27% of People Killed in Police Car Chases are Innocent Bystanders

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,642 people died as a result of police chases from 1982 to 2013. Researchers looked at 7,430 of those deaths in 2004 and found 1,994, or 27%, were innocent bystanders, according to Priceonomics. Eighty-seven percent of the innocent bystanders were in automobiles at the time of their deaths. Pedestrians made up 8.5% of the total, motorcyclists 4% and bicyclists less than 1%.


Alcohol was a factor in 62% of the crashes. In addition, 25% of the police officers killed in such crashes had blood-alcohol counts higher than allowed.


One of these innocent bystanders was Dillan Harris, a 13-month-old child who was fatally struck earlier this month near a Chicago bus stop by a man fleeing police.


The suspect, Antoine Watkins, who was wanted in connection with the death of a local rapper, led police on a 3.5-mile chase that included running four red lights and driving at speeds up to 70 mph in an area with a speed limit of 30 mph. Watkins lost control of his car, jumped a curb and struck the stroller Dillan was sitting in, dragging it and the infant into a vacant lot, according to the Chicago Tribune.


Harris’ mother is now suing the city for wrongful death.


Priceonomics reported that the number of deaths due to police chases is probably higher than the official figures because police departments voluntarily report the numbers.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

The Case for Banning High-Speed Police Chases (Priceonomics)

Mother Sues City, Police Officers and Driver in Death of 13-Month-Old (by Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune)


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