Scoot: The death penalty can result from failure to comply with police

March 22, 2019 - 4:05 pm

What seems to have started as a routine traffic stop ended in a fiery crash that killed 3 people and injured 7 others. The tragedy unfolded Wednesday night when NOPD officers tried to stop a vehicle they suspected had been stolen. Rather than yield to the officers’ order to pull over and stop, the teen driving the vehicle sped away and shortly after crashed into the Unity-1 Beauty Supply and Salon in the Broadmoor area of New Orleans and burst into flames killing the 2 teens in the car and injuring others as the beauty supply and salon business burned. A third person has subsequently passed away.

NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson told reporters that the police officers disengaged the chase following the department’s protocol of not engaging in a high-speed chase when public safety is threatened.

Since the first meeting with reporters, Chief Ferguson has announced that additional information on what happened that night warrants an investigation into whether the officers violated department protocol for chase situations.

Did the NOPD officers disengage and not pursue the vehicle they attempted to stop? Or, did their emotions inspire them to pursue and catch the individuals in the vehicle that dare to defy their order to pull over?

At this point we don’t know what happened, but that has not stopped the launching of allegations against the police. The quickness to judge police officers guilty is unfair, but it is the result of the tradition of police officers covering up department violations and even criminal behavior on the part of other officers.

I believe times have changed and law enforcement agencies are becoming much more transparent, but it will take time to bring back the faithful trust communities once had for all police officers.

Since 2 teenagers, described by neighbors as good kids who went to school and didn’t get into trouble, died when the vehicle they were in burst into flames upon crashing into a building, it is not easy to raise the issue of compliance. It is fair, however, to speculate that if the teens in the vehicle that NOPD officers believed was stolen, had simply followed their order to pull over, stop and allow the police to do their job, they would both be alive today.

But speculating is no longer an easy exercise. Many citizens have a fear for the police that is greater than their fear of the consequences for a crime they may have committed. Fleeing is seen as the better option to complying. Yet, the consequences that result from fleeing are usually greater than the act of compliance.

Fear of complying with police is real and, in many cases, understandable. In a worst case scenario, if the teens were in a stolen vehicle, the consequence for that is not the death penalty, which is the penalty they got for not complying.

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