Police: officers did not chase teen who crashed into house, killing man

May 26, 2023, 7:17 PM | Updated: May 27, 2023, 3:38 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah  — Security cameras captured the critical moments before Thursday’s deadly crash in West Valley City when a 15-year-old driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a home, killing an innocent bystander who was standing outside.

“This person made a bad decision, and this person killed someone in the process,” Roxeanne Vainukiu, spokeswoman for the West Valley City Police Department said.

The videos show the 15-year-old suspect speeding down Lehi Drive before crashing, then 5-8 seconds later officers from the West Valley City Police Department can be seen following. West Valley City Police provided more clarity on Thursday’s encounter with officers prior to the crash, maintaining that officers never chased the vehicle.

The statement to KSL TV read in part:

After the stolen vehicle was spotted at 3100 South Redwood Road, an unmarked West Valley City Police vehicle followed the stolen vehicle to monitor it. Unmarked vehicles do not engage in pursuits. Monitoring the vehicle, while still obeying all standard traffic laws, allows officers to maintain sight of the vehicle so that if it stops and the occupants exit the vehicle, police can engage the occupants. That is what happened in this case. The vehicle stopped in the area of Beaver Street and Lehi Drive. The occupants exited the vehicle and officers approached the occupants.

As officers moved into place, the passengers from the vehicle ran. Officers were able to catch them and take them into custody. The driver of the vehicle got back inside the vehicle. Upon seeing the driver get back inside, a nearby officer deployed spike strips in the street. The officer had supervisor permission to do so, as is our policy regarding spike strip deployment. The suspect drove around a police vehicle, hitting it in the process and drove over the spike strips. The spike strips are estimated to have been within 15 feet of where the suspect vehicle was initially stopped.

Spike strips are equipped with hollow core spikes that are approximately the size of a standard medium nail. They do not necessarily deflate tires instantly but begin the process of deflation through the hollow cores of any spikes retained in the tire. The suspect did not lose control upon hitting the spike strip, but instead, sped away from the scene. Officers did not pursue the suspect.

The suspect accelerated to a high rate of speed and traveled east on Lehi Drive. As the suspect rounded a curve on Lehi Drive, which is a couple hundred yards from where he took off, he lost control of the vehicle and went off the road and into the yards of homes along the road. Efforts to determine the speed of the suspect vehicle are underway.

Roxeanne Vainukiu, Deputy Communications Director for the West Valley City Police Department.

According to the West Valley Police Department’s Police Policy Manual, which was updated on May 24, 2023, under the section “Vehicle Pursuits” the use of tire deflating devices on moving vehicles must be approved in advance by a supervisor and only deployed when the officer is “reasonably certain that only the pursued vehicle will be affected by their use.” Vainukiu said the officer who deployed the spike strip Thursday received that supervisor approval.

Vainukiu said because the deployment of spike strips is considered a use of force for the West Valley City Police Department, it “is reviewed by a minimum of two supervisors.” Vainukiu said it is also “subject to review by the Professional Standards Review Board which is a board comprised of West Valley City Residents.”


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Police: officers did not chase teen who crashed into house, killing man