Police officers pull people over for a variety of reasons from traffic violations to outstanding warrants. Unfortunately, sometimes a driver chooses not to stop when signaled to do so by law enforcement. Drivers may choose to take off for any number of reasons, but whatever the rationale, a pursuit may take place as the officer attempts to get the driver to pull over.
Pursuits occur somewhat frequently in Los Angeles, California. According to the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department “has been involved in 318 pursuits in 2017.” One such pursuit occurred just recently, on Halloween morning. A man was running around near the Olive View UCLA Medical Center and officers chased after him. The Times reported that “[a]t one point the man jumped into the sheriff's cruiser and took off.” Both the “Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol began pursuing the stolen vehicle through the San Fernando Valley.” Early morning commuters were witness to the unusual sight of police cruisers chasing after one of their own vehicles. The pursuit began around 6:45 in the morning and ended about a half an hour later. While no civilians were injured, there was a moment of tension when the “driver of the stolen SUV stopped and reversed into a police vehicle behind it.” An officer who had gotten out of his vehicle fired shots at the suspect's car, but the shots did not hit anyone. The pursuit ended shortly thereafter when the suspect pulled over and surrendered to the police.
This pursuit could have gone much worse, and in fact, other car chases have. The Times analyzed pursuits between 2006 and 2014 and found that “1 in 10 car chases initiated by the Los Angeles Police Department . . . resulted in injuries to civilians.” A July 2017 grand jury report that called for better pursuit training for LAPD officers and L.A. County sheriffs stated that “17% of the car chases that took place in the county in a 12-month period beginning in October 2015 ended in a crash that could have resulted in injury or death.” It also stated that “[t]wo-thirds of those 421 pursuits ended in an arrest.” During this same window of time, “three fleeing drivers were killed and 45 people were injured, including suspects, their passengers or officers.” Of the 318 pursuits that officers have been involved in this year, one civilian died and nine others were injured.
Running from law enforcement after being signaled to pull over can result in much more serious penalties than a traffic ticket. In Washington, fleeing from law enforcement is a class C felony. RCW 46.61.024. The maximum penalty for this offense is up to five years in prison and a ten thousand dollar fine. RCW 9a.20.021. If someone is injured or killed as a result of the pursuit, then the potential penalties can be even more severe. If you have been charged with a crime, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.