This weekend's death of a 10-year-old, killed during a high speed pursuit in Douglas County, is the latest in a long list of similar tragedies.
The child died after his father, 30-year-old Billy Frazier, smashed their car into a semi-truck when he was driving away from Douglas County Sheriff's deputies. Billy and his son Quemontae, who was in the front passenger seat, were killed. Three other children were also in the car, ages 6, 5 and 3. None of them had seat belts on. Deputies were able to remove the other three children from the burning car and put out the fire. They were taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta with critical injuries.
Unfortunately, it's not the first time police chases have resulted in the loss of innocent lives. Almost two years ago to the day, Dorothy Wright and two of her grandchildren were killed when they were hit by a driver in a high speed chase with police. That driver got away and has never been arrested.
In another incident, a passenger died at the scene of a crash that resulted from a chase through East Point and College Park.
There are also plenty of examples of police officers getting hurt during a high speed chase.
According to Douglas County Sheriff's Office policy, a pursuit can only take place when there is a clear danger to the community, and one that is not outweighed by any danger that would come from the pursuit.
The policy says, in part:
Deputies will not begin and are expected to terminate a pursuit whenever the risk of his life or an innocent citizen outweighs the danger to the community, if the suspect is not immediately apprehended.
Deputies driving official unmarked vehicles, equipped with emergency lights and siren, may engage in a pursuit only when suspect(s) have committed or have attempted to commit a serious felony, or there is an immediate and direct threat to life. Whenever a properly marked vehicle joins the pursuit, the unmarked vehicle will withdraw, unless authorized to remain in pursuit by the shift commander, or other person having equal or greater rank, due to unusual circumstances.While in active pursuit, the headlights, siren, and emergency lights must be activated.
But Vince Champion with the International Brotherhood of Police Officers said there's a gray area, and deadly chases are a problem that law enforcement has yet to solve.
"This is a conversation that has been going on in law enforcement for as long as the 30 years that I've been there. No one has been able to come to a great solution at this point," Champion said.
"We only react in the way that we're trained," he continued. "If all we're trained is to pursue, then our subconscience takes over, and that's what we do."
11Alive asked Champion if he thought the officer knowing there were children in the car would have changed his mind in giving chase. While it may have played a factor, Champion called each decision to chase a double-edged sword.
"The other part of you wonders what happens if you do back off," he continued. "Because what happens when you have a criminal in (the car), and because we didn't pursue, he keeps killing people?"