Hot pursuit: Dashcam video fuels Rugby Road chase debate

news-scalphousechaseAcross from Bayly Drive on Rugby Road, an alert motorist steers away from the chase.

There has been an arrest in the infamous case of a chase that resulted in a stolen car going around 85mph on Rugby Road and causing over $100,000 in damage by scalping an occupied house. About two months after the August 7 incident, which captured widespread attention after the car's driver somehow disappeared from a seemingly fatal wreck, a 17-year-old city student was arrested in mid-October, according to Charlottesville spokesperson Ric Barrick, who–- in response to a reporter's request–- released a tape of the chase, a 112-second video in which even the police car hits 85mph on the residential road.

The video has touched off a whole new controversy because the chase appears to have violated a policy and, contrary to an initial media report, didn't appear to have been called off. And the pursuing officer, according to the police chief, wasn't even aware that he was chasing a stolen car.

"It was just senseless," says former Charlottesville Deputy Sheriff Steven W. Shifflett. "No car is worth a human life."

Informed that the officer wasn't aware he was chasing a stolen car, Shifflett revises his position.

"That's even worse," says Shifflett. "If a car had been coming through that intersection where the suspect crashed, he would have broadsided it and most likely killed one, two, three, four–- everyone in the car."

Noting, however, that the incident occurred late at night in the summer when UVA wasn't in session, the police chief defends the officer's actions. Yet controversy rages over the question of whether police pursuits, which routinely put innocent citizens at risk, should ever occur in such a populated place as Charlottesville.

cover-hotpursuit-newsplexThe climax of the August 7 incident drew coverage from both local tv stations and the Progress, which reported, in a non-bylined article, that "the chase ended when the officer felt the car was going too fast to be safe for the public."

New guardrail
Friday, October 30, was the day that a work crew installed a new, larger guardrail to cover the spot where the notorious vehicle left the roadway. The longer, triple-ribbed band of steel is designed to prevent such future dangerous aerobatics, but during the installation, the crew cut an underground gas line, causing a road detour lasting much of the morning.

Meanwhile, that same Friday was move-back day for Russell Skinner, an architect, and his wife, Nura Yingling, an English teacher and Tandem School administrator. They're the couple who lost their garage, their roof, and nearly their lives.

"My pregnant daughter could have been here," says Yingling. "That's the kind of thing that keeps you up at night."

The Russell-Yingling house occupies a unique piece of local terrain. Hidden from the road by dense foliage and built into a steep hillside, its roof lies at roughly the same level as the street. Hence the scalping.

State law doesn't forbid police pursuits, nor does it require officers to obey traffic signals when the chase is on; but it does require any pursuing officer to activate lights and sirens, both of which are evident in the Rugby Road video, now posted on YouTube.

Yingling says she was initially told that the chase was curtailed. However, the video shows the police cruiser hitting 74mph at Beta Bridge, 75 at University Circle, and 77 as the officer passes a 25mph speed limit sign on his way to a top speed of 85 near the intersection where the pursuee went airborne.

A Year 2000 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that police pursuits kill over 100 innocent bystanders every year. In August, a California couple lost all five of their children when a stolen car pursued by police rammed the family pickup truck on its way to a Pee Wee football carnival.

That same month and closer to home, Petersburg police became the target of two lawsuits after a teenage motorist died and another was maimed in a pair of 2008 pursuits at speeds that might have been lower than what happened on Rugby Road.

charlottesville-police-pursuits-policy-1In Charlottesville: "All police vehicles, even when operating in emergency mode, shall not proceed through any steady or flashing red signal, traffic light, stop sign, or other device indicating that moving traffic must stop, without first stopping and checking traffic in all directions."

"A lot of people don't realize how important this issue is until a member of their family is a victim of the police insistence on pursuit," says Charles Cuthbert, the lawyer handling both of the Petersburg cases, which seek a total of $15.7 million in damages.

In 2006, James H. Sears, an off-duty Colonial Heights police lieutenant, was coming home from a gym workout when he was struck head-on by a police car that ran a stop light and hit speeds up to 110mph (in pursuit of Albemarle resident Douglas Michael "Beefy" Brown, now imprisoned in the Buckingham Correctional Center until the year 2050). Sears' widow and three children won a $2.35 million settlement from the pursuing agency, the Chesterfield County police.

No one living in Madison County in the early 1990s can forget the graphic horror after a speeding police vehicle, allegedly without its warning lights on, cut another vehicle in half on Route 29 in front of Madison County High School and killed the father and son riding inside.

Lawyer Cuthbert says that he contacted various Virginia localities to examine their policies for conducting a chase. "The only pattern," says Cuthbert, "was that there was no pattern."

The Charlottesville policy gives the officer latitude to determine whether the pursuit justifies the risk.

"The initial decision to engage in or abandon a pursuit lies with the individual officer," reads part of the policy. Another part, however, forbids officers from running red lights or stop signs "without first stopping and checking traffic in all directions."

In Albemarle: "Officers responding to property crime calls, whether in progress or just occurred, shall be limited to driving no more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit," reads County policy.

Early in the video, both the officer and the fleeing driver appear to run a red light at the corner of University and Rugby.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo, addressing the case in a letter accompanied by a copy of CPD pursuit policy, conceded that the chase raised a pair of concerns–- particularly the speed. He also conceded that the officer wasn't aware that he was chasing anything other than a traffic violator.

