Policy vacuum in pursuit of pedestrians
From September 1997 to June 15, 1999, there were, to this author’s knowledge, at least 17 incidents (and potential lawsuits against police departments) involving injuries suffered by a pedestrian struck by a police vehicle during a pursuit. One can assume that pedestrian, in this case, means suspected lawbreaker, since it would be improper to pursue a non-suspect without cause. The results of these police vehicular pursuits of pedestrians (PVPOP), which occurred in 14 different states, were serious and permanent injuries, including blindness, paralysis, loss of limbs, brain damage and, in some cases, death. With such devastating consequences, it is appropriate — indeed, urgent — that the issue of police liability and attendant issues of policy, training, supervision, discipline, civil rights, deliberate indifference, negligence and more, should be advanced for scrutiny and a meaningful response by law enforcement policy-makers.
In a situation where a pedestrian with a firearm “draws down” on an oncoming police car, the police officer, under the right circumstances, would be justified in using his vehicle as a deadly weapon and intentionally striking the pedestrian suspect/shooter. But consider those cases in which the suspect is not known to have a weapon and is running from the police for, say, “underage drinking” or “contempt of cop,” and is then struck by the police car — either falling under the car or being struck when the officer deliberately hits the suspect as an intervention. These situations clearly raise the policy and procedure issues of PVPOP and related police vehicular operations, such as cut-offs, barriers and roadblocks...