DETROIT (WWJ) – Two Detroit police officers have been suspended after it was learned they were involved in a high-speed chase that led to the death of a 19-year-old man.
Police Chief James Craig told The Detroit News that the officers did not disclose the chase as recently as Tuesday morning, until he pressed them for details. The officers also failed to tell dispatch they were in a chase, which topped speeds of 100 miles per hour.
Department policy forbids chases of suspects unless they’re involved in a violent felony.
A vigil was held Tuesday night for Jerry Bradford Jr., who was killed during the chase.
The incident unfolded just after 10:30 p.m. Monday in the area of I-94 and Connor when police attempted to stop a Pontiac Grand Prix, but the car sped off. Craig told the newspaper there appears to be no initial reason for the officers to stop the vehicle.
“Officers can investigate suspicious behavior, but if someone decides to evade them, under our policy you cannot pursue them,” he said.
Although a police spokesperson initially told WWJ there was never a chase or pursuit, Craig says that’s not the case. The officers apparently chased after the fleeing Pontiac, themselves reaching speeds of 75 mph in a residential area.
The chase allegedly went on for several blocks until Bradford crashed head-on into another vehicle on Park Drive at Maiden Street. His vehicle then crashed into a tree and caught fire. Bradford was declared dead at the scene. The other driver received non-life threatening injuries.
As an internal investigation unfolds, the two officers involved have been suspended with pay. Craig told the newspaper he is going to ask the Board of Police Commissioners to withhold the officers’ salaries due to the “egregious nature” of the case.