However, Longo emphasized the dry pavement, the fact that UVA was out for the summer, and that the near-2:30am timing meant an absence of pedestrians.

"I find the officer’s actions to have been reasonable based on the totality of the circumstance," Longo wrote. "Had this occurred at 2:30 in the afternoon when traffic conditions were different, I may not have come to the same conclusion."

Yingling however, who serves as the director of Tandem's upper school, considers this chase something of a teaching moment for her students. She finds the pursuit, conducted by Officer Jeremy Carper, unsafe.

"If he's been an officer for more than a few days," says Yingling, "he knows there's a house at the end of the hill."

Carper, through his chief, declined to speak with a reporter about his 60-miles-per-hour-above-the posted limit chase. But his chief, alleging that bystanders "may have well been harmed had the officer done nothing," doesn't seem to accept the notion that chases create their own danger.

In Albemarle, even with population density 31 times lower than Charlottesville's, the County's pursuit policy, more restrictive than Longo's, seems to forbid what happened in Charlottesville.

bizarrewreck-b-tarpedroofNo roof meant a week at the Omni and nearly three months at Stone Creek Village for the couple.
bizarrewreck-c-neighbor"That's a yaw mark," says neighbor Lucky Stone.

"Officers responding to property crime calls whether in progress or just occurred, shall be limited to driving no more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit," reads County policy.

"We were never permitted to chase misdemeanor offenders," points out Barbara Jones, police spokesperson in Orlando, Florida, where rules regarding police chases are among the strictest in the nation.

On Rugby Road at 2:26am, the offense radioed to headquarters was a failure to yield, a misdemeanor.

It began on Highland Avenue
The escapade began around 11:30pm August 6 when a perpetrator allegedly burgled a home in the 700 block of Highland Avenue in the Johnson Village neighborhood. The homeowner slept through the incident, unaware that an interloper was traipsing through his home and swiping the keys to his car, says the City's Barrick.

On the video, shot about three hours later, an alert Officer Carper spots a vehicle speeding east on University Avenue– 42 miles per hour according to the police chief. Carper (who'd been traveling 36mph in the 25 zone when he passes the perpetrator) makes a quick U-turn, and follows the car up Carr's Hill near the UVA Rotunda, accelerating to 55 mph.

The two vehicles blow through the red light and zoom past "Mad Bowl." Although the lone bystander vehicle traveling their way on Rugby pulls over to let them pass, both cars cross the center line, as the chase quickly exceeds 70 mph and proceeds through the heart of fraternities, sororities, and other off-campus student housing along Rugby. Curiously, not a single pedestrian is spotted in the video, despite the fact that final exams for UVA's summer school had wrapped just a few hours earlier and bars closed 26 minutes before the chase.

bizarrewreck-d-nearbyyardCrews had to cut trees and drag the mangled Ford Five Hundred out through a neighbor's yard.
bizarrewreck-e-policetapeThe intersection gets 21,000 vehicles a day, according to VDOT. (That's an average of one every four seconds.)

Just after the green light at Grady Avenue, a pair of rightward bends in the road bring the pursuit past the Unitarian church, where Rugby shifts to upscale single-family dwellings. There, the police vehicle hits speeds of 64 to 85 miles per hour, as shown in the video.

At 75mph, the officer passes a taxi traveling in the opposite direction. At 77, he passes one of those radar-equipped "Your speed: ______" signs near tranquil Winston Road, but the flashing display is illegible on the video. What is legible are three 25mph speed limit signs along the way.

Up ahead lies the Rugby Road-Preston Avenue T-intersection, which carries 21,000 cars each day, according to a state report. That's 15 cars, on average, for every minute of the day, one car every four seconds. It's one of the busiest intersections in town.

Mercifully, there are no cars in sight as the stoplight, apparently red in the video, looms. And then the pursued car disappears.

Making sense of it
The August 7 wreck perplexed many. But neighbor Lucky Stone, awakened by what he first thought was thunder, believed he figured it out by daybreak. In a same-day interview, he pieced together what might have happened after the silver Ford Five Hundred sedan narrowly missed the existing guardrail, took out a pedestrian signal, and broke a curb-like concrete barrier.

“He smashed into the roof of the garage, and I guess that gave him some lift,” said Stone. “And then he smashed into the roof of the house, which I guess gave him a little more lift. He wound up upside down with the air-bag deployed.”

Pointing to a black stripe on the pavement spanning the breadth of the roadway, Stone said the perpetrator probably never applied brakes–- that he tried to negotiate a right turn at a speed that the laws of physics simply wouldn't allow.

cover-hotpursuit-themap-onlineThe mile-long journey occurred at 2:26am on August 7.

“That’s a yaw mark,” explained Stone, pointing to the stripe.

“I thought a plane had crashed into my house,” said Russell Skinner, interviewed later that day. “There was debris everywhere, and I could look up and see the moon, so I thought it was either a plane–- or a meteor.”

Skinner says he and his wife were sleeping just 10 feet from the impact zone but that neither were injured. He didn't think he could say the same of the driver, whose landing occurred about 100 yards from the road.

Skinner and his wife were promptly ensconced downtown at the Omni hotel by their insurance company because the ripped-open house was declared unfit for living by the City.

