Deadly wreck reignites questions about police pursuits

Police are still looking for one of the two people in the SUV. But authorities confirm the other man died.

A man is on the run and an accomplice is dead after an officer-involved chase ended in a crash over the weekend – and the crash is reigniting the debate over these pursuits.

The incident began as a chase involving Barrow County deputies and a gold Dodge Durango. A Georgia State Patrol trooper joined in on the chase intercepting the suspect and eventually performing a PIT maneuver on the vehicle.

Also known as a Pursuit Intervention Technique, the technique is designed to force a vehicle sideways so that the driver loses control and stops. In this case, it led to a crash and one of the men, 27-year-old Levi Weems, was killed.

His companion was able to run away.

Chases are often controversial, forcing law enforcement to decide whether the safety of the public is more in danger if the suspects escape. Attorney Steve Leibel has, over the years, represented both police officers and also people who sued police officers. Leibel said law enforcement officers, under the law, are given broad discretion to decide whether a chase is justified.

“They did try to use alternative means [Saturday night] in trying to stop the vehicle, but the suspects were still able to keep going” in their SUV, Leibel said, and the GSP trooper then used the PIT maneuver, which can be considered a use of deadly force. “When you run from police, you pay the consequences. Better thing to have done – don’t run from police.”

Now, investigators are checking dash cam video from the chase. They are also investigating why the chase began in the first place– why the Barrow County Sheriff’s deputy was trying to pull over the SUV. As for the man on the run, they are not yet identifying who he is as they try to find and arrest him.

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