Stop in the Name of the Law

April 9, 2016

A Cottageville man was held in lieu of a $3 million bond following a fatal crash that occurred at the end of a police chase.

 

Charleston County Sheriff’s deputies believe that Ronald Andrews intentionally caused a non-injury car crash on Highway 78 near the Main Street intersection. Rather than yield to authorities, Mr. Andrews then fled east on Highway 17A towards Summerville. The chase ended at the intersection of 17A and Orangeburg Road, when Mr. Andrews collided with a pickup truck operated by 59-year-old Donald Ray Echols, of Ladson. Mr. Andrews, who was not injured in the crash, exited his vehicle and attempted to flee the scene on foot; he was apprehended a few blocks away by an off-duty sheriff’s supervisor.

 

Mr. Echols was transported to a local hospital, where he was subsequently declared dead.

 

High Speed Police Chase

 

One person dies every day in a high speed police chase. Very often, as in the above story, the victim is an innocent bystander. Although there is evidence that suspects stop running if the police break off their pursuit, reckless high speed chases are a very common occurrence. Although they will not admit it in a civil lawsuit, many officers enjoy the tremendous adrenaline rush that comes in these situations. There is a legitimate police interest as well, because officers are paid to enforce all laws at all times, not just on those occasions when the suspect is compliant.

 

All that being said, there should be limits on pursuing officers, and jurors are usually willing to impose those limits. In most cases, these boundaries come in the form of:

 

  • Extreme Recklessness: For those who may be unfamiliar with the area, there are several miles between Cottageville and Summerville. At some point, officers should have considered abandoning the chase, at least arguably, because the longer the pursuit lasts, the greater the chance of injury

 

  • Policy Violation: Many departments have standing policies about not pursuing fleeing suspects except in some situations. Moreover, and perhaps even better for plaintiffs, dispatchers often give instructions like “do not chase” or “pursue with caution.”

 

The government agency that employs the officers, whether it be a city, county, state, or federal government, is generally responsible for damages. As such, special rules may apply, due to the relevant tort claims act.

 

These damages include compensation for both economic losses, like hospital bills, and noneconomic losses, like emotional distress. Punitive damages are also available, in some cases.

 

Contact an Aggressive Lawyer

 

Reckless police chases endanger thousands of lives. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Charleston, contact David Aylor Law Offices. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.

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