Nearly 19 months after a deadly police chase claimed the lives of a 75-year-old woman and her two grandchildren headed to church, the city of Atlanta and the police department have been added to a lawsuit alleging officers violated policy.
Dashcam footage released Wednesday shows officers allowed the suspect — who is still at large — to back up and turn around instead of boxing him in, something Dorothy Wright’s loved ones said could have prevented the chase from killing her and her grandchildren.
“That’s when it should’ve ended,” her son-in-law, Douglas Partridge, told Channel 2 Action News. “It should’ve ended two minutes before the crash.”
The chase on Jan. 31, 2016, covered 10 miles. The family filed a lawsuit against College Park police in August 2016.
“There are APD officers blocking him,” attorney Christopher Chestnut told Channel 2, “so he turns around and goes in a different direction.”
The chase continued from there, ending with the suspect crashing into Wright’s red Buick. Wright and her grandson Cameron Costner, 12, died at the scene. Layla Partridge, 6, was ejected from the car and found 12 hours later. She was heavily covered with shrubbery near the crash scene.
Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
Authorities have not said why they were chasing the suspect in what Chestnut called a “non-forcible felony,” since there was “no threat to life.”
A sketch of the hit-and-run driver was released, but he hasn’t been found. According to the 2016 lawsuit filed against College Park police, the driver may be a teenage boy who took the SUV as part of a joyride.
Partridge still grapples with the accident. “To wipe out an entire generation ... that vehicle was not worth it.”
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