In the aftermath of a vehicle collision yesterday, March 27, that left four injured and led to the arrest of a suspected drug dealer in the Montford neighborhood, several witnesses assert that police chased the suspect as he sped away, creating a dangerous situation.
The APD has asserted that officers chose not to pursue.
At 3:03 p.m. on March 27, undercover officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents were conducting a drug buy on Pearson Drive near West Chestnut Avenue, according to the APD’s press release.
“The suspect in this matter, 22-year-old Jerick Tyree Campbell, when confronted by the take-down officers, rammed a police vehicle and also struck a retaining wall [with his vehicle] in an attempt to get away,” the report reads. “Due to the reckless nature of the suspects driving, APD Officers did not give chase. As Officers were proceeding northbound on Montford Ave. to saturate the area, they observed that the suspect’s vehicle had collided with two pedestrian [Metropolitan Sewerage District] workers near Zillicoa Street, as the suspect had jumped from the moving car.”
Another worker, inside a backhoe, was also injured.
But Montford residents who witnessed the police activity contend that there was a chase, one they felt created a dangerous situation.
A man named “Jason,” who works on Montford Avenue but asked that his full name be withheld, says, “I saw the [suspect’s] car go by with the cops’ cars in hot pursuit. … My problem wasn’t so much what went on as the fact they say they didn’t pursue.”
Greg Little, who lives nearby, says, “It was really crazy, I felt like I was in a video game there were so many cops. … I heard a ‘thud’ and a car peel out, and then sirens galore. I watched all these cars go by.”
Attorney Ben Scales lives just down the street. When the incident occurred, he was standing in his home office, watching his children get off the school bus.
“The school bus had just pulled away when my wife heard the perpetrator’s car coming,” Scales says. “I heard her say an expletive and [I heard] sirens. I turned back and saw a train of cop cars going 90 to 100 mph. My 10-year-old was probably about 15 feet from the curb. She later said to me that she didn’t know cars could go that fast. My wife said to me ‘They’re chasing that guy.’”
According to all three witnesses, anywhere from 10 to 20 police vehicles were going 60 to 100 mph down Montford Avenue.
Scales and his wife went down to talk to a group of nearby APD officers soon after the incident. He claims they admitted they were following the suspect.
“I wanted to know what this guy had done. That set us off about the danger they’d caused,” Scales says. “If it had been 15 to 20 seconds earlier, there was no way those kids could have heard or seen the cars coming to avoid them, which is what scared all of us.”
Says Scales, “They’re not supposed to have a chase through a residential neighborhood.”
Since the incident, an APD detective has been going door-to-door asking the neighbors for their accounts, he notes. The State Highway Patrol is reconstructing the crash.
The APD has detailed rules on vehicle pursuits:
Vehicle pursuits create a risk of injury to the suspect, officer and third parties. A vehicle pursuit may be initiated when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect has committed, attempted to commit or is in the process of committing a violent felony, and an articulable threat to human life exists.
Stay tuned for updates as more information is released about the incident.
David Forbes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.