Chase boy arrested: Scalped house family comes home

news-scalphousechaseA motorist gets out of the way of the chase near Madison House on Rugby Road.

There has been an arrest in the case of the 85mph chase that resulted in a stolen car scalping a house on Rugby Road. About two months after the summertime incident, a 17-year-old city student was arrested, according to Charlottesville spokesperson Ric Barrick, who also–- 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.

In a related development, a work crew installed a guardrail Friday at the spot where the vehicle left the roadway to prevent such future dangerous aerobatics, but in so doing, the crew cut an underground gas line, causing a road detour lasting much of the morning.

Meanwhile, Friday, October 30 is also move-back day for architect Russell Skinner and his wife, Nura Yingling, an English teacher and Tandem School administrator. The couple lost their garage–- and nearly their lives–- in the August 7 incident.

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

State law doesn't forbid police pursuits, nor does it require officers to obey traffic signals, but it does require the officer to activate lights and sirens, both of which are evident in the Rugby Road video.

Yingling, who hasn't yet seen the dashcam video, says she was initially told that the chase was curtailed; however the video shows the police 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 such 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.

Closer to home, Petersburg police became the target of two lawsuits in August after motorists died in a pair of 2008 pursuits at speeds lower than what happened on Rugby at 2:26am.

Charlottesville police Chief Longo, addressing the case in a letter accompanied by a copy of CPD pursuit policy, conceded that the pursuit raised a pair of concerns–- particularly the speed–- but that dry pavement, the late hour, and the absence of pedestrians weighed against letting the thief (even if the officer didn't know there was a thief at the time) speed away into the night.

"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 a teaching moment of her own; and 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."

Her husband said that he's learned that the 17-year-old suspect, as the absence of blood at the scene suggested, 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 silver Ford Five Hundred sedan was a tree that cushioned the car's return to earth.

The whole escapade began around 11:30pm that evening 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 his keys and his car had been stolen, says the City's Barrick.

On the video, an alert Officer Carper spots the vehicle speeding east on University Avenue. Making a quick U-turn, Carper follows the car through a red light, gives chase past "Mad Bowl," through the heart of fraternities, sororities, and other hip off-campus student housing along Rugby before the road shifts to upscale single-family dwellings and on to the bend at Preston Avenue where the car disappears.

"Tonight's our first night sleeping under the mega-guardrail," says Skinner, noting that it's much taller than typical barrier. And he raves about the contractors who put his house back together.

"I hate to admit it," says Skinner, whose insurance company temporarily ensconced him at the luxurious Omni hotel, "but this has been almost a positive experience."

–updated 6:12pm, Monday, November 1 to remove Longo unavailable for comment with Longo perspective.


just to let you all know the policy HAS changed. when an officer is told to go code 3,(lights and sirens) he is to do what he is told. he did what was needed to do to keep up with the perpetrator,and he did at his discretion. he did what he was trained to do. persue the stolen vehicle and end the pursuit. as you can tell,the cruiser is the new 2009 crown vic. which can reach up to 145mph. the perp's car was going way over what the posted speed limit is. and the officer had problems keeping up. so do not be mad at the officer. He just did what he was told and trained to do. be angry at the perpetrator who kept Mr.skinner out of his home for 2 months.

Cop had every right and duty, his quick response on deserted streets could have been critical if the inhabitants of the house were injured. If he had lagged behind he may never have seen the entry point of the car into the residence.

Mr/Mrs/Miss know your facts, know your facts before posting please. The Michigan State Police tests all the new cop shoppe cars every year. Here's the link to the 2009 models....

The most they could get out of a 2009 Crown Victoria was 128 miles per hour with a 3.27 rear axle, and 122 miles per hour out of a 3.55 rear axle.

The 6 cylinder Chevrolet Impala on the other hand, it was capable of 139 miles per hour during their testing. The 6 cylinder E85 fuel Chevrolet Impala was capable of 140 miles per hour.

The Dodge Charger with a 6 cylinder was capable of 136 miles per hour, while the V8 Dodge Charger was capable of 146 miles per hour.

Seems everything is FASTER than the Crown Victoria. Even the 6 cylinder cars. LOL!

