Here's the background: 15-year-old Kristia Priano was on the way to a basketball game at her school.
She was in the family van with her parents and her brother.
Another 15-year-old girl had just stolen her mother's car across town and was out for a joyride. But for some reason, the girl suddenly floored it and smashed into the Priano's van at an intersection.Here's what Kristie's mom, Candy Priano, told me she remembers about the moment right after the accident: "She always was so talkative.It would be nice to be able to show these idiots what they had done and how it affected others.Unfortunately, chases are necessary in order to "protect" many innocent people.It is ultimately the decision of a person to run from law enforcement that causes these difficult situations and is most responsible for the outcome. Because are they asking if we should let people just run from the police and get off scott-free. I have nothing but sympathy for the family, but that other girl was breaking the law and the police were just trying to catch her. Here's the question the Priano's have been asking for 4 years: If the suspect in this case was not a murderer, not even a dangerous felon, why were police chasing her?
She was a high school student who took the family car out for a joyride. Who knows what was going on through this kid's head?
I have been involved in chases caused by something as pedestrian as a teenager hoping to avoid a ticket to a prison escapee who was on his third stolen car in as many days, and in that time had committed three burglaries and been involved in chases with two other law enforcement agencies.
My agency encourages officers to call off a chase if a suspect's driving is posing a danger to others, especially if we could probably identify the driver, which often isn't the case.
She was a high school student who took the family car out for a joyride. "Yes, because it fits the policy, because it's more than just a vehicle infraction," says Chico Police Chief Bruce Hagerty, who wasn't with the department at the time of the accident.
"The trouble with pursuits is there is always a possibility that even if the officers do everything 100 percent the way they are trained to do that the pursuit will still end in a tragedy."Hundreds of innocent people like Kristie Priano die each year as a result of police chases.
I believe the best policy on this is keep allowing pursuits, but to encourage officers to call off a chase if the driver can be identified without stopping them (we can always get an arrest warrant and catch them later) or if the chase becomes dangerous.