Houston PD calls for stronger penalties for suspects involved in pursuits
“We need our legislators and elected officials to revisit this and raise the penalties for this, because it is so dangerous,” a PD official said
By Sarah Roebuck
HOUSTON — The Houston Police Department is calling on lawmakers for harsher penalties for suspects involved in high-speed pursuits, Houston Public Media reports.
This comes after a 19-year-old bystander on a motorcycle was hit and killed during an early morning pursuit on Monday.
Houston police said officers saw two vehicles racing on an interstate reaching speeds over 100 mph. Officers called for air support and pursued the vehicles, which quickly became a high-speed pursuit.
The pursuit ended after one of the vehicles exited the highway, sped through a red light and struck a motorcyclist.
The 19-year-old motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.
“We have a complainant who won’t go home to his family because a suspect in a stolen vehicle refused to stop and ran again from police and ended up killing him at an intersection,” Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite said during a press conference.
A few months ago, Houston Police introduced new protocols aimed at curbing police pursuits following the death of a sergeant’s mother, who was killed by a vehicle attempting to evade capture in September. The updated rules stipulate that Houston Police are now prohibited from engaging in vehicle pursuits when the potential charges are restricted to Class C offenses, traffic-related offenses or nonviolent misdemeanor offenses.
Police Chief Troy Finner stated that officers would undergo training on innovative strategies aimed at terminating pursuits more swiftly.
“We do need stronger laws when it comes to fleeing from the police,” Satterwhite said. “We need our legislators and elected officials to revisit this and raise the penalties for this, because it is so dangerous. It is no different than firing a gun into a crowd or anything else.”
Satterwhite indicated that the suspect apprehended during Monday’s high-speed pursuit could face a charge of felony murder.