RPD says pursuit of SUV that caused fatal crash did not violate department rules

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Editor’s Note: Since this story was written, police released the identity of the victim and the suspect. Click here for that information.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As of Friday evening, police had still not released the name of the person who was hit and killed in Downtown Rochester early Friday morning.

The Rochester Police Department said the driver who hit the victim’s car was leading officers on a chase and is on parole.

Generally speaking, there is a no-chase policy in the RPD. But there are exceptions. RPD believes the driver fired a gun therefore pursuing him was proper.

The other exceptions include arson, burglary in progress or immediate flight therefrom, class "A" felony drug offenses, felony assault (or attempt to commit), felony criminal possession or use of a weapon, or menacing with a firearm, forcible rape/sodomy (or attempt to commit), kidnapping/unlawful imprisonment (or attempt to commit), leaving the scene of a personal injury motor vehicle accident, murder/manslaughter (or attempt to commit), and robbery (or attempt to commit). Click here to read it.

The chase ended in a crash Chief David Smith described as disturbing.

"I’ve seen a lot of accident scenes and this one was disturbing," Chief Smith said.

The situation started when police heard gunshots on Dewey Avenue and saw an SUV driving fast without headlights. Another shot was fired on Avenue A.

When police stopped the suspected SUV at Wilkins Street and Joseph Avenue, it drove away.

"Pursuit," radioed one officer. "Southbound Joseph. Passing Sullivan. Coming out Upper Falls."

According to the RPD radio calls, the SUV reached 50 miles an hour through the north side ending up on Goodman Street and then merging onto East Main Street.

An RPD supervisor radioed the officer leading the chase about his speed.

"What are your speeds?" the supervisor asked.

"Right now we’re at 60. Traffic is light. We’ve been slowing down at red lights," the officer answered. "Continuing westbound on East Main towards downtown."

Fifty seconds later, police say the SUV ran a red light at St. Paul and crashed into the victim’s car as it was crossing the street with a green light.

"Crash. Uh, MVA. Uh, Main and St. Paul," an officer radioed. "We’re still trying to catch up to it here. Roll me AMR."

In the RPD’s general order on chases it lists the crimes that, if police think they happened, they can chase. Among them is "menacing with a firearm."

RPD says they found bullet casings they believe came from the SUV.

"I have already watched all the body-worn camera [footage]. I have already seen the blue light camera footage. And at this time, all indicators are that there are no violations of our policy," Chief Smith said.

As of 5:30 p.m., RPD has not released the name of the SUV driver but they say he wears a parole ankle bracelet and he is known to them. RPD is using the GPS from the ankle bracelet to track the driver’s top speed.

In the coming hours and days, we expect to learn the suspect’s name and charges and what he’s on parole for, the victim’s name and video from police body cameras and police cameras stationed around the city.