8.03.2012

Double-Fatal Crash Raises Questions

At about 4:30 pm on Wednesday, tragedy struck suddenly as two people were killed in a horrific car-crash. The wreck occurred where Worrall Avenue intersects with the Eastbound Arterial highway (Baker Street section) in Poughkeepsie, New York.

What we know at this time, is that police were in pursuit of a Chevrolet Malibu when the crash occurred. According to a police statement, the vehicle was driving aggressively and failed to stop for a red light when it struck another car, a Kia Optima.The driver of the Kia, and the man's wife riding in the front passenger seat, were both killed. Two children in the backseat of the Kia were injured and taken to a local hospital. There were also two passengers in the suspect vehicle who sustained injuries.

Initial reports indicated that police had either seen the suspect vehicle driving erratically and/or that they had received 911 calls from other motorists. This has not yet been substantiated however, and others have stated that the pursuit was actually initiated because of an outstanding warrant against the driver which then led to his aggressive driving as he fled police. News reports confirm that the suspect has two outstanding warrants, but do not specify what the warrants are for. The 22 year-old suspect-driver was also on parole for an attempted armed robbery in the city. It seems plausible that police cruiser unit camera system may have gotten a "hit" on the license plate of the suspect vehicle, which then led the officer to attempt a traffic stop.

The local news paper also reports that the suspect vehicle ran a red-light at the intersection, while trying to flee from police, causing the crash. This report, apparently based on a police statement, conflicts with another account however. A woman claiming to have been in the suspect vehicle, who then commented at the Poughkeepsie Journal via Facebook, indicates that police attempted a P.I.T. maneuver, causing the suspect vehicle to go careening out of control through the intersection at high speed. Other commenters there also make that claim and state that there are dozens of witnesses to corroborate that account.

The suspect has since been arraigned on manslaughter charges, with bail set at $250,000 ($500k bond.) The suspect appeared teary-eyed and quivering according to news reports. At the arraignment, the judge declared that the suspect's actions were ""a gross deviation from the standard of conduct."

Whoa, wait just a second here. I can't say I have much sympathy at all for this asshole who decided it was okay to run from the cops and got two people killed in the process. But at the same time, we do have a standard of justice in this country, and for good reason. Courts are not supposed to be justified lynch-mob arenas. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Was the judge there? Did the judge see what happened, from start to finish? I don't think so. So what gives this judge the right to pass judgement before the facts of the case have been presented. Is that not what a trial is for?

And again, not that I have much sympathy for the suspect here at all, but if some of these claims are true, then the police must share in the culpability here. If it was the officer's PIT maneuver that actually caused the wreck, then he is just as guilty as the suspect driver.

Also, if all of this was over some bullshit warrant for failing to appear at court or something minor like that, then one has to seriously ask, was it really worth it? Granted, it was the suspect himself who chose to flee, putting lives in danger, for whatever reason. But there are better ways to handle a warrant, there are better tactics to catch a fleeing suspect in a city during rush-hour traffic.

For those that are not familiar with the area, the Arterial highway is a 3-lane highway but has a speed limit of 30-mph with heavy traffic, and well-traveled cross streets every few hundred yards. This is not like some California freeway where cops will spin-out a suspect that goes careening out into some field. This was in the middle of rush-hour in the middle of a city.

"A" marks the intersection
Now after having said all of that, I believe that the suspect should face the MAXIMUM penalty for manslaughter, two counts, no parole. Whether the sentences for both counts should run consecutively or concurrently, I would say should be based on whether a PIT maneuver were actually performed. Of course, that is not the legal standard, just my own personal opinion, trying to weigh and balance culpability in a general manner.

If it does turn out that the officer pulled a PIT maneuver, he too should face charges, but I would agree with lenient sentencing. The department should also be sued, and their policies changed. All of that of course, if, reiterate, if, that is what happened there.

All in all, this is a terrible tragedy for all involved. May the departed rest in peace, may those left behind be comforted by loved ones, may time heal all wounds, and may justice be served accurately.

More details at : YNN NEWS






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