Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why Police Officers Need to Watch their Speed in Car Chases

A recent settlement by the city of New Haven may now signal to police officers that they need to watch their speeds in car chases. On an evening in February 2006, New Haven police officers were directed to find Jasper Sullivan, a man alleged to have been in possession of illegal drugs.

Officers were able to locate Mr. Sullivan in his vehicle. Mr. Sullivan, however, refused to stop for police, ultimately leading to a high-speed chase for Sullivan through the streets of New Haven. Some witnesses estimated officers drove at speeds ranging from approximately 60 to 90 miles per hour. The car chase ended with Mr. Sullivan violently crashing into the car of Laricha Langley, a then seventeen-year-old girl.

Ms. Langley sued the City of New Haven. Connecticut General Statute § 14-283a authorizes municipalities, such as New Haven, to implement procedures regarding police chases. Because police chases in New Haven are only permitted in cases involving serious crimes, such as murder, rape or kidnapping, Langley argued that New Haven police violated police protocol in their chase for Mr. Sullivan. The city maintained that no chase had actually been initiated. Rather than risk the unpredictability of a trial, the city settled for $727,000.

If you have questions regarding police misconduct or police procedures where you live, please contact the attorneys at Brown, Paindiris & Scott.