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Questions Raised After Pennsylvania Police Chase Kills Pregnant Woman

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Investigators are trying to determine whether a recent Pennsylvania police chase that killed four people – including a pregnant teen – was justified. It is often very difficult to determine whether police should initiate pursuits, and “pursuit policy” has been a subject of intense discussion over the past few years. When does the danger of a police chase make the pursuit inadvisable? When does the threat posed by a suspect become high enough to warrant a chase? What happens if innocent bystanders suffer injuries or deaths?

Theft Suspects Crash into Concrete Barrier Before Perishing in Fire 

In late April of 2024, the Associated Press reported that four people had died after a police pursuit in Concord. Police approached a vehicle with seven occupants and conducted a traffic stop, suspecting that the group had committed retail theft at a nearby shopping center. Although the driver initially stopped, all occupants suddenly jumped back in the car and drove away.

A pursuit then began down Route 322. Eventually, the driver attempted to pass another vehicle on the right shoulder and lost control. The vehicle then smashed into a concrete barrier and ignited, killing four of the seven occupants. Police exited their vehicles and attempted to extinguish the fire, but they could not save three adults and one pregnant teen. Two other adults and a second teen girl survived but suffered various injuries. Doctors reportedly attempted to save the unborn baby – but were unsuccessful.

Investigators Question Police Pursuit Policy in Pennsylvania 

A week after the incident, investigators started asking questions about the official pursuit policy of the State Police. According to a report by NBC News, the police did not actually have any evidence that the suspects had carried out the retail theft. Instead, reports indicate that the suspects were simply “acting suspiciously,” and that their vehicle had been illegally modified. According to the official police report, the reason for the initial traffic stop was “equipment violations.”

In Pennsylvania, State Police do not need to consider the underlying offense when initiating a pursuit. In other jurisdictions, police departments have policies that only allow pursuits if suspects are carrying out certain offenses (usually violent crimes or serious felonies). According to State Police policy in the Keystone State, they must pursue suspects as soon as they flee – even if they were stopped for something as simple as an illegally tinted window.

One has to wonder whether giving someone a ticket for a tinted window is worth endangering innocent bystanders and unborn children.

Find an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer in Pennsylvania 

If a police chase injured or killed someone you love, a wrongful death lawsuit may be possible. Although police may attempt to justify these pursuits, they may struggle to avoid liability when they violate their own written policies. To learn more about your legal options, consult a wrongful death lawyer in Scranton. Choose The Needle Law Firm today – and get started with an action plan.

Sources: 

ca.news.yahoo.com/4-die-fiery-crash-pennsylvania-180252770.html

nbcphiladelphia.com/investigations/deadly-delco-crash-raises-questions-on-the-pa-state-police-chase-policy/3848512/

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