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California Police Involved in High-Speed Chase

Aired May 06, 2002 - 15:27   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: CNN is following a car chase in the Los Angeles area. We are going to take you there now. These are live pictures. The car was observed about 90 minutes, a little over 90 minutes ago, in the San Bernardino area. It was seen to have no plates, no license plates, and it was missing a hood apparently.

At that point, a California Highway Patrol car gave chase. The car they were following -- you can see the officers there with their guns drawn. This is a live picture coming out of -- we don't have the exact location. We just know that it's north of Los Angeles. The car gave chase on the number of roads, a number of interstate highways in and around the Los Angeles area and it has only been literally in the last few minutes that the car, the car you see there on the left, lower left part of the screen, has come to a halt, to a stop. And it's now surrounded, or at least in one part, by three and now four California Highway Patrol cars.

At one point, CNN had been told that the patrol officer had gotten permission to perform a maneuver to actually hit the car to stop it if it slowed down enough and the conditions were safe, but evidently that never came about. The car did come to a stop and now the cars are watching. Let's listen to a little bit of coverage from California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: That is correct. I would estimate about three quarters a mile behind him, the traffic has come to a complete stop. That's the northbound lanes. And up ahead, the southbound lanes, opposing traffic, about another three-quarters of a mile as well, so you say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Equidistant between the two traffic breaks. They've got all lanes in the north and southbound freeway just north of Lebec completely to themselves. And as this has comes to a stop, as you said, and the suspect, the driver, appears not to be complying with the CHP officer demands to get out of the car with his hands up and give himself up.

WOODRUFF: We're watching -- this is live coverage of what was a car chase in the Los Angeles area in California. California Highway Patrol following this car you don't see on the screen right now. It gave chase for about 90 minutes, almost two hours, and just literally minutes ago it came to a stop. You can see the California Highway Patrol officers there with their guns drawn.

They appear to be asking the driver to come out. He has not done so yet. So we are watching a situation unfold before us.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They are pretty close to him. Certainly with the weapons drawn, if he tried to make any movements that would threaten the officers, they are close enough to him that any sort of gunfire probably would hit his mark.

So about 30 feet I would imagine -- that is correct, correct -- if he does have a weapon in the vehicle, of course, it would be foolish for him to try to use it. If he doesn't, he certainly is endangering himself because the CHP doesn't know he doesn't have a weapon and they are just going to try and treat him as if he's armed. It's the worst case scenario and they have to go by that.

That's right. When we zoomed in just there it appeared that he was still sitting in the driver's seat and hasn't moved around inside the vehicle that we can see. And he has to know what he's facing. He has to see the officers behind him and he's got to be able to hear also exactly what is going on down there, those bull horns are quite loud. I'm sure that the instructions are quite clear. I'm sure he's able to hear it no problem, but we are just saying he's not complying. That's it.

Right. We have been monitoring on and off and what we normally we see in this situation is that they will do it periodically or intermittently, yell the commands out, wait for him to comply, then yell them out again. And they will do that over and over and over until it just becomes absolutely futile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully he's responding to the officers in some manner. He's responding to them in some fashion to let the officers know that he understands their demands. He understands their orders and he's just refusing to comply. Something, hand gestures, yelling back at the officers, something to let the officers know at least he's listening.

If he's not, if he's not responding in any way, that kind of ups the ante doesn't it. There is certainly the possibility that we could be dealing with a person who is legally deaf. In California totally deaf people can drive a car. He may not hear what the officers are saying to him. That complicates things for officers. He may just choose not to respond to them.

In past situations like this -- I recall one with the L.A. County sheriff's department, where they were able to use one of the robots to take a phone, a hard line phone up to the suspect just to get the suspect to pick up the phone and talk to one of the crisis negotiators to try and find out what his problem is and why he's not submitting...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever the language though, whether he is deaf or speaks only Spanish or Korean, you have four black and whites on you. It's a good guess that they want to you come out, but he's not complying.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's true too. And the trouble the officers don't know why he's not coming out. They don't know if it's a language problem. If it's a problem with hearing. They don't know if he's just being obstinate, saying I am going to sit here as long as I can because as long as I am here, I am not handcuffed on my way to jail.

So there is any number of things, and the officers are factoring all this in. At the same time, something else is taking place. There's a CHP supervisor there. I'm sure they are formulating a tactical plan in case the suspects should suddenly come out of the car, what the supervisor would be doing is designating an officer or maybe two officers, if the suspect comes out and threatens them, those two officers -- one or two officers -- would be the only officers to use force.

You don't want four or five or six officers opening up all at the time same time. He would designate other officers as part of the arrest team and clear the car. So all of that is taking place, too. Because it's being dragged out, this favors the officers because they can talk about those things ahead of time. They can formulate that plan in their own mind.

WOODRUFF: We are keeping one eye on the car chase situation in Los Angeles, whereas you can see the driver of that car has stopped, but he's now followed by four California Highway Patrol cars. We are watching that situation very closely.