For Immediate Release from
Voices Insisting on PursuitSAFETY
February 8, 2012
Jonathan Farris, Board Chairman
(612) 804-5868 (C)
Candy Priano, Executive Director
(530) 343-9754 (W)
Police chase did not save her life
Ridgeland, Mississippi—Milinda Clark, 36, of Flowood was doing what many of us do. She was returning to pick up her children at church.
At the same time, Ridgeland Police received a call about two shoplifters. The police response ultimately resulted in a chase with speeds reaching at least 90 mph. And, the consequence?
Milinda Clark was killed. Her two children will bury their mother. The lives of Milinda’s family and friends are forever changed. For some, their lives are forever shattered.
“I did not have the privilege of knowing Milinda,” says Candy Priano, executive director of Voices Insisting on PursuitSAFETY, a national nonprofit organization. “I do know that this is not the first time a police chase to apprehend shoplifters has killed an innocent person, a mother, a kind person.”
Priano is aware of other police pursuits to catch shoplifters that also resulted in the deaths of innocent bystanders. A Pennsylvania pursuit ended with the deaths of Jolene LaBar and her unborn baby. The suspect took a vacuum cleaner from a mall.
Margaret Branton and her son Lonnie Turner were killed instantly when a crash ended the chase for shoplifters in Georgia. In addition, Lonnie's wife was injured and their unborn baby died.
“There are more … many more,” Priano says. “Yet, one death—one death of an innocent person is one too many.”
On average, crashes due to drivers fleeing from the police kill someone every day. According to a 2004 Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center analysis of nine years of national statistics, "One third of these pursuit fatalities occur to innocent bystanders.”
Other studies by the FBI and recognized researchers in high-risk police activities concur with the Harborview analysis. According to an FBI report, “The lack of a mandatory reporting system hampers our government’s ability to track pursuit fatalities and results in the collection of as little as one-half of the actual data."
PursuitSAFETY.org recently undertook a huge database project to better understand police chase and police response crashes and deaths. When completed this database will contain the most current five years of information and will definitively show the extent of this problem.
PursuitSAFETY.org founded the Safer Way Award, which recognizes law enforcement agencies and officers who find other ways to apprehend suspects who are known flight risks. Everyone is welcome to submit a nominee by using the online nomination guidelines and form for the 2012 award at www.pursuitsafety.org/saferway.html.
The death of Milinda Clark warrants a comprehensive review of the Ridgeland Police pursuit policy. Limited policies, which do not allow police chases for property crimes can work, save lives, and prevent a repeat of these tragedies.
“These are the types of incidents about which PursuitSAFETY members and all Mississippi citizens should email or call their legislators,” says Jon Farris, Chairman of the organization. “We need to express our outrage and the legislators need to understand they have the power to implement changes to stop this unnecessary carnage.”
About Voices Insisting on PursuitSAFETY
PursuitSAFETY is the sole national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives of innocent bystanders and police officers as a result of police pursuit and response call crashes. Learn more at www.pursuitsafety.org.
Contacts for your story:
Candy Priano, founder and executive director of PursuitSAFETY, continues to work for a safer way so others will not have to endure the pain that she and thousands of others have suffered. A 2002 police chase through a residential neighborhood ended when a fleeing teenager, who officers knew had taken her mother's car without permission, slammed into Priano’s minivan right where her daughter Kristie, wearing her seatbelt, was sitting. It took seven days for Kristie to die, but only a few hours for the police to send the teen home with her mother. She was not even arrested. Later she would serve one year in juvenile hall. Kristie died from a massive closed-brain injury, a crushed brain stem, and extensive swelling that caused her brain to rupture. (530) 343-9754 (W) (530) 519-9754 (C) email@example.com
Jonathan Farris, board chairman for PursuitSAFETY, lost his son Paul in 2007. Paul, an innocent victim, died as a result of an unnecessary police chase in the Boston area. Jon is an advocate for changing police pursuit laws across the United States. (612) 804-5868 (C) firstname.lastname@example.org
David Ehrensperger, PursuitSAFETY board member, recalls how his son Steven was killed: “A 22-year-old officer driving at an excessive speed to a possible burglary struck Steven's car. The officer never made it to his destination and no burglary took place.” David is an advocate for changes that will stop unnecessary tragedies during police response calls. (205) 915-0360 (C) email@example.com