- Chicago Paper Scrutinizes Metro Police Department's Overtime Usage
- Official: FBI Agents' Cause of Death Unlikely Soon
- Virginia Driver Who Hit Officer with Car Shot, Killed
- 2013 Trainer of the Year!
- Tips for Trainers
- Technology & Officer Safety
- NY Police Look Into Links Between Fatal Shooting, Anti-Gay Attacks
DALLAS -- Officer Christopher Cordray raced more than 20 miles across Dallas, weaving in and out of traffic, sometimes driving on the shoulder of the road, at speeds topping 100 mph.
But he wasn't chasing a suspect; he was trying to catch up with a high-speed chase that stretched from Lake Highlands to Mesquite and back to Dallas, and involved at least 10 squad cars.
Dallas police were trying to arrest a man who had tried to run over several officers during a confrontation at an apartment parking lot Saturday. They got their man, but Police Chief David Kunkle said Thursday that he plans to appoint a special panel to explore the chase itself.
The panel will look at whether policies were violated and may propose changes to the department's already-stringent chase procedures.
"There are things about his response that ... just weren't reasonable," said Chief Kunkle, who visited the injured officer in the hospital Thursday. "I want to make sure that we're doing everything possible to keep our officers and the innocent driving public safe."
Officer Cordray's pursuit ended when he hit a tree in Pleasant Grove. He's in good condition at Baylor University Medical Center after undergoing surgeries on a hip, an ankle and a knee. He had a knee cap replaced with an artificial one.
Officer Cordray, a member of the Dallas Police Association, could not be reached for comment.
"We're just fortunate that the officer didn't get killed," said Senior Cpl. Glenn White, DPA's president. He said he did not want to second-guess the actions of an injured officer and would wait to see the results of the investigations. But he added that Officer Cordray, 28, has a reputation as an outstanding younger officer "who wants to go out there and do good for the citizens."
Chief Kunkle met with the police associations on Wednesday and showed them the nearly 30-minute video from Officer Cordray's in-car camera.
Lt. Rick Andrews, head of the Dallas Police Executive Lodge, which represents higher-ranking officers, said he found the video disturbing.
"For 17 minutes, he's just racing down the road and there's no pursuit in sight," Lt. Andrews said. "We've got to make better decisions in these critical incidents."
He and Sgt. Sheldon Smith, first vice president of the Dallas Black Police Association, said that they agreed with Chief Kunkle's decision to appoint a panel. "In the end, it will make us a better department," Sgt. Smith said.
Saturday's chase began in Lake Highlands after a woman called 911 to report that her ex-boyfriend was threatening her at the Oakwood Creek Condos in the 7900 block of Skillman Street.
Police confronted the man, who threw his vehicle in reverse, rammed two squad cars and tried to run over three police officers before fleeing, authorities said.
Meanwhile, Officer Cordray was just over three miles away in the area of Abrams and Fisher roads. He sped toward the chase, at times turning his lights and sirens on and off as he raced through town.
The in-car video shows Officer Cordray traveling north to Interstate 635, sometimes passing people on the left side of the shoulder and reaching speeds of at least 108, then heading south to Interstate 30, where he joined in around Buckner Boulevard, police said. The chase continued into Mesquite, where some officers traveled at high speeds through a busy restaurant parking lot. It then returned to Dallas.
Police tried unsuccessfully to stop the Suburban by puncturing its tires. One police officer drove into a ditch during the pursuit.
Officer Cordray hit a tree on Cheyenne Road, roughly about half-mile south of Lake June Road. The video ends with the camera on a cracked windshield, backlit by blue and red squad car lights.
Police say the man being chased, Jason Sneed, 27, abandoned his vehicle and fled. He was captured nearby.
The department's current policy allows two officers and a supervisor to take part in a chase, although a supervisor can authorize additional vehicles. In this case, the supervisor authorized two additional vehicles. Officer Cordray's was not one of them.
Chief Kunkle has also ordered an administrative review of the pursuit. Mr. Sneed is being held in the Dallas County Jail on three counts of aggravated assault on a public servant, assault on a public servant and evading arrest. His bail totaled $425,000.
AT A GLANCE Police chase policy
Dallas police implemented the current chase policy in 2006 after a review ordered by Police Chief David Kunkle. The review was prompted by an August 2004 chase in which a man fleeing officers in a stolen vehicle struck and killed a motorist.
- The policy: Among the most restrictive in the nation, it says that officers can pursue offenders at high speeds only when they are suspected of committing violent felonies. Chief Kunkle has repeatedly said his department's policy is the safest, best way to deal with nonviolent crimes.
- The rank-and-file: Many patrol officers chafe under that policy, saying it inhibits them from catching criminals.
- The result: In 2005, there were about 355 police pursuits. Roughly 230 of those were for traffic violations and stolen vehicles. Last year, there were about 70 pursuits.