A Los Angeles Times analysis of statewide data shows that LAPD pursuits injure bystanders at more than twice the rate of police chases in the rest of California. From 2006 to 2014, 334 bystanders were injured — one for every 10 LAPD pursuits, according to The Times’ review of pursuit data reported to the California Highway Patrol.
Although fatalities remain rare, the analysis shows that LAPD pursuits are also more likely than chases in the rest of the state to result in a bystander’s death. Reyes-Salvador was one of nine people since 2006 to be killed in LAPD pursuits in which they were otherwise uninvolved.
LAPD officials say officers take measures to keep the public safe during chases and that many of the injuries are minor. Much of the blame, they argue, falls on the city’s sprawling web of multilane thoroughfares and highways, which they say allow suspects to move at greater speeds and make wild turns through traffic, greatly increasing the likelihood that someone may be hurt.
But experts who study police pursuits say the LAPD needs to do more to minimize dangers to bystanders. Unlike other departments, they say, the LAPD increases the risk of those injuries by allowing officers to chase motorists suspected of relatively minor offenses, including intoxicated or reckless driving, who are more likely to drive faster and erratically while trying to escape police.
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