ABC 57 investigates if police pursuit policy was followed in Tuesday's chase
ABC 57 investigates whether or not policy was followed during Tuesday’s police pursuit that led to the fatal crash that killed two teenage brothers.
The following is not an allegation that Officer Nathan Gates did not follow protocol. It is simply a comparison between policy and what we see and hear in the dash cam footage.
For the first 26 seconds of the dash cam video, Officer Gates follows a stolen SUV carrying four teenagers, traveling at normal speeds.
Then, he flips the switch to his lights, the sound comes on, and the two and a half minute pursuit begins on Lincoln Way West.
The South Bend Police Department’s policy says:
“The decision to initiate pursuit must be based on the pursuing officer’s conclusion that the immediate danger to the officer and the public created by the pursuit is less than the immediate or potential danger to the public should the suspect remain at large.”
In plain English, that means, would a high speed chase or the suspects getting away be more dangerous to the public?
To make that decision, the officer follows these four guidelines:
- Road, weather, and environmental conditions
- Population density and vehicular and pedestrian traffic
- The relative performance capabilities of the pursuit vehicle and the vehicle being pursued
- The seriousness of the offense.
We’re focusing on the first two.
The dash cam video shows that it was raining and roads were wet.
However, that alone does not mean the officer should not have started the pursuit.
In terms of traffic, at one moment, we count seven cars lining the sides of the road.
Still, we don’t know if that should have been a red flag.
Policy also states:
“Units must terminate a pursuit if the unit has no radio communication with a law enforcement dispatch center.”
From the time the chase starts until Officer Gates finally gets through to dispatch, about 30 seconds passes with seven failed attempts at communicating.
Police say the ‘bong’ sound we hear in the footage means the officer is being blocked by other radio traffic or he is not getting signal.
That happened about 12 times in this chase.
We still are not sure how long officers are supposed to try getting through before calling off the chase.
When Officer Gates did make contact with dispatch, he definitely followed procedure with relaying information, saying “Southbound. 55 miles per hour. No traffic. South through Hamilton.”
From the dash cam footage, we could make out 13 times that Officer Gates got through to dispatch until that fateful moment that ended teenage brothers, Samuel Phillips and Jermaine Fleming’s, lives.
This incident is currently being investigated by a third party.