SLMPD deployed spike strips in attempt to stop stolen car that killed four in North City crash
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - St. Louis Metropolitan police (SLMPD) say spikes strips were used to stop a stolen vehicle that was involved in a deadly crash Friday night, but they are not calling the incident a police pursuit.
“I want to say of course this was an extremely tragic event,” said St. Louis City Public Safety Director Dr. Dan Isom.
Isom answered questions from News 4 during today’s Downtown Public Safety meeting, including whether this crash, which killed four family members and critically injured three others, stemmed from police attempting to chase down a stolen Jeep Cherokee driving at fast speeds.
“As of right now, we don’t have any information that the officers were pursuing the vehicle, but they did try to deploy spike strips to stop the vehicle,” said Isom. “Just prior to the anti-crime unit engaging the car, it fired shots at a citizen in a vehicle and then the anti-crime unit attempted to deploy spike strips at Taylor and Delmar.”
However, the Jeep continued moving and eventually crashed into a minivan carrying seven people.
A spokesperson for SLMPD also affirmed the use of spike strips saying in part, “Officers were setting up to attempt a vehicle stop on the Jeep; however, due to its speed and officers being several blocks away, no pursuit or vehicle stop could be initiated before the Jeep was involved in the fatal crash.”
“I want every last video of that crash. I want it all. From when it started. I want body cameras. I want every single thing,” said Aaron Piggee, whose family members died in the crash. “I’m not going to stop until justice is served for my family because I have to bury them.”
Piggee told News 4 over the weekend his mother, sister and two uncles died in the crash. His 15-year-old daughter, and a 6-year-old and 10-year-old niece are still in the hospital.
“They need to get their terms. They cannot walk out here and be free and think nothing is going to happen. You commit a crime, there are consequences,” said Piggee about the three suspects who were driving in the stolen Jeep.
Isom said police identified the Jeep was stolen using license plate recognition. The car is also wanted for multiple crimes in other jurisdictions, but Isom did not elaborate on what those crimes are.
“We don’t know all the crimes at this time, but we know that it was wanted in several jurisdictions,” he said.
As of now, a 17-year-old male who was in the suspect vehicle is in custody and facing charges for tampering with a motor vehicle (a second-degree, class a misdemeanor), and unlawful use of a weapon - shooting at or from a motor vehicle, at a person or at a motor vehicle or at a building (a class B felony).
Another 17-year-old was initially taken into custody by police. He was released, according to the juvenile courts department, but he could still face charges.
As of Monday afternoon, police say the driver of the car is still at large.
“Whether or not these detectives had body-worn cameras, I’m not sure at this point in time,” said Isom. “But, certainly, there will be video footage somewhere along the way and that will be a part of the investigation.”
Piggee told News 4 he is also holding police partly responsible for his family’s death.
This is the third incident in over two weeks where either city or county law enforcement has been in the process of apprehending a suspect vehicle, all within city limits, and other people have died as a result.
“Do y’all even care, or you don’t care,” said Piggee. “So, I won’t stop until I get justice.”
Police are not calling this incident a police pursuit, but Isom did speak about the protocol involved in making a determination when to conduct a pursuit.
“Most police departments try to restrict vehicle pursuits to the most serious incidents, but that doesn’t mean that police departments don’t attempt to pull over cars that are wanted for a crime. So, it is a very difficult call to make in some of these situations. But in most cases, we try to, and other police departments try to restrict it to more serious incidents,” said Isom.
Isom added, “It doesn’t always occur that simply not pursuing people doesn’t necessarily result in the safety of all, but this is a tragic event and as always, we’ll evaluate what we’re doing to see how we could make it safe for everyone in the public.”
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