There are times when police must pursue criminals in high-speed chases as a matter of law. Many jurisdictions have policies regarding just how and when police are allowed to engage in such a pursuit. Florida is no exception, though the policies vary between jurisdictions within the state. Miami Beach police can engage in a pursuit like this if they have reasonable cause to believe that a violent felony has been committed. All other pursuits are prohibited. Their guidelines also state that the decision to engage in such a pursuit is tantamount to deciding to use deadly force.
The Miami Herald reports on a Miami Beach cop who crashed into a bystander’s vehicle, killing her, while in pursuit of another vehicle.
The incident began around 11 p.m. on Monday night after a report of a stolen BMW. Around 11:50 p.m., an officer spotted the stolen vehicle, which had been taken while the owner was in a store and decided to pursue the vehicle. Another officer spotted the stolen BMW on 76th Street and gave chase. Two blocks later, that officer struck the vehicle being driven by 68-year-old Ivonne Reyes. Both Reyes and the officer were taken to the hospital, but Reyes succumbed to her injuries. The officer is in stable condition with head and chest injuries.
The chase and the accident are under investigation. Part of the investigation will be whether the officer, who wasn’t named, was acting within department guidelines during the chase.