Skinner noted that another car plunged through his property just two months earlier and wound up next door in Stone’s yard. Stone says police quickly found that fleeing driver but were initially stumped by this one–- who seemed to have disappeared without a trace.

Given the severity of the wreck and the magnitude of the trajectory, Stone says police were particularly surprised not to find any signs of a driver. Although tree limbs 15 to 20 feet above ground were broken, there was no body dangling from a tree. Infrared devices and dogs failed to locate anyone, dead or alive.

Shortly before dawn, officials turned the mangled car right-side up.

“I’ve seen people walk from horrendous wrecks,” says Stone, “but I was half expecting when they flipped the car over that they’d find his body in there.”

The car was empty.

Not only that, but Stone says there was no blood. Still, police were on the lookout for someone badly bruised, or worse.

The Hook has learned the 17-year-old arrested in mid-October is (or was, at least until his arrest) a junior at Charlottesville High School who played for the football team, Tsaye Simpson. A City schools spokesperson would confirm only that he was enrolled at CHS through October 14.

cover-hotpursuit-homeowners-backdeckNura Yingling and Russell Skinner, who got their house back October 30, on their back deck. The car landed just in front of the grassy expanse in the background.

A source says a late-October hearing resulted in the decision to try him as an adult in Charlottesville Circuit Court, where the Hook has petitioned for the records to be unsealed. The source says Simpson was released from custody to a parent after his arrest. Attempts to reach the Simpsons were unsuccessful.

No details on the teen will be released, according to Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman. However, Chapman confirms that the case has been transferred to Circuit Court and slated for the December 21 docket call.

Homeowner Skinner says that he has been told that, as the absence of blood at the scene suggested, the driver was completely uninjured despite hurtling through the air at a height estimated as much as 50 feet above the steeply-sloping land.

"Lucky, lucky, kid," says Skinner, theorizing that, after the car shattered his garage and scalped his roof, the next thing broken by the death-defying sedan was a tree that cushioned the car's return to earth.

'Grace of God'
"By the grace of God no one was injured." So says the chief of police in Charlottesville. Other localities, however, have decided to put their faith in stricter pursuit policies.

Despite fears that crime would explode, Orlando and Orange County, Florida, went ahead in 2004 with what may be the nation's most restrictive ones. They limit pursuits to those involving people suspected of violent crimes.

John Phillips remembers all too well what spurred the policy.

cover-then-and-nowThe car barely missed the existing guardrail and took out the pedestrian signal pole at right (which was replaced the same day). The new guardrail installed three months later is longer and stronger.

In 2001, when he was 18 years old, his older sister was a college sophomore preparing to enter a nursing program. Sarah Phillips went out one night with three friends to a movie. After dropping off her friends, she unknowingly found herself on the same road as a police pursuit.

"I was in high school and worried about high school things," recalls Phillips. "I went to bed one night and woke up, and life was completely different."

Sarah Phillips was driving a Ford Escort when a fleeing suspect rear-ended it at 70 miles per hour. She died a the scene.

"She was just a bystander," says her brother, now 25.

When the details started emerging, the Phillips family coupled its sadness with anger and launched a lawsuit against Orange County. Part of the settlement was a review of the pursuit policy. Today, John Phillips runs PursuitWatch, the organization his late father founded to call for, among other things, better reporting.

There is no national requirement for reporting police pursuits. What little data exists comes from reports voluntarily submitted by myriad state and local law enforcement bodies. For instance, the latest data for chases conducted by the Virginia State Police is dated 2006–- and compiled only after a request from a Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter.

That year, says spokesperson Corinne Geller, the State Police conducted 350 pursuits, and 89 of them resulted in accidents. That's a 25 percent accident rate, but Geller downplays what might appear a chilling statistic.

"It could be anything the car suffered," she says, "such as a scratch."

Sometimes it's far more than a scratch. Data from FARS, the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, found that there were 40 chase-related fatalities in Virginia from 2006 to 2008: 25 pursuees, one police officer, and 14 people like Sarah Phillips, who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Not everyone is as lucky as Russell Skinner and Nura Yingling," says Candy Priano. "A 59-year-old electrician in a brick house on Long Island was killed in his living room."

Priano directs an organization called PursuitSafety, founded two years ago on behalf of innocent bystanders. Trying to refute some of the alleged myths about pursuits, the group remains particularly skeptical about the allegation that crime will rise if police don't pursue.

"Chasing is not a deterrent," says Priano. "It has neither lessened crime nor stopped the fleeing."

Chief Longo: "I find the officer’s actions to have been reasonable based on the totality of the circumstance. Others may have well been harmed had the officer done nothing."

There's little or no scholarship on this specific point. However, journalist and former patrol officer Thomas Lewis, in a 2008 article, likened any quest to ban pursuits as the equivalent of banning medication due to the small percentage of drugs that backfire.

"Criminals have intervened in our lives enough without allowing them the right to escape justice," wrote Lewis. "[Without pursuits], the criminal will win because he will be less likely to get caught after robbing our homes, driving while intoxicated, or whatever criminal activities he decides to be involved in."

Priano agrees there are many justified pursuits (such as chasing a murderer), and she supports mandatory jail time for everyone who attempts to elude capture. That's why she notes an irony about what happened in Charlottesville–- that after a nearly fatal pursuit, the suspect has been deemed harmless enough to be released from custody.

