Former officer explains protocol for police pursuits

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Police have procedures to follow when engaging in a police pursuit with a suspect. NewsChannel 15 wanted to know what those protocols are after a fatal police chase near the Fort Wayne airport Wednesday evening.

Fort Wayne police were sent to the Southgate Shopping Plaza on an anonymous tip of a man, who would later be identified as Jermaine Walker, 40, of Fort Wayne, with outstanding warrants.

When police tried to pull him over, Walker took off and police started the pursuit. There was a passenger in the car, but police said Walker stopped and let the passenger out. The chase continued with officer eventually laying out spike strips near the intersection of Bluffton Road and Airport Expressway. Walker drove down Airport Expressway, eventually colliding with a driver in the northbound lane. Police had to use the “jaws of life” to get Walker out of his vehicle. He was sent to the hospital where he later died from his injuries.

“We certainly have all the necessary procedures and steps in place in a pursuit to help avoid those types of incidents,” said Michael Joyner, Fort Wayne police spokesperson.

NewsChannel 15 spoke with Dominic Lombardo, a former Los Angeles police officer and now assistant professor of criminal justice with Indiana Tech. Lombardo said he’s dealt with police chases often as an officer in LA. He explains that officers use their direction when starting and ending a police chase, a decision that’s not taken lightly.

“You have your adrenaline going, and it’s a thing where this guy is not going to get away from me, it’s a very difficult decision to terminate a pursuit,” Lombardo said.

Options to capture a suspect are reduced when an officer engages into a pursuit. One of the few ways officers have to end the chase is setting out spike strips to reduce the speed of the vehicle and eventually have the suspect stop. Lombardo said departments have procedures in place when they have to use the device.

“They’re going to put them in an area which is hopefully low traffic, they have to anticipate where the suspect is going, and go from there,” he said.

Joyner said Fort Wayne police followed the book when setting out the spike strips in Wednesday’s incident.

“It’s very unfortunate that he chose to take that path he did,” Joyner said. “Ultimately, it cost his life.”

Lombardo said fatal crashes after a pursuit are very rare. He and Joyner said if people get pulled over by the police, they should simply pull over.

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