"Top Speed" is not an issue here. No cop in the city or county has any business whatsoever even thinking about doing 120 to 140 miles per hour. And any cop that does deserves to be terminated on the spot with no questions asked.

The problem is and always will be that this piece of crap human being will be back on the street too soon because we feel sorry for him and want to give him another chance.

I would bet a thousand bucks he has a history....... of being let go.

If they throw the book at him not for the car theft but for the running from the cops and reckless endangerment then his buddies will think twice before they run.

The cops were right this time and I am glad they did it. If they let him get away he would just brag and recruit more pieces of crap to join him and end up killing someome when they wake up as they are getting robbed.

They should bill his parents for the property damage and if they can't pay it and are on welfare take it away. Personal responsibility is out the window in this town.

The kids lucky he didn't hit my house becasue I would have beat him senseless.

Archie, I suspect the force and violence of the crash itself beat the kid senseless. :)

I saw the car up close and in person at the wrecker service. If I had not known better, I would bet the kid had not walked away from the accident.

You're worried about a cop crossing a yellow line? Apparently you are not learned about how to 'drive the line' when it comes to racing or driving aggressively when in pursuit, let alone simply driving. It is FAR more safe to follow the natural curve in the road than stay in the 'correct' lane and risk blowing out a tire, flipping the vehicle, or skidding out. The cop was following proper driving protocol. Charlottesville drivers are terribly guilty of not knowing basic driving skills and stop at green lights to let pedestrians cross against traffic, block intersections, and drive under the speed limit, which cause far more accidents than the few and far inbetween cop chase.

And yes, anyone stupid enough to lead a cop on a high-speed chase should be charged with evading police and reckless endangerment along with unsafe use of a motor vehicle. My dad was a cop for many years. I know my laws.

My grandfather knew a guy who knew a lady who had a thrid cousin as a cop. I know my laws too. :)

I'm going to say this one more time. A stolen car is not worth risking serious injury or death to a civilian or a cop. The automakers build new cars every day of the year, and the insurance companies replace stolen cars almost every day of the year as well. Once a cop starts chasing a stolen car, and that car speeds up even more, let the driver go! It's not worth it. This pursuit had already gotten up to speeds of 85 on winding city streets. And contrary to the original press releases, the video shows the cop did NOT end the pursuit become it had become too dangerous. He only ended the pursuit after he was already running 85 miles per hour and no longer had the suspect's car in sight! A sergeant should have called the rookie off due to the speeds this pursuit now involved.

Having responded to many emergency calls in the early 70s in Albemarle County, I can tell you there's very few county roads you want to do 85 miles per hour on. And even less - to none - in the city limits.

If this kid had just murdered 2 people and was on the way to another location across town to kill 2 more people, yes, the risks are worth a high speed pursuit. That was not the case here, they were chasing nothing more than a stolen car. Just because "eluding police" puts the driver into the felon class suddenly, that's still not sufficient cause to risk death or serious injury to anybody over a stupid car. Obviously, Chief Longo needs to take a serious look at his in city pursuit policies before somebody gets killed.

(Several years ago, during a major high speed pursuit in this city, one cop called to another and said he was running 99 miles per hour and still couldn't catch up with the suspect. My wife was driving the city streets on her way to work at the time. I knew it was a waste of time to address my concern with the city cop shoppe. I filed a written complaint over this speed of 99 miles per hour in the city limits with the city manager Gary O'Connell. The complaint was never acknowledged or answered. I didn't even get an "our cop did nothing wrong" letter back. So don't expect much in the City of Charlottesville until an innocent civilian gets killed. Only then will they address high speed pursuits, IMHO!)

After watching this video and seeing the cop's path, I have to agree that this chase seems dangerous. The cop appears to go over the double yellow line several times and he's going through crosswalks. I know it was late at night, but that's a heavy pedestrian area. If someone had been in the crosswalk as he was driving that fast, would he have been able to stop?

ead, the local pursuit policy in Albemarle County used to read "no faster than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit", even if the blue lights and sirens are activated. If this has changed, I sure would like to know about it.

And the same policy should apply on the narrow and winding streets in Charlottesville.

If a cop violates written policy, and kills an innocent civilian..... the kid has nothing. The cop shoppe is sued and the taxpayers get stuck with the bills after the lawsuit.