She also notes that since the 17-year-old's arrest took place more than two months after the incident, neither the public–- and certainly not the owner of the car that suddenly went from stolen to totaled on Rugby Road–- received much benefit from the chase.

City spokesperson Barrick wasn't able by presstime to put a complete dollar figure on the City's cost for repairing the curb and replacing the guardrail and signal pole. Homeowner Skinner says that the total tab for putting his house back together was nearly $110,000. But property damage is the least of Priano's concern.

"A human life is not replaceable," says Priano. "It just doesn't make any sense to chase for a stolen car."

So what should police do when someone won't stop?

When it's a property crime, the rules are clear around Orlando. The officer must turn off flashing lights, halt the siren, and then turn around. They have helicopters, spike strips, and other methods.

Priano says that some departments have successfully used "auto trap" to rein in those who flee: An officer calls in a description, and unmarked units quietly stalk and surround the driver.

PursuitSafety says that 40 percent of all pursuits result in collisions, and about three innocent bystanders are killed every week. That's triple the government's death toll, but Priano says the government undercounts.

For instance, she says, chased-and-killed DUI suspects are logged as DUI fatalities, and people who die hours or days after the crash are excluded. And, she notes, babies and young children who die in a fleeing car get cruelly categorized as "occupants of fleeing vehicle."

Why chase?
Virginia State Police spokesperson Geller says troopers receive six months of training, part of it in an effort to chase wisely.

"There's a lot of factors they're weighing," says Geller. "Why is the person running and refusing to stop? What is the intent? If we did not seek out the purpose," says Geller, "who knows who we'd be letting get away?"

The troopers "quite often" cease a pursuit, says Geller. "Safety is the ultimate objective."

And Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney Chapman vows to strike a blow for safety in prosecuting those who take flight.

"The behavior of eluding police is rampant," says Chapman, "and it's extremely dangerous. Anything can happen, and the consequences can be the highest degree of tragedy."

Parts of this story originally appeared in stories published online August 7 and October 30.


Yo I just want to say that that cop can drive his u know what off. I can drive I mean I can really drive, fast. But 85 on Rugby? G dam son thats haulin!

quote: "I don’t know what ââ?¬Å?cop shoppe” means either, and apparently there are several of us on here that are similarly in the dark ââ?¬â? so I don’t think it a stupid question. So, GSOE, enlighten us, por favor? (That is, of course, unless you’d rather berate me as well.)"

I think you're just pulling my leg. :)

But, just in case there's a slim chaance you aren't....

cop shoppe = police department.

Isn't it funny how were all jumping on the cop's and forgeting the idiot kid that caused this?
I mean the kid could have had a firearm or been on drugs and what else. the cop did not know and was doing his job.
Man, give the police a break they are doing their job and all you liberal cvillians want to do is complain about them.
Yet I bet you'd be complaining if that kid had got away and shot up some place.
The same people complaining about this chase would be saying, "That rookie should have followed him, he could have prevented this and that!"
Give the po po a break I am sure that police man did not think he was gonna kill somebody that night, he was doing his JOB!

I wonder how you folks would feel if a cop didn't chase somebody who ran and it turned out later that it was a missing girl who was kidnapped from a concert hall in the trunk.

I think what bothers me most is the lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing of any sort by this department. Whenever they are involved in a controversy, you know the answer will be the same--we investigated and the police acted completely appropriately--now leave us alone. Wait until one of these guys improperly uses a taser to kill someone(at least for now---until tasers are banned as the lethal weapons they are)--no matter what the circumstance--Charlottesville cops are in the clear.

Liability or not--this is not how well run police departments handle their communications. There are ways to mitigate liability and still be forthcoming. In some cases, the police SHOULD be exposed to liability for their actions--if those actions do not follow their own policy or recklessly endanger citizens--but that is for the courts to decide. This is not a close call--85 mph chases in a student/residential area without a sense that you have a violent criminal/fugitive is not worth the risk.

Failure to acknowledge ANY hint of wrongdoing or clarification of policy means a loss of credibility in the Chief's statements. After a few of these, you start to lose faith in the leadership of the department and their ability to use sound judgement.

I REALLY want to be able to believe them and support the department---but instances like this make it tough to respect the leadership of our local police department. Maybe it is time for City Council to do a thorough review to see if we are being well served--the citizens here deserve that.

the problem is that public perception becomes the reality.

So if the Police want to have the full suppot of the public then they need to start by being open and honest. In the last couple of years everytime there has been a problem the first thing out of chief longs mouth is "my child would never do that"

The problem is his "children" do screw up.. not by making mistakes.. we can accept that none of us our perfect.. but by trying to cover it up or deny it...

Perhaps it is time for the Hook to do an in depth interview and ask him directly why he seems to jump to denial only to be proven wrong again and again instead of gathering the facts and explaining his postion.

This should be a job for the city council but they are too busy apologising and watering the green roofs.

daren, nobody in city government cares.

I had a former sheriff stand on the front porch of the Circuit Court and ask me to lie to the city manager. (After what I consider to be an invasion of privacy and borderline illegal search, the audio tape of this discussion was, and still is,locked away in a safe deposit box in a fictitious name)

City Council didn't care. The city manager didn't care. Do you think they wanted this discussion and manipulation of the city manager exposed to the public?

