Officers' actions in fatal chase reviewed

06:29 PM CDT on Tuesday, May 31, 2005
By REBECCA LOPEZ / WFAA-TV

(This story includes information about the Dallas Police Department's pursuit policy.)

Dallas police are allowed to pursue suspects for traffic violations and Class C misdemeanors, but other large departments - including Los Angeles - have banned chases unless officers are pursuing a felon.

Dallas Police officials are investigating the actions of officers involved in Monday's deadly high speed chase that left one person dead and several others injured.

The officers were chasing two drug suspects who turned the wrong way up Peak Street in Old East Dallas. The truck they were driving was hit broadside by a van; the vehicles hit and killed Braulio Morales, 60, who was walking along the street when the wreck occurred.

"We saw the truck coming the wrong way up the one-way street," witness Jason Ramsey said. "He was doing about 80 miles an hour and the cop was right behind."

Supervisors are working to determine if the officers followed proper procedure during the short chase. They are looking into why the chase began in the first place, and whether officers should have continued the pursuit.

According to the department's general orders, it is a violation for officers to pursue a violator the wrong way on any one-way street. Officers are also told to call off a chase if it puts the public in danger.

General orders said officers will immediately stop the pursuit when it becomes apparent that the violator will do whatever is necessary to evade the officer.

Said DPD Sgt. Gil Cerda, "The risks ... do they out weigh the risk of harming the public or placing the public at harm's risk?"

Dallas police are allowed to pursue suspects for traffic violations and Class C misdemeanors, but other large departments - including Los Angeles - have banned chases unless officers are pursuing a felon.

Police said it is never easy trying to determine when to chase the bad guys - or when to let them go.

Go to related story: The Dallas Morning News