Police pursuit policy studied after mid-day police chase

Memphis Police are investigating their role in all of this. They have a seven page policy that tells them how to handle a pursuit and there are going to be some serious questions about this one.

The officers in pursuit had clearance from the start.

But it's at this point, when they followed their suspect across a median - and into oncoming traffic - that will likely be a focal point of the internal investigation sure to follow.

"If, in the officer's opinion, it begins to risk other people's lives and speed becomes excessive, then it would be a good idea to discontinue the chase," says Police Inspector Billy Garrett.

He would not discuss details of this case with us, saying it was too soon and the paperwork still hadn't made it to his office. But he did explain that officers have an elaborate policy that - among other things - requires them to get authorization before beginning pursuit.

And it says they can chase when they believe the suspect committed a violent felony.

In this case, police believed that car was stolen during a carjacking earlier this month and Garrett says a carjacking qualifies as a violent felony.

"If they see a vehicle that's been involved in a violent crime, then it's their responsibility and duty to make some attempt at an apprehension, or we would be negligent in our duties," he says.

But police are also supposed to stop their pursuit when it becomes dangerous.

At the moment when the police officer crosses the median, the only choice for the him would have been to give up the chase when the suspect crosses. Instead, the officer follows the suspect into oncoming traffic and pursues until the suspect crashes.

That's one of the things that investigators at 201 Poplar are going to have to look at. It's standard policy to investigate pursuits when there are injuries involves and - in this case - one person died and three people in that oncoming vehicle were injured.