You're barking up the wrong tree if you think any branch of city government is going to expose lies and decpetion in the cop shoppe to the public.

I see we have another fine example of a "Public School System" product.

When have the Charlottesville Police EVER admitted one of their officers did something wrong? This was a ridiculous breach of public safety that should be addressed and used as a moment to evaluate and train staff. Instead, the Police Chief is making nonsense statements about how this pursuit of a stolen car was worth risking lives. Senseless. The City Council needs to intervene here. After one of their officers, with tunes cranking, hit a pedestrian and blamed the pedestrian---you would think there would be some change in the level of arrogance--evidently not. Again the police department spreads a false story until they are embarrassed by the facts into having to come up with a ridiculous assertion that the conduct was acceptable. Time for new leadership here--clearly the current leadership is not up to the job.

And thanks to the Hook for allowing comments on this thread--one of the recent stories on this issue was closed to comments.

I would argue in this case that the police and department SHOULD be exposed to some civil liability(for a court to determine, ultimately--if anyone sues) and their statements can be respectful of potential liability while avoiding outright lying or using misleading language, which suggests malfeasance that could further a liability case. One should not protect conduct that is detrimental to public safety--civil liability or not.

One critically important aspect of the Chief of Police's job is to maintain trust with the community and credibility in his statements. If he is perceived as blindly sanctioning any activity taken by his officers--he risks losing credibility in the community(some would say this has already happened)--a far bigger problem than civil liability in a case without death or bodily injury.

Charlottesville was very lucky in the above pursuit.

Others aren't so lucky:


AUGUST 9, 2009 ââ?¬â?? Eight people died, including five siblings, when a compact car ran a stop sign while being pursued by police and crashed into a pickup truck in Dinuba, authorities said. Five children in the pickup were killed when they were thrown from the vehicle upon impact, according to the California Highway Patrol. Three adults in the Dodge Neon that was being chased by Dinuba police also died, authorities said. The collision occurred shortly before 2 p.m. at the intersection of Avenue 424 and Road 120. Dinuba police had attempted to pull the car over for a simple traffic violation, but instead the driver sped off and collided with the GMC Sierra after running a stop sign, the CHP said. Both vehicles came to rest in an orchard. A fifth child and an adult in the pickup were airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno with moderate to major injuries, officials said. Another adult in the truck was transported to the same hospital with moderate injuries.


Now, a reader's comment, read it carefully and compare the remarks to the Charlottesville cop shoppe pursuit:

"Four innocent children are dead when police pursued a vehicle for a SIMPLE TRAFFIC VIOLATION. Okay, I read in one report that the vehicle was stolen. SO WHAT? Apparently, the police did not know that when they started the pursuit. And even if they did, this pursuit should never have happened. Was recovering that vehicle worth the lives of four innocent children? And what have they recovered, a pile of junk now?"

Do you have to hijack every single thread that has anything to do with the police? I come on this website to read the news and the comments and you just can't help yourself. I have to wade through all of your bs posts just to get a regular joe-blow citizens opinion about an event.

I have read this story a couple of times and nowhere do I see it mentioned that the officer in question is as you say a "rookie". What is a rookie, in your opinion?

Even though you can no longer wear the badge (the real issue here with your disdain for the police, as others have noted) would you consider yourself a "veteran officer"?

What is your occupation, by the way? Obviously, it is not in public service. Cops and firefighters risk their lives for you and I. Just because you can't be one doesn't mean you should paint them all with the same broad brush.

I would be curious to see Officer Flaherty's video as he went to help. Wonder if there is anything like fiasco downtown!

I am clueless how our Mayor and City Council would stand for this. Isn't this the City so concerned with pedestrian and bicycle safety ?
People use this major city thoroughfare at all times of the day and night, and all days and months of the year. Once this story first came out I would have expected our Mayor to hold a press conference announcing the chase policy would be changed. Who is protecting our citizens ?

Mr/Mrs/Miss ??, if you can't figure out what "Cop Shoppe" references, I have to wonder who helps you get dressed in the morning.

You would have been better off to simply say my posts are pathetic than to add a stupid question into the equation.

Jimi, he wasn't driving like a crazy person until the blue lights went on and the pursuit commenced. And to be quite honest, he was doing nothing more than speeding - and nothing more than the cop himswelf was doing. Ya see, double standards at play once again, cops can speed with immunity, civilians can't. The cop was 11 mph over the posted speed limit, the civilian was 17 mph over the posted speed limit. (City and county cops routinely speed up and down the streets, even when they are not on a call)

The most disturbing fact in this latest story is this --->>> " exams for UVA’s summer school had wrapped just a few hours earlier and bars closed 26 minutes before the chase..."

The real problem here is that nobody does any research as to how many criminals that run from the police have a HISTORY of being worthless human beings that run from the police because they are serial criminals. If they were dealt with properly the 5th time they commited a crime then they wouldn't have been on the streets to steal a car. The police get these people off the streets only to be released into the "custody of their parents" instead of rotting in a jail cell with nothing but books about how every human being has responsibilities to society to not lie cheat steal etc. Build more jail cells and create work farms. Let this kid spend a year of his life being woken up a 5 am to clean the bathrooms before he goes out and works the fields to grow his own food.

