Rethinking High-Speed Police Chases

Posted by Richard Lawson | Feb 01, 2016 | 4 Comments


Two respected and well-liked citizens of metro Atlanta were killed by a driver fleeing Johns Creek Police late Thursday evening. Kryzysztof Krawczynski and Elzbieta Gurtler-Krawczynska were killed when a car, driven by Larry Thomas, struck the couple's vehicle during a high-speed police chase.  Jesse Thomas (the driver's son) was also in the car and is charged as an accomplice. 

Larry and Jesse Thomas are 100% “legally” responsible and will be prosecuted and convicted for the deaths of the elderly couple. However, the senseless deaths of the two retired CDC researchers should once again bring attention to the needlessness of high-speed police chases.

That being said, from both a moral and practical point of view, why are police still engaging in these kinds of deadly chases?  The risk to the public far outweighs the need to catch even a dangerous criminal.  Furthermore, technology can and should resolve such problems.  The news media, for example, used helicopters to follow the fleeing car.  Streets can be closed, and metal spike strips can be put out to blow out a criminal's tires, if necessary. 

It is not fair to expect the police to be NASCAR drivers while out on patrol looking for crime suspects.  We should not be putting their lives at risk or causing them to have to live with guilt the rest of their lives of seriously injuring or killing someone. Instead, cell phone calls can be tracked through triangulation and GPS. Surely a driver fleeing from police will make a phone call shortly after any chase; then the police can safely make an arrest.  

Again, the police are not legally liable; however, they are principally responsible for the deaths of two innocent people. Although unscientific, the overwhelming opinion on the AJC website is that the chase was unnecessary.   The public seems to understand the safety of innocents needs to take precedence over catching any criminal suspect.  Most of the time those same suspects will later be apprehended through patient police work.  There was simply no reason for Kryzysztof Krawczynski and Elzbieta Gurtler-Krawczynska to die. 

I hope Larry and Jesse Thomas spend the next 30 years in jail (15 years for Vehicular Homicide for each victim) thinking about what they have done. I also hope our police think about the part they played as well.    

*** article note:  Jesse Thomas was charged as a party to the crime of 2 counts of felony vehicular homicide.  In Georgia, a party to a crime can be charged and convicted as if they are the principal offender, See O.C.G.A.  § 16-2-20.

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Sarah Illg Reply

Posted Feb 01, 2016 at 16:15:37

Since publishing this story, another police chase in Metro Atlanta ended in the death of a 76 year-old driver and a 12 year-old passenger. When will the police learn?

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Feb 01, 2016 at 17:29:33

According to the AJC, a third victim, age 6 was found thrown from the car. That makes 3 victims, including 2 children. Very sad.

Sarah Powers Reply

Posted Feb 04, 2016 at 17:27:22

As a citizen, what bothered me the most was that the chase resulted in three deaths and police had nothing to show for the mess they made. Police never found the suspect of the police chase that killed three people on Sunday. The suspect fled with serious injury, on foot, after the crash, but was never found.

The three victims were headed to church before being killed in the reckless speed chase that morning. Dorothy Smith Wright (76), Cameron Costner (12) and Layla Partridge (6). Three lives lost; all for what? Police recovering a stolen vehicle, likely covered by the owner’s car insurance.

That isn’t even the worst part; police left the body of 6 year-old Layla at the site of the accident for 12 hours before authorities found out there was even a third victim. The AJC was able to report the accident before her body was even discovered. AJC quoted the police chief stating: “we value life and we want to do what we can to protect it.” Actions speak louder than words, Chief Meadows.

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Feb 04, 2016 at 17:36:04

I agree Ms. Powers that actions speak much louder than words. These chases need to end.

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