Bad Guys

By James Phillips
April 15, 2003

From a post, by Michael McCurdy, in the PursuitWatch guestbook and echoed by Dan Smith of Orlando. I thank them for their kind words and their posts. I must, however,  take exception with this line of thought. The logic seems clear enough, and, in fact this is exactly the statement put forth by many police officers as part of a justifaction of high speed pursuit. Events are rarely that simple and straight forward.

In the Phillips case it is true that if the bad guy (Shamir Suber) had not run from the sheriff that Sarah Phillips would still be alive today. But that is by no means the end of the story. There are several facts that complicate the incident:

1. The deputies knew that the road (Lacantossa) dead-ended in .9 miles at  a T-intersection at Rouse Road.

2. The deputies knew that there was another unit at the intersection (Radio Traffic audio) ready to deploy stop sticks.

3. The deputies at the intersection knew that the car approaching their position was no the suspect vehicle and yet they stopped her and made no effort to move her to safety

It took Sarah Phillips over 20 seconds to slow to a complete stop beside the police car, where she remained for 6-8 seconds, with her emergency brake activated, and the deputy who had deployed the stop sticks testified in his deposition that he was able to do nothing more than raise his right hand. He never moved from his position of safety.

(ref-FHP Homicide Investigation) Sarah was 170 feet from the intersection, and safety, and a mere 10 feet from safety in front of the patrol car. Did Shamir Suber kill my daughter? He most certainly did and I am very involved in seeing justice done in that case. If the Orange County deputies had not chased would Suber have slowed down? Maybe, maybe not. If the deputies had not chased would they have apprehended their suspect? Certainly. If the deputies had done their job properly would Sarah be alive today? Tragically-the answer to that question is yes.