Stop coddling criminals and you will see more people become responsible members of society instead of thugs and lifetime lawbreakers.

If he had come through my house the cop would have had to arrest me for beating some sense into him.

The saddest part is that Obama wants to raise the taxes on the people whos house got demolished to provide this cretin free health care since he obviously will never have a job.

oooooohhhhh... Thank you.

And no, I wasn't just pulling your leg. I was (naively, I suppose) thinking there was some deeper meaning. I spent 20 years around cops & robbers as an employee in the corrections/court system, and it was a new one on me.

I, personally, would have just said 'department' or 'duty' or 'official', but that wouldn't have drawn any attention, eh? (just sayin')

quote: "There is no reason to circle the wagons."

Sure there is! Two words.... civil liability!

A police chief or sheriff would certainly be included in a lawsuit if they publicly admit that one of their employees violated department policy. Failure to properly train, failure to supervise, etc...

Failing to admit a cop did something wrong isn't really dishonest or untrustworthy. It's individual survival. Or CYOA. That's all.

The original press release (or whatever) claiming that the cop shoppe had backed off the pursuit because it had become too dangerous makes somebody look dishonest and untrustworthy. I'm trying to recall who made this statement and when it was made. In all fairness to Longo, I don't think it was him that made the statement.

maybe they should pass a law that says that it is a 10 year mandatory sentence for willifully running from a cop at twice the speed limit. That should at least make a few losers change their mind.

Of course if the guy who owned the house had just come out and shot him we could just debate something else.

Mr/Mrs/Miss Accurate, now that I think about it, you're probably correct. Carper was one of the cops involved in the cop shoppe shooting in Friendship Court back in 2004.

quote: "If citizens get the perception that cops can do whatever they want and they will be supportedââ?¬â??it isn’t long before the relationship with the community begins to sour and trust in every officer goes down."

What do you think is happening right now nationwide? The perception is already out there, nationwide! And IMHO it's not just a perception, most cops are backed by their chiefs and sheriffs and commonwealth attorneys no matter what they do!

The only cops that aren't backed is the ones where there clearly exists a video in which the wrongful actions could never be successfully defended.

I have sat in both General District Courts and Circuit Courts and watched a small handful of cops repeatedly lie under oath. All the way from a front line rookie to a chief of police. They felt the judge would believe them because they had badges and guns. (But so did I, BY GOD!) In one particular case, the rookie had no video to support his alleged "truth" even though he had video cameras mounted in the front and rear windshields of his cop shoppe car. Furthermore, before trial, and after a subpoena was issued for the 911 tapes, they were destroyed as well. The destruction was called "accidental" by the 911 director. Yeah, sure, uh huh! Accidental my butt! The 911 tapes were have proved a few cops to be lairs and would have opened the door to extreme civil liability for all involved.

As with the local football team with the GREAT record it seems Cville needs a new leader for it's police force also. The best idea to come out of Longo was red light cameras, and that was just a SUPER idea on his part.

I am a math geek
Using dashboard clock
Time from turning on Rugby Rd to Preston-- 45 seconds
Distance ( google earth)-- .87 miles
AVERAGE SPeed--- 70 mph!!!

While the merits of police chases can be debated, an exculpatory press-release made up out of thin air cannot. Who was it who told the media that this chase had been broken off before things turned from bad to worse? On what day were they fired? We as citizens shouldn't have to FOIA dash-cam video to find out if department spokespeople, who ultimately work for us, are lying to our faces. This should not be brushed under the carpet.

Funny how everyone is all up in arms about Longo and the officer, but only one person has mentioned the dirtbag in a stolen car, failing to obey basic rules of the road, then driving like a crazy person willing to kill innocent people so he can destroy someone else car and someone elses home then runs away.

And if these worthless scumbags know that all they have to do it drive crazy and the police will let them go then what do you think they will do EVERY SINGLE TIME. Right, they will ALL drive crazy every time and more people will get hurt in the long run.

Now that he is caught he should be put to work, earning the money to repay the $100,000 plus damage he has done and not be allowed to spend a cent on anything more than a pair of workboots, a shirt and some jeans.

quote: The troopers ââ?¬Å?quite often” cease a pursuit, says Virginia State Police spokesperson Geller. ââ?¬Å?Safety is the ultimate objective.”

Yeah, uh huh. Yet another well trained spokesperson spewing out the same "song and dance" we heard in this Charlottesville pursuit. Until a video surfaces and contradicts the original press release of course. This Charlottesville pursuit didn't end because the cop shoppe thought it had become unsafe, as originally reported. It ended only once the cop shoppe thought they had lost the fleeing suspect.

Before you guys and girls start nailing Longo to the cross, you need to understand liability a little better. OK, let's assume Longo steps forward and says his young inexperienced rookie violated policy and has been suspended for a month without pay. He has just opened the door for every insurance company involved in damages resulting from this pursuit to sue the City of Charlottesville, the Cop Shoppe, and Timothy Longo.

More likely than not, the City Attorney's office coached Longo on exactly what to say and when to say it. And they probably coached him not to say anything if the question(s) isn't asked, as in don't volunteer any information.

