90 MPH PIT maneuver on a fleeing SUV kills 2                                      Back
On August 17, 2004 Colleten County, SC deputies clocked a Nissan Pathfinder heading south on I95 at 86 mph in a 70 mph zone. 21-year-old Katie Sharp of Holly Hill, Fla., the driver of the Nissan SUV, refused to stop and a 60 mile pursuit ensued. Reaching speeds of over 100 mph the pursuit crossed the state line into Georgia. A Georgia State Trooper assumed the lead in the pursuit and a short time later he executed a PIT maneuver on Ms. Sharp's vehicle. Her vehicle, spun, and became airborne as it left the roadway, crashed into a tree and Ms. Sharp and her passenger, 17-year-old Pennsylvania resident Garrett Gabe, were killed instantly. 

PursuitWatch questions a number of statements made by Georgia and South Carolina Law Enforcement officials concerning the pursuit:

Georgia State Patrol spokesman, Larry Schnall, said  "The trooper executed his training. He acted properly. It was a long, dangerous chase and we felt we needed to stop it before some innocent bystander got killed."
The simplest and safest way to stop a pursuit is for police to disengage. Once the suspects believe they are not being pursued it is obviously no longer in their best interest to continue. They either attempt to blend-in with regular traffic or ditch and run. For almost 70 miles the police pursued Ms. Sharp at speeds reaching over 100 mph multiplying the danger to innocent bystanders by the number of police vehicles participating in the pursuit.

Jasper County (SC) Chief Deputy Roy Hughes:
won't chase suspects for more than a short time in traffic unless they know a serious crime has been committed."
"If they had just murdered someone, that's different. If it's just a traffic violation and it's too dangerous to pursue someone, we terminate the chase."
"The deputies who joined Tuesday's chase through Jasper County stayed 'at the back of the pack,' just in case others involved in the chase were involved in a crash in their jurisdiction"

The above statements by the Chief Deputy are self-contradictory. They don't pursue for traffic offenses and yet they pursue in this case. They don't pursue in traffic, except for a short time, and yet they pursue in traffic for a considerable time. The become a part of the "pack" pusuing Sharp where all modern pursuit policies generally restrict pursuits to 2 or 3 cars.

Georgia State Trooper Tisdale, who executed the PIT maneuver:
"The tapes show Sharp was weaving dangerously."
"Police had stopped traffic in the area where the crash happened.
Both statements are contradicted by the video.

James Phillips
August 29, 2004

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Story Links:
Put a rush on ending police chases  Atlanta Journal Constitution,  Atlanta, GA   8/25/04 (FREE subscription)
Video  WXIA Atlanta, GA.  8/23/04
Public debates patrol's decision  Savannah Morning News, Savannah, GA  8/23/04
Dangerous pursuits   Carolina Morning News,  Beaufort, SC  8/22/04
Controversy brewing over deadly police chase in Georgia  KATU Portland, OR   8/20/04
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