NAACP requests meeting with St. Louis City, County police over pursuit policies

NAACP says seven people died in 18-day period dating back to April
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The St. Louis City and County chapters of the NAACP held a press conference Thursday asking to meet with the city and county police departments over pursuit policies.

The press conference was held at the intersection of Pendleton and Delmar in West St. Louis, where five of seven family members died in a car crash after a stolen vehicle collided with the vehicle they were in nearly two weeks ago, according to authorities.

NAACP St. Louis City President Adolphus M. Pruitt and St. Louis County President John Bowman sent a letter to St. Louis County Police Chief Kenneth Gregory and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief John Hayden a letter on Tuesday requesting a meeting.

“Far too often I find myself in situations where I’m either talking to a grieving family,” Bowman said. “And these are things we need to come up with solutions and change policies and implement different protocols on how we have police chases.”

Authorities confirmed that spike strips were placed before the incident at Pendleton and Delmar.

“And you lay those strips out and car moving at 80 miles per hour to 100 miles per hour,” Bowman added. “It has absolutely no control.”

Another man, Derek Pratt, died earlier in May when a driver trying to evade police took off from River City Casino Boulevard and hit his pickup truck on South Broadway.

Authorities confirmed the situation started in South County and then ended in South City. Witnesses at the scene told News 4 police deployed spike strips.

“Of course, a tremendously difficult time for the family,” Adam Altman said, a representative of Derek Pratt’s family. “We don’t know much at this time. We’re just hoping that the authorities do a thorough investigation.”

“It just comes down to them being more decisive on when they are thinking if this is a good time or good area or good intersection to make a decision,” said Brandon Bosley, a St. Louis alderperson and member of the city’s public safety committee.

Bosley told News 4 the policy is for officers to use discretion. He added technology like cameras and more officers patrolling roads helps, but he is open to suggestions on how to make pursuits/tactics safer.

St. Louis County told News 4 that Chief Gregory is willing to meet with the NAACP. Chief Hayden says he plans to meet with the NAACP next week.