Police chiefs and sheriffs shield themselves and their employers from lawsuits every day of the year simply by the actions they take and the remarks made in press releases. It's been going on for years and will never change. To the average citizen, it's better known as CYOA!

WTF is a "cop shoppe" that you keep referring to in your pathetic posts??

quote: "do you think if we stop playing with him, he’ll go home? *glaring at you know who*"

So your intent here is "playing"?

Thanks for clearing that up.

Another thing I would like to correct here while we're at it, the author of this story has an obvious typo above when he says 100 innocent civilians are being killed in cop shoppe pursuits each year. The NHTSA actually reports that anywhere from 300 to 400 people are killed in cop shoppe pursuits every year.

because the cop in the pursuit gave me a ticket about 5 years ago.


I agree that it is happening now-this type of incident just brings it out into the light. Once credibility is lost, it is very hard to get back. Once people believe the police are not accountable for their actions, they lose their respect. This community deserves better.

On their worst day I would still rather have a cop answer my 911 call than the criminals they pursue at high speeds.

I will say one thing in the hopes that chief longo reads this... it would be a lot better for you if you said "I am gathering all of the facts TODAY and will issue a statement TOMORROW."

Then just say the truth. There is no reason to circle the wagons. People like me who appreciate the Police will always defend your officers when they are in the right and will show reasonable forgiveness when they are wrong. Your lack of faith in the public makes you look dishonest and untrustworty. I know different as this is a small town. Thank you.

They all just love that "rush" of the hot pursuit.

I'm going to make a suggestion here -- do you think if we stop playing with him, he'll go home? *glaring at you know who*

gassie's post actually makes an excellent point, but I'm curious too

What deeper meaning could "cop shoppe" possibly invoke? If you want a donut, you go to a donut shoppe. If you want your hair done, you go to a hair shoppe. If you want a cop, you would go to a cop shoppe, or dial 911 to have a cop shoppe representative respond.

Plus.... cop shoppe is a lot easier to type too. :)

Mr/Mrs/Miss NewerCviller, this thread is not about me. Do you have anything to add to this story? What's your thoughts on cop shoppe pursuits? What's your opinion on this particular cop shoppe pursuit? Have you ever had a family member, relative or close friend seriously injured or killed in a senseless cop shoppe pursuit? Do you understand why a police chief or sheriff can't do a dayum thing about rookies that engage in senseless high speed pursuits or other wrongful actions in the performance of their cop shoppe duties? What do you think of a rookie losing control of his cop shoppe car and killing a veteran off duty cop shoppe lieutenant? You should be able to offer some type of constructive discussion here. As it has been said in 3,435,234 internet discussions in the past, don't debate the "participants", debate the issues being discussed.

I thought if you wanted a cop you went to a donut shoppe?

Well of course 4 lives are not worth a wreaked car. Its a frivolous and incendiary statement that has little to do with rational discussion. Not 1 life if worth a car. But I still wonder what impact it will have on routine traffic stops if the bad guys know that if they hit the gas, drive like crazy for 2-3 miles while MAKING sure that they are endangering lives. Dirtbags like the guy in the speeding car will just do the same.

Do we really want to encourage someone to drive dangerously?

What is scary is that some here seems to be blaming the officer for the bad guys actions. Ummm....the bad guy is the one who did not stop when the siren and lights went on.

quote: "Do you have to hijack every single thread that has anything to do with the police?"


quote: "Even though you can no longer wear the badge..."

I'm confused. Other than my current age, and not wanting to any longer, why am I not able to?

quote: "I have read this story a couple of times and nowhere do I see it mentioned that the officer in question is as you say a ââ?¬Å?rookie”. What is a rookie, in your opinion?"

The kid had two years on the job. Anybody with less than 10 years in a sworn cop shoppe job is a rookie in my opinion.

quote: "Cops and firefighters risk their lives for you and I."

I have nothing but respect for our firemen and rescue squad employees. They are top notch. And I have respect for good decent honest cops. It's been my experience over the last 10 to 15 years that good decert honest cops are getting harder to come by. I think the problem started when cop shoppes nationwide had to lower their hiring standards to attract applicants. And I think the kids being hired nowadays grew up watching the COPS TV show and picked up all the bad habits they show each week. Any law professor can watch COPS and point out dozens of things they do illegally in almost any episode. Search and seizure is right at the top of the list. You don't have any Constitutional rights with this new breed of rookie out here on the streets, IMHO.

quote: "Just because you can’t be one doesn’t mean you should paint them all with the same broad brush."

There you go with that "can't be" foolishness again. I turned down full time cop shoppe job offers several times, as recently as 2001 I might add. I had already served almost 30 years and simply wasn't interested in moving so as to accept the positions. I consider myself semi-retired now and am happier than I have ever been.

quote: "...would you consider yourself a veteran officer?"

Yes. And having been involved in a 145+ mph high speed pursuit in 1973 (I was not driving the cop shoppe car), I am well qualified to speak of the dangers involved. And of all people, guess who we were chasing on I-64? An auto insurance agent! Needless to say, I am confident his auto policy was cancelled the folowing morning.

I myself, as a cop shoppe driver, was involved in 2 pursuits. One was a slow speed commercial driver who debated whether he wanted to stop or not. The second was a kid who tried to outrun me on his grandfather's farm. He failed.

