discretion whether they should pursue a fleeing driver or not. There is proof with police records that the officers do not always make the right choice.

In California, a review of the high-speed chase police department records show that approximately 89% or more of these pursuits were for minor violations. So vehicle code issues such as expired registration, speeding, and reckless driving. In defense of law enforcement agencies and officers, it is not solely their fault these pursuits occur.

But it is the driver who has violated the law that in fleeing initiates the chase. It is a police officer's job to investigate and enforce the law, not to protect citizens. Their job is to stop crime and criminal violations of the law. In this respect, it is understandable why police officers often choose to pursue a driver who has violated the law.

Short of Deporting Illegal Criminals and Slowing Unchecked Immigration, What Else Can Be Done to Reduce Pursuits?

With lawlessness and sanctuary cities on the rise, we have a severe problem on our hands. Now we have violent criminals using our system against us. Has our government created this problem for political purposes?  Short of deporting these bad elements which are not supposed to be here, what then is the answer?

  • What Can Technology Offer to Prevent Deaths and Injuries From High-Speed Police Pursuits?

Police officers and high-speed chases are one place technology has left behind for longer than a decade. And it has been closer to a decade since the last advances in this area of law enforcement. But there are some devices like a GPS tracker tag, which the police could shoot as an adhesive GPS tracker.

Attaching this tracker to a fleeing vehicle would make a pursuit meaningless since the car could be tracked. This has been commercially available since 2010. And out of about 18,000 police departments, only approximately 20 use the tracker. Other law enforcement officials have declined its use since the police officers would need to be within 30 feet of the fleeing vehicle to be able to deploy the GPS adhesive tracker. The other factor in the decision is the cost, which is five thousand dollars.

One invention shuts-off vehicle engines by using microwave transmissions. But this isn’t available commercially. But it is still in development and research by Fiore Industries. Their reason is they claim not enough funding.

This raises questions as to why no major technological advances in existence are widely used in modern car chases to prevent loss of life. It appears to be the costs. Technology costs money. And with the present defund the police movement, this is probably not something we will see for some time. And police officers would be able to track the fleeing driver or suspect without speed being involved. Without technological advances that are affordable to law enforcement agencies even with Justice Department warnings, there is little chance of ending high-speed chases or loss of life.

Recent Examples.

Recently loss of life during police pursuits has not diminished, and in just this year some of the ones that resulted in innocent bystanders being killed include; a 60-year-old federal worker died March 19 in the vicinity of Washington D.C., a 63-year-old grandmother in Indianapolis, a 25-year-old man July 18th, in New Jersey.

Recently in San Bernardino, California, the high-speed chase and shootout there ended with the deaths of two Islamic Jihadists.  One of whom came here legally on a Visa to marry a citizen of Middle Eastern descent born to parents who support groups like CAIR, linked to terror and Islamic extremism. His immigrant parents ostensibly radicalized the male, and in a local CAIR backed Mosque.

By simply enforcing existing immigration laws instead of pandering to special interest groups, we could cut down on crime. (Learn more about terror funding).

Preventing and mitigating crime prevents chases. Short of this, law enforcement has tough choices to make. Also, they almost always have political ramifications that reverberate to elections. Until politicians start placing the interests of law-abiding Americans and stop kicking the can down the road in exchange for campaign funding, it is likely that the high-speed chase will become an even more familiar aspect of the American landscape.

Above, we discussed high-speed chase fatalities, why they happen, and some futuristic devices to stop suspects in their tire tracks. Whether these will be widely deployed to stop criminals means we will rely more upon spike strips, vehicle roadblocks, and pursuit intervention technique like pit maneuvers will be deployed to stop dangerous criminals in getaway vehicles.

Above, we talked about high-speed chases, and why they happen. Next, we uncovered that Los Angeles as the car chase capital of the world. Also, we covered that innocent people can get hurt and do often get killed or injured during these high-speed pursuits. Sometimes the victims can sue for their troubles. Other times, the police are immune, and the criminal has no money to pay up. So, where does that leave you?

You may have options, but you need to speak with a lawyer. Contact Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC to learn about your rights at (213) 596-9642. and "Deputies in helicopter shoot wrong-way driver after the chase."

ABC7 Los Angeles. September 19, 2015. Accessed February 13, 2017.

Need to schedule an appointment for legal advice in a city near you? Reach out to a Los Angeles, California personal injury lawyer specialist near you or another location or practice area as follows:

Torrance wrongful death lawyer, Torrance car accident lawyer, Torrance motorcycle accident lawyer.