An innocent woman was tragically killed in a car crash in Fife Thursday after a suspect who was fleeing a police officer crashed into her, police say.
The crash reportedly occurred shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday on Pacific Highway. According to John Weymer, spokesman for the Puyallup Tribe, told reporters that a tribal officer looked up the license plate for a car he was driving behind and noticed that it had been reported stolen. He tried to pull the driver over, but the driver started to flee.
Weymer says the officer followed the suspect at “not a high rate of speed” and was keeping his distance. At one point, the officer was several blocks away when he watched the driver suddenly run a red light and t-boned another vehicle.
The woman inside the vehicle that was struck by the suspect in the stolen car was killed. There were four other vehicles involved in the collision, but it was unclear if anyone else was injured.
Legal Issues in Police Chase Crashes
Motor vehicle collisions occurring during a police pursuit can be difficult in certain cases, as it is important to determine if the police officer involved in the pursuit followed proper protocol and department procedures with regard to public safety.
Of course, the police will conduct their own investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thursday’s incident and work to determine if the officer involved handled the situation properly and safely. Also complicating matters is the fact that this appears to have involved the tribal police rather than municipal police.
Generally, officers are required to cease pursuit of a suspect in a vehicle if they have reason to believe that their pursuit will jeopardize the safety of the general public. In extreme cases, a department could potentially be held liable and be financially responsible for a victim’s damages if it were determined that violation of policy led to the collision.