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Video of LAPD high-speed chase that killed two bystanders raises new questions

VIDEO | 01:04
LAPD pursuit video shows 80-second chase with cops only shutting off siren few seconds before fatal crash

LAPD releases video that shows pursuit of Cadillac that killed two innocent bystanders in South LA.

A Los Angeles police car dash cam of a pursuit shows officers chased a fleeing motorist at high speed for at least 80 seconds before the suspect went through a red light and collided with another car, killing two people inside.

Officers opted to turn off their lights and siren and back off the pursuit only a few seconds before the fatal collision that took the lives of Janisha Harris, 35, and Jamarea Keyes, 38, the LAPD video of the Aug. 19 incident shows.

The release of the LAPD recording comes a day after LAPD Chief Michel Moore announced he had decided to make the videos public after demands from the pair’s family members.

Activists and the families’ attorney had accused the LAPD of covering up its role in the deaths after a police report revealed that two officers from the department’s 77th Street Station pursued the speeding motorist shortly before the deadly crash. That report contradicted an initial LAPD statement that there was no pursuit.

“The officers were engaged in a high-speed pursuit,” said Jasmine Mines, attorney for the two families, alleging the blame for the deadly events lay with the LAPD. She said the pursuit went on across four streets and lasted more than a minute, and only really stopped when officers saw a red light ahead with a busy junction. “Even when the sirens went off, the officers were clearly in pursuit.”

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There has been debate for years about when police should chase suspects who refuse to stop and when conditions are dangerous enough that officers should pull away. A 2017 L.A. County grand jury report found that local police are “causing unnecessary bystander injuries and deaths,” and that law enforcement officers need better training to reduce the risk of crashes during high-speed pursuits.

Tanya Keyes, Jamarea Keyes’ widow, said the video showed the officers never backed off. “We will get justice,” she said. “We will not stop.” Keyes left behind four children; Harris left behind a son and daughter.

In a narration of the incident released by the LAPD, Capt. Kelly Muniz said the officers spotted the speeding 2006 Green Cadillac at 80th and San Pedro streets going in the opposite direction and made a U-turn about 4:12 a.m.

The officers attempted to catch up with the Cadillac, which made several turns, and intermittently used the cruiser’s lights and sirens “independently” to indicate to stop. Still, the suspect, later identified as Matthew Sutton, ignored them and continued to flee.

There was no sound for the first minute of the police car’s front-facing camera video footage as the officers’ cruiser pursued the Cadillac, sometimes just feet from its rear bumper. The sirens can be heard continuously in about the last 15 to 20 seconds of the video.

Muniz said because the driver continued to accelerate away, the officers opted to turn off their lights and siren, “indicating they would no longer be attempting to stop the vehicle. Moments later, the driver of Cadillac ran a red tri-phase [light] at the intersection of Manchester and Broadway and collided with a 2015 BMW 535I that was traveling southbound on Broadway.” Officer body camera video captured the mangled wreckage of four vehicles in the large intersection.

Mines, an attorney for the families, alleges the LAPD cruiser did not stop pursuing the Cadillac and merely turned off its lights and sirens immediately before the red light and deadly crash with the fleeing car doing an estimated 70 mph. Harris and Keyes were on their way home from work on the morning of Aug. 19 when the speeding motorist ran the red light, slamming into the side of their BMW.

A police spokesman had initially denied that the 77th Street station police car had initiated the pursuit. But The Times obtained a police report stating it was “determined that 77th Patrol Unit 12A51 was in pursuit of the vehicle at the time of the crash.” In response to the report, an LAPD statement said, “after further review, it was determined that the officers had gone in pursuit for 15 seconds. They shut down the pursuit before the collision.”


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