NAACP pushing for more action in preventing police pursuits following deadly crash

A police chase turned deadly in the St. Louis Metro is raising concerns among the public and organizations like the NAACP.
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 9:17 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A police chase turned deadly in the St. Louis Metro is raising concerns among the public and organizations like the NAACP.

“Far too often this is a story that we’re having,” said John Bowman. “[The suspects] are seldom injured in these cases. It always an innocent person.”

Bowman is the President of St. Louis County’s NAACP chapter. He says he has been working with the Department of Justice to get both city and county police jurisdictions to work on common solutions that reduce the need for pursuits.

“And I get we have some issues where crime causes police to try to do their jobs. And they’re trying to act in a way to eliminate a situation where someone has done something they should not have done,” said Bowman. “But at the same time, you’ve always got to be mindful of the innocent people that are put at risk, including the police officer.”

In this case, the deadly crash happened off of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Cora Avenue Tuesday evening, following a pursuit that started in North St. Louis County.

Suspects 30-year-old Javon Crawford and 28-year-old Adrianna Evans were allegedly stealing large amounts of laundry detergent inside the Dollar General off Halls Ferry Road. Crawford allegedly struck a manager there with a container of detergent to prevent the manager from stopping them.

The suspects took off in a Kia Optima and were chased by police all the way to north St. Louis City.

“Three adults and two children were inside of the suspect’s vehicle, one adult ran from the suspect vehicle and was taken into custody. Two adults and both children were conveyed to an area hospital,” said St. Louis Metropolitan Police during Wednesday’s crime briefing.

At this time, county police cannot confirm if the children have any relation to the adult suspects in the vehicle, but they are all in stable condition.

The suspects are all facing multiple charges including robbery, assault, and armed criminal action. 31-year-old Daryl Powell, the driver of the Kia that crashed and killed another person was also charged with second degree murder.

“Obviously, this is a regional issue. It doesn’t stop at either the county or city border lines,” said Bowman.

Since January 2022, St. Louis County police say they have initiated 77 pursuits. 34 percent of those ended with accidents ranging from blown out tires to more serious accidents. Overall, nearly 4,000 vehicles failed to yield during that time frame in the county.

A county police spokesperson tells News 4 in part:

“We pursue a very small fraction of vehicles that flee in relation to the vehicles we attempt to stop. We would prefer that drivers stop when we activate our lights and sirens, however, that is clearly not always the case.”

Yet, Bowman says there is still more that can be done.

“The DOJ has put together a consent decree, and the St. Louis County Police Department, from my understanding is ready to meet with me, the NAACP and to sign off on that,” he said. “But now we have a new police chief in St. Louis City, who I have been told is wanting to revisit it and look it over himself.”

While Bowman says he cannot share this consent decree publicly yet, he does emphasize that several things need to be adopted or improved within both jurisdictions. This includes creating an “amber alert” type system that notifies neighborhoods about a pursuit in progress, better training for officers on when to instigate a pursuit, and higher thresholds for when a pursuit shall be instigated.

“I will be reaching out to the chief of St. Louis County today to discuss whether or not we have to move forward with the portion that represents St. Louis County, until the chief at St. Louis City decides this is important enough, a priority enough to get it done immediately,” said Bowman.