12/14/2005

Calif. police defend actions in fatal chase

Richard Winton, Times Staff Writer

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved 

Arcadia police on Monday defended their pursuit of a woman that ended when she crashed into another car, killing a 3-year-old boy inside.

Talmin Moye Jr. was taken off life support late Sunday, hours after he and his father were struck while heading to a pancake breakfast.

Authorities said they consider the boy's death a tragedy, but said it would have been irresponsible for the officers to have halted the pursuit because the woman was driving recklessly.

Police departments have been grappling with ways to make pursuits safer after several high-profile cases in which innocent bystanders were killed by accidents during chases.

The Los Angeles Police Department recently modified its policies to discourage chases for minor traffic infractions or when officials believe pursuits would endanger lives.

Arcadia police determine how a pursuit is managed on a case-by-case basis, said Lt. Ken Harper. But he stressed that the crash that killed Talmin occurred less than three minutes after police began the chase and before the department got a helicopter into the air that could have followed the suspect if the ground officers had halted their pursuit.

The incident began early Sunday morning when an Arcadia resident told police about a woman standing near an Acura sedan with the hood up on Singing Wood Drive. The resident provided a license plate number, and police discovered that the car had been reported stolen.

Officers went to the scene and found the car. The woman was inside. The woman raced off, and officers gave chase. They were joined by a sergeant in another police cruiser.

The driver, identified as Sarah Bravo, 26, of La Puente, drove a few blocks before hitting a passing car near Michillinda Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.

Police said she continued west on Colorado into Pasadena, ran a red light at the corner of Del Mar Avenue and Altadena Drive and hit a Honda driven by Talmin Moye Sr.

Moye, a Pasadena city employee, and his son were taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where the family made the decision to take the child off of life support late Sunday night, according to city officials.

Talmin Moye Sr. was treated for broken ribs.

Bravo, who was hospitalized with head injuries, was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Harper said Arcadia officers generally consider weather conditions, road conditions and the behavior of the suspect in deciding whether to continue a chase.

But in this case, it all happened too quickly, he said.

"It was over by the time it started," he said. 
 
December 13, 2005

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