Blog of William C. McCaskill

High Speed Chase Ends In Fatal Crash

Posted on August 8, 2017

A 36-year-old motorcycle rider is dead after a high-speed chase ended in a high-speed crash on I-395.Virginia State Police clocked 36-year-old Clint Gaskins, of Woodbridge, at 80mph in a 55mph zone, and then signaled for him to pull over. Instead of complying, Mr. Gaskins sped away from the scene, and police gave chase at speeds exceeding 120mph. The pursuit continued even as Mr. Gaskins excited I-395 onto Interstate 10 and then onto Route 123. The motorcycle rider eventually lost control of his bike and slammed into a retaining wall.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police Chases

Way back in 1990, the Justice Department called high-speed pursuits “the most dangerous of all ordinary police activities” and urged departments to limit or eliminate these activities. Moreover, there has long been evidence that suspects will stop running if the police stop pursuing. Yet despite this clarion call and this evidence, many departments either have no policy at all in this area or leave discretion almost entirely up to the officers as to when to start or end pursuits.

On the record, police officers maintain that they cannot pick and choose when and where to enforce the laws and that wrongdoers must understand that all crimes always have consequences. Off the record, many officers will admit that they feel tremendous adrenaline rushes when they “get the bad guy,” and they will not give up that part of the job.
In the last few decades, high-speed police crashes have killed more than 5,000 innocent bystanders, a figure that dwarfs the number of bystanders killed in police shootings.

Liability Issues

Police officers have limited immunity in high-speed chases, if they are in emergency mode (siren on and/or lights flashing) during the pursuit. This immunity only applies if the officers demonstrated “due regard for the safety of persons and property.”

Typically, courts apply a balancing test that weighs the risk to public safety against the officer’s’ interest in apprehending offenders. If the suspect had a gun or posed another imminent danger, the chase is usually legally justifiable. However, if officers pursued a speeding suspect at speeds exceeding 120mph, the outcome may be different. Moreover, in the above story, the motorcyclist was going almost twice as fast after the police began, and refused to terminate, their pursuit.

New technologies, such as shootable GPS tracking devices, advanced tire entanglers, and high-power lasers that can temporarily disable cars, may tip the balancing scales toward victim/plaintiffs, as these innovations have arguably made police chases obsolete in all but the most extreme cases.

Reach Out to an Aggressive Attorney

Dangerous high-speed police chases have killed thousands of innocent people. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oxon Hill, contact The Law Office of William C. McCaskill, PLLC. Our main office is conveniently located near the Inner Beltway/Outer Beltway changeover.

Contact us to speak with a Oxon Hill lawyer about a personal injury matter