DENVER (KDVR) — Questions have arisen about the Denver Police Department’s pursuit policy after officers chased and stopped a car on Interstate 225, causing a high-speed crash in rush hour traffic.
The suspect had been involved in a Denver shooting hours earlier at the Bass Pro Shops on Northfield Boulevard.
Dominique Hall and her family were stuck in traffic when the crash happened next to them near I-225 and Colfax Avenue.
“All of a sudden out of nowhere, we hear tires screeching and a loud bang. Then, we see the car go past us all. Shrapnel from both cars the police SUV and the suspect’s car was just everywhere,” said Hall, of Aurora.
They were so close that debris from the crash flew towards their car.
What is a PIT maneuver in police chases?
Investigators say DPD used a so-called “PIT maneuver,” or pursuit intervention technique, to stop the driver. Police use their vehicle to physically disable the suspect vehicle, forcing them to stop.
A group called Pursuit for Change said this chase and type of stop was not necessary, especially in rush-hour traffic.
“That person at that point was not causing anybody harm and wasn’t doing anything dangerous. The danger in that situation really did begin with the pursuit,” said Jonathan Farris, Pursuit for Change’s chief advocate.
The group advocates for safer police chases.
“Given that there were multiple vehicles involved in the crash that occurred at the time of the PIT, it probably shouldn’t have occurred at all,” Farris added.
Denver Police policy on PIT maneuvers
DPD policy shows PIT maneuvers are allowed. According to the policy, “To continue a chase, officers must balance the need for immediate apprehension of a suspect with the need to protect the public from danger caused by the pursuit.”
The Hall family says the danger on this day came way too close.
“I looked up and heard the debris coming toward the car, so I ducked my head down in case the windows were going to start breaking,” Dylan Hall of Aurora said.
Thankfully, the Hall family is OK. Now, like so many others, they are asking if this chase should have ever happened at all.