Fresno Deputy Joshua Lancaster, killed May 29th by a suspect fleeing police, would be alive if Sanger Police had notified other agencies of the pursuit. Our innocent 15-year-old daughter, Kristie Priano, would be alive too if Chico Police had notified our family of a pursuit in a residential area on January 22, 2002. (Sarcasm intended.)
Those of us who have had innocent family members killed in police pursuits understand the horrible pain of Lancaster?s family, and our prayers are with the family. Law enforcement has taken this death on a family level and are asking questions so this tragedy is not repeated.
Nationwide, one innocent bystander is killed each day. Advocates say this death toll figure is greatly under-reported. Permanent mental and physical injuries are not reported but are estimated in the thousands.
Kristie's death inspired State Senator Sam Aanestad to introduce Senate Bill 982 [the bill's number in 2003], which is called Kristie's Law. The senator aims to create practical legislation that will "actually save lives."
Jim Phillips, PursuitWatch.org, reflects on this recent tragedy in Fresno: Parents who have lost innocent loved ones to pursuits can only wish that the vigor with which law enforcement is examining this case was the same for a "civilian" death. It is trite to say "If the suspect would have stopped Lancaster would be alive today."
Officers are also asking:
"Why was the 90 mph pursuit continued when a CHP helicopter was overhead?"
"Was the life of Joshua Lancaster worth a stolen car (that is now totaled)?"
The real tragedy is that it took Lancaster's death to get officers to ask the questions many of us have asked, and continue to ask. Questions that go largely unanswered or are met with hostility by much of the law enforcement community.
Mark and Candy Priano
1828 Almendia Drive
Chico, CA 95926