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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Houston Faces Lawsuit over the Killings of Innocent Bystanders During Police Chases

The suit alleges that Houston police target Black drivers and endanger the Black community.

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Image for article titled Houston Faces Lawsuit over the Killings of Innocent Bystanders During Police Chases
Screenshot: ABC 13 News (Fair Use)

Three families have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Houston alleging the police department repeatedly engages in reckless car chases that take the lives of innocent bystanders, per ABC 13 News. The suit claims there’s a correlation between the number of deadly police chases and the Black neighborhoods where they seem most often to occur.

Michael Wayne Jackson, 62, was killed last December by Houston police officers in a hit-and-run as they were responding to the end of a car chase. Another innocent man died after being rear-ended by a 16-year-old police-chase suspect just days later. And yet another innocent man died as a result of a car crash with a suspect fleeing the police. Attorney Mike Doyle combined these three tragedies to prove that Houston police officers engage in unconstitutional practices and are essentially liable for these innocent deaths, the report says.

“Innocent citizens are getting killed and injured again and again, because there’s police chases that shouldn’t be happening that keep happening, and they’re continuously approved instead of stopped,” Doyle said via ABC13.

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Read more about the suit from ABC 13 News:

“Innocent citizens are getting killed and injured again and again, because there’s police chases that shouldn’t be happening that keep happening, and they’re continuously approved instead of stopped,” Doyle said.

Doyle said he will use data from the Houston Police Department to argue the city is liable for these deaths in court. Reached by phone, City Attorney Arturo Michel questioned whether the deaths are similar enough to prove a pattern.

“The City of Houston has no evidence that any policies or procedures are unconstitutional,” Michel said. Both sides may have an opportunity to make their case before a judge as soon as next fall.

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The concern over fatal police chases was also brought forth by the ACLU of Texas and Texas Civil Rights Project earlier this summer. According to the Texas Tribune, the groups previously requested federal intervention into Operation Lone Star, a border security operation that claimed the lives of more than 30 people by deadly car chases. In this case, the state Department of Public Safety was accused of racially profiling Latinx individuals.

On a grander scale, many states experience a remarkable number of fatalities as a result of police chases. Data from the Tennessee Highway Patrol found that since 2017, 68 people have died and 250 were seriously injured as a result of police pursuits, per WBIR News. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found North Carolina recorded a 24-year high of 16 fatal police chases in 2020 alone.

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We could sit here all day going through statistics state by state. If change comes from Doyle’s suit on behalf of those Houston families, it could set a nationwide example.