The police officer was trying to keep up, not deciding how fast things should be going. Sue the dumbass kid, leave the cop alone.

my bad! typo above - the 2009 Crown Victoria with the 3.55 rear axle is only capable of 120 miles per hour, not 122 miles per hour.

And by the way, the Ford Crown Victoria is officially dead as of September 2011. The St Thomas assembly plant in Canada is being closed. Ford is working on marketing a police package version of the Taurus.

I figured the video would be quite revealing.

85 mph is too fast! It makes the suspect drive even faster as he keeps trying to get away!

As with all areas, it's just a matter of time before an innocent civilian gets killed in Charlottesville or Albemarle County when a cop shoppe car loses control of their vehicle! And don't ever assume it can't happen. The cop chasing Beefy Brown on August 12, 2007 lost control of his Chesterfield County cop shoppe car and KILLED off duty Colonial Heights police Lt. James Sears.

what if all burglars ,bank robbers,car thieves ,ect. knew as long as they were in a 25 mph speed zone they were home free.omg the whole world would be a better place wouldnt it ,yea right .

Go back to sleep Steve. You're probably correct that the cop should've backed off. But ever since you got canned by the Sheriff's office, you see police conspiracies everywhere.

This has got to be a first. Insult me, and admit that I know what I am talking about in the same breath. ROFL!!!

quote: Longo wrote. ââ?¬Å?...conceded that the pursuit raised a pair of concernsââ?¬â? particularly the speedââ?¬â? but that dry pavement, the late hour, and the absence of pedestrians weighed against letting the thief speed away into the night... Had this occurred at 2:30 in the afternoon when traffic conditions were different, I may not have come to the same conclusion.”

I rest my case!

This is exactly the type of response I expected when I asked why an officer would be doing 99 miles per hour in the city limits at 10:30 p.m.

Nothing will be done until an innocent civilian is killed during these high speed pursuits. 2:30 a.m. in that particular section of town is extremely dangerous. I can see it now, "Sir... we regret to inform you that your drunk UVA student son was run over by one of our cop shoppe cars that was going 85 mph during a high speed pursuit! Your son should have looked both ways before stumbling into the roadway in his drunken stupor!"

And I guess it's safe to now assume they have no specified top speed that is allowed by the city's pursuit policy. This quite interesting too. Nothing prevents a rookie from going 125 miles per hour down the bypass!

Oh well! Charlottesville - an All American city.

i can usually here a siren a mile off sittin in my house ,if someone cannot here it outside while walking down the street and recognize that theres an emergency coming , anyone who thinks the cop should have backed off ,then maybe you dont know what its like to have your house broken into or your car stolen. YET.

The cop should get in trouble its never ok to go 85 in a 25 zone even if you are chasing somebody safety always comes first.

Jason, if my car is stolen I would rather it end up in a chop shop and NEVER be recovered than to see an innocent civilian run over by an out of control police car or suspect's car. That is a no brainer.

A bank robbery also doesn't warrant 85 mph speeds in a residential city. Let them go, all they got is money! And very little money usually. Not worth killing an innocent civilian over. And they all get caught in the end anyway.

Burglars have done their thing and are gone by the time the cop shoppe even gets the call. And there's nothing in homes that warrant killing an innocent civilian or two with a speeding 4,500 pound cop shoppe car.

Start using your noggin, OK?

I would love to see Chief Longo state his current pursuit policy. Does he condone his troops chasing a stolen car at speeds of 85 miles per hour in a 25 zone?

Contrary to the original press releases on this chase, the cop shoppe car did not back off when he felt the chase was getting too dangerous. The cop backed off ONLY when he thought he had lost the fleeing car, IMHO! If I am correct, why was the public lied to when the original press releases were made?

The kid got away at the scene. How did they catch him? Fingerprints? DNA? Faceprint in the windshield? One can only wish. Charge the kid with reckless endangerment of human life (his own, as well as any pedestrian the video shows), and sentence him to as many years as possible with Bruno the Especially Friendly to Boys as his cellmate.

quote: "...If they let him get away he would just brag and recruit more pieces of crap to join him..."

The pieces of crap he bragged to are probably the ones who turned him into the authroities. You don't actually think the police solved this crime all by themselves, do you? Most crime is solved by public participation in the form of tips and leads.