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High-Speed Police Chases Have Killed Thousands of Innocent Bystanders

A gunman who shot two women in Miami led police on a high-speed chase that ended when he rammed into an innocent driver in 2013. The driver was killed. (AP Photo)
A gunman who shot two women in Miami led police on a high-speed chase that ended when he rammed into an innocent driver in 2013. The driver was killed. (AP Photo)

(USA Today) – More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police car chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds and in hazardous conditions, often for minor infractions, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The bystanders and the passengers in chased cars account for nearly half of all people killed in police pursuits from 1979 through 2013, USA TODAY found. Most bystanders were killed in their own cars by a fleeing driver.

Police across the USA chase tens of thousands of people each year — usually for traffic violations or misdemeanors — often causing drivers to speed away recklessly. Recent cases show the danger of the longstanding police practice of chasing minor offenders.

A 25-year-old New Jersey man was killed July 18 by a driver police chased for running a red light.

A 63-year-old Indianapolis grandmother was killed June 7 by a driver police chased four miles for shoplifting.

A 60-year-old federal worker was killed March 19 near Washington, D.C., by a driver police chased because his headlights were off.

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