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St. Petersburg, Florida

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Bob Carroll
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Hot Pursuit Deaths Become Hot Issue

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A few years ago I represented the survivors of a father and his married daughter who were killed when a police hot pursuit ended tragically with a violent head-on collision. It was clear in that case that the police had violated the internal Police Department policies against hot pursuits of non-violent subjects. Now, two more needless deaths have occurred in the Orlando area as a result of another hot pursuit in violation of internal policies of the Sheriff’s Office. The pursuit in Orlando lasted 29 minutes despite the fact that the subject was only accused of using a pickup truck without permission. The family of the two recent victims and a State Representative are calling for a state law formalizing a rational hot pursuit policy for the State of Florida.

A few years ago I represented the survivors of a father and his married daughter who were killed when a police hot pursuit ended tragically with a violent head-on collision. It was clear in that case that the police had violated the internal Police Department policies against hot pursuits of non-violent subjects. Now, two more needless deaths have occurred in the Orlando area as a result of another hot pursuit in violation of internal policies of the Sheriff. The pursuit in Orlando lasted 29 minutes despite the fact that the subject was only accused of using a pickup truck without permission. The family of the two recent victims and a State Representative are calling for a state law formalizing a rational hot pursuit policy for the State of Florida.

Excerpts from the news article in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel:

Family seeks new pursuit law

ORLANDO • The family of two half-siblings killed when a stolen pickup truck chased by deputies crashed into their vehicle called Friday for a change in state law governing police pursuits.

Their announcement at the intersection where Frantz Leandre and Carole Leandre were killed in May came a day after the Orange County Sheriff’s Department suspended five deputies for their involvement in the chase.

Several deputies in patrol cars and a helicopter pursued Jonathan Kornexl, accused of using his mother’s pickup truck without permission, for 29 minutes, even though he drove through lawns, ran traffic lights and committed at least 30 traffic violations, according to a Sheriff’s Professional Standards Division report. Investigators say he ran a red light and broadsided the Leandres’ car.

Sheriff’s policy calls for deputies to abandon a chase on cases such as car theft if the pursuit makes public streets too dangerous. The office had previously defended deputy efforts, saying they were merely following — not pursuing — the suspect.

State Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, said he would introduce legislation next session formalizing such a policy.

He said the bill would address “when do you pursue, when do you call off the pursuit, some accountability measures and how you reprimand or potentially punish law enforcement officers.”