I don't know what "cop shoppe" means either, and apparently there are several of us on here that are similarly in the dark -- so I don't think it a stupid question. So, GSOE, enlighten us, por favor? (That is, of course, unless you'd rather berate me as well.)

gasbag...its sad that you comment on stories that you are mentioned in...need a life??

poonhound, good point! I stand corrected! :)

"PursuitSafety says that 40 percent of all pursuits result in collisions, and about three innocent bystanders are killed every week."

So that's 150 innocent people killed every year. That is relatively small compared to 14,000 murders, 89,000 rapes, 440,000 robberies, and 950,000 motor vehicular theft each year. Not pursuing suspects will result in criminals escaping and thus, higher crime rates, including more nurders. The dilemma is, innocent people accidentally killed by the police versus innocent people killed by criminals because the police let them get away? The number of innocent people killed by the police is nowhere near the number of people saved by police apprehension of criminals. Thus, based on numbers, police should continue pursuing criminals.

WORST EVER! Wouldn't expect him to show any common sense and at least reprimand the officer for engaging in a dangerous high speed pursuit over a FAILURE TO YIELD violation!!!! Excuses, excuses, excuses. He's a complete joke.

I wonder how you folks would feel if a cop didn’t chase somebody who ran and it turned out later that it was a missing girl who was kidnapped from a concert hall in the trunk.

Or if the cop killed the missing girl as she tried to cross Rugby.

Hey, this game is fun!

This "what if" game is actually right much fun.

What if a city cop had just gotten off work and was on the way home in his personal car. And the on duty cop chased this suspect into the off duty cop broadside and killed him? Instead of jumping the curb and sailing through the air, 85 miles per hour right into the driver's door.


shempdaddy, you have to realize it's not totally about deflecting civil liability. The other "cop shoppe employees" are a VERY large factor here too. If the chief does not back this pursuit cop and penalizes pursuit cop for a policy violation, the rest of the cop shoppe gets an instant case of the butt for the chief. This is why former Chief Wolford went away from here, the cop shoppe employees organized a "no confidence" vote against him. They can do the same against Longo. So he has to keep them happy.

I'll never claim to know everything that went on during the "hang Wolford" circus, but I do know his position needed to be vacated because somebody else wanted it so badly.

GSOE--maybe some officers don't deserve the support of the chief, and supporting bad behavior sends an even more destructive message that accountability is not important in the department--do what you want--we will back you up. It sounds like a good way to build morale. In reality, it is the slow road to risking the credibility of the entire department, including officers on the street. If citizens get the perception that cops can do whatever they want and they will be supported--it isn't long before the relationship with the community begins to sour and trust in every officer goes down.

I understand why a Police Chief would support his officers, no matter what they do, to boost morale. I argue that in the long run it does more harm than good by eroding credibility, discouraging accountability, and discouraging the vast majority of officers who use good judgement and realize that their jobs are made alot easier when the citizens respect the police.

If this was an event that would have occurred back 25 years ago, then most persons offering comments would have asked for the perpetrators butt be hauled away for a couple of years to some camp deep in the Virginia woods to teach the moron some understanding of respect for other persons property, respect for endangering lives and to grow up and be a citizen contributing positively to society. get back what you teach and ask for. Every policeman should quit and go to some self respecting community where law officers are respected and not considered criminals by the populace that speaks out. Oh, and if I was that 17 year old creep...well I'd stay home forever. But you know if he gets away with this one because the goodie goodies in town feel he was forced to run by the police... well he will be back to his no good doings once again. Best to throw him in jail and let him stay there for awhile, let him out and look out again for the creep.

quote: "...and if I was that 17 year old creep”Šwell I’d stay home forever."

Yes, he should stay at home. Because more likely than not, the cop shoppe will be stopping him and harassing him EVERY time they see him in public from now on. That's the way this new breed of rookies operate. Once they get a case of the butt for you, it never goes away.

you know you people just started seeing how some charlottesville pd is. I been dealing with them all my life. no matter if am doing bad or good but in there am always doing bad. so i fell is this you going to bark bout this for awhile and its never going to change. you all you get one like this and go crazy on my side of town we get this everyday. am not making this no white or black thing. but if this would of happen were i live u wouldn't here bout it. so how u like them apples there not to good is they. also for one's who called this kid a creep and wrothless human being think if that was ur child or brother or any one in ur famly. you would respect that would u. i think the one's who said that u the reason y things so hard for crimials now out here. i not surpporting all of them cause are bad but some are not. i been jail myself am out doing for my i got house car money good job and i know more people doing the same. but ones who don't get a break like that of coruse they go back to the same thing cause u downing them not giving them a chance to better there self they going rob and steal sell . so u all think about this i hope u can understand what am saying am not being a butt am speaking my mind thnak you

gasbag u suck grow up u know what he's talking about

Liberal crap is spewed from the kindergardens up to the doctoral levels at the UVA in Charlottesville. We need some bold conservatives to kick some butt around here by gutting up and voting to remove liberal union driven teachers from the schools and get some teachers who teach the golden rule and the great Constitution of these United States. The darn Yankees from up nawth have ruined everything in the city and the county. Time to get bold, support the police and throw out the bums including the new US Rep who sucks up to Pelosi and Obama. Oust them all. Keep Thomas and Snow and the other guy...whoever he is...