High Speed Chase Ends in Death - Is The Officer Guilty of Murder?

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by George Costanza, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. George Costanza
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    George Costanza A Friendly Liberal

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    All right, folks - hang on. Here we go:

    In California (and many other states as well) someone who is responsible for the death of another person in an automobile accident, can be convicted of second degree murder. In order to be convicted of murder, malice must appear - but malice can be implied.

    If it appears that ". . . the defendant deliberately performed an act, the natural consequences of which are dangerous to life, knowing that the conduct endangers the life of another but acting with conscious disregard for that risk of life," malice may be implied, and the defendant can be convicted of second degree murder.

    Prosecutions for murder in auto accident cases usually involve a drunk driver as the defendant. If the defendant got really blitzed, got into his car, went on to the highway and killed someone, he/she can be convicted of murder if the the defendant knew or should have known what they were doing was life endangering and they still acted in conscious disregard for the safety of others on the highway.

    OK - all of this is pretty well established. But what about this situation?

    Officer Jones spots a red car rolling through a stop sign without making a full stop. He decides to ticket the driver. He flips on the reds. The driver does not pull over. In fact, he takes off. (The driver of the red car knows he has a warrant out for him for not paying a traffic ticket. He flees because he does not want to get arrested for the traffic warrant. There is no other reason for him to flee.)

    Officer Jones turns on the siren, calls dispatch and goes into pursuit. Seeing that the police car is pulling up on him, the red car driver gooses it, now pulling away from the police car. The chase is proceeding down Taylor Avenue. Five or six blocks away is Taylor Elementary School. The time is 3:00 p.m. Officer Jones is well aware of the location of Taylor Elementary School and the fact that school gets out at 3:00 p.m. In an effort to apprehend the red car driver, he increases his speed even more, but the red car has a hot engine, and pulls away once again. Four seconds later, the red car runs over two Taylor Elementary School children, killing them both.

    Officer Jones decided to go in pursuit of a motorist for running a stop sign. No other reason. He could have recorded the license plate number of the red car and gone by the guy's house later in the afternoon to arrest him there for evading. But he chose not to do that and to initiate a pursuit, thereby causing the red car driver to try to get away.

    As the chase approached Taylor Elementary School, Officer Jones could easily have terminated the chase, but he chose not to. In fact, he increased the tempo of the chase, causing the red car driver to speed even faster, killing the two children.

    I submit that Officer Jones deliberately performed an act, the natural consequences of which are dangerous to life, knowing that the conduct endangers the life of another but acting with conscious disregard for that risk of life, and that Officer Jones (along with the driver of the red car) should be prosecuted for second degree murder.
     
  2. Mad Scientist
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    Mad Scientist Deplorable Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Unless the PD where Officer Jones works has a regulation prohibiting high speed chases in certain areas, Officer Jones is in the clear. (With his department)
     
  3. CrusaderFrank
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    CrusaderFrank Diamond Member

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    Man killed in fall, is gravity guilty of murder?
     
  4. CrusaderFrank
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    CrusaderFrank Diamond Member

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    In the strip mall nearest to me, a young man was shot and killed while in his car apparently after trying to run over a police officer or two. One officer was on the hood of the car. Was the officer wrong to draw his weapon? Should he have let the kid run him over a few times before he acted?
     
  5. RadiomanATL
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    RadiomanATL Senior Member

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    No, but it sure sounds like the driver of the red car should be.
     
  6. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    The driver of the red car should be executed for terminal stupidity if nothing else.
     
  7. SFC Ollie
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    SFC Ollie Still Marching

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    The driver who was wrong in not pulling over is the sole cause of the deaths. The officer was doing his job. Had the driver obeyed the law and pulled over there would have been no chase.
     
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  8. George Costanza
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    George Costanza A Friendly Liberal

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    Focus on why the officer was chasing the guy. What had the guy done? Why was he running? Is this the type of case that is deserving of a high speed chase with the attendant risk of life to innocent civilians?
     
  9. RadiomanATL
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    RadiomanATL Senior Member

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    Bingo.
     
  10. SFC Ollie
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    SFC Ollie Still Marching

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    The officer has no clue why the guy would run. For all he knew there was a body in the trunk.
     

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