Police review continues on high speed chase
Authorities on Friday said concerns about public safety were a constant factor officers considered the previous day during the high speed car chase across South Lake Tahoe.
“We cut off pursuits when other people are in danger,” said Lt. Tom Boswell, who supervises the California Highway Patrol’s South Shore substation. “That (cutting off the pursuit) was never our thought, because we didn’t see other people out there.”
Based on an initial review of the incident, Boswell said CHP officers’ role in the chase complied with department policy.
The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is conducting its own internal review of the incident, said Cmdr. Rich McGuffin.
A police officer’s decision to fire at the suspect’s vehicle after it sped past a road block on Tahoe Mountain Drive triggered a standard review of the incident.
The shot was fired shortly before the suspect crashed his car and ran away.
Several minutes earlier, the CHP took over the pursuit when the suspect, driving a stolen 1989 Ford Mustang, approached the “Y” Intersection within city limits.
By then, the suspect, later identified as Jeremy Nance, 19, of South Lake Tahoe, had distanced himself from a South Lake Tahoe police officer who tried to pull him over near the Upper Truckee River bridge.
At this time, McGuffin said police officers “held back.” They continued traveling towards the suspect, but not at high rates of speed or with their lights and sirens turned on after CHP took over.
Boswell said his officers would have slowed or terminated their pursuit had they believed the chase endangered other motorists or pedestrians.
However, the lack of vehicle or foot traffic in the area allowed the CHP units to continue following the Mustang onto Tahoe Mountain Drive as the vehicle, at times, exceeded 100 mph.
As a CHP officer followed the Mustang, McGuffin said police and other CHP officers attempted to establish a perimeter around the Tahoe Mountain neighborhood.
One police officer, whose name was withheld by police, parked his car across Tahoe Mountain Drive as a roadblock near Iron Mountain Road.
It was after the vehicle sped by this attempted road block that the officer fired once at the rear of the Mustang – missing the vehicle and driver.
South Lake Tahoe Police Department guidelines direct officers to use their weapons to defend against suspects threatening to cause death or serious bodily injury to the officer or civilians.
The confidential police review of Thursday’s incident is expected to take several days.
Officers began to speculate that Nance was their suspect only after he had been tracked into the woods near Echo View Estates known as Twin Peaks.
These suspicions were based on a report earlier in the day filed by Nance’s mother seeking a welfare check on her son.
The suspect’s identity, however, was not confirmed, until after he was captured.
Even then, authorities could only speculate on the suspect’s motivations for fleeing an accident and then officers’ attempts to pull him over.
McGuffin said concerns about the then unknown suspect’s threat to public safety, had he not been captured, was also a factor that officers considered during the entire pursuit.
“We knew he was a felon,” McGuffin said. “We knew he was highly motivated to escape, and we did not know if he was armed. We considered him a high risk.”
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