Baltimore County police officials are investigating whether an officer violated procedures in chasing a car several miles on West Baltimore streets early yesterday before it crashed on Edmondson Avenue, killing a teen-age passenger.
"We do have hot-pursuit authority," says E. Jay Miller, a county police spokesman. "Ours is a judgment call. It depends on the time of day, traffic conditions, weather and knowledge of offense. All of these things must be considered."
Ordinarily, the county police "as a matter of policy" discontinue pursuits once they enter the city because of the congestion, Mr. Miller says.
Mr. Miller says an internal investigation is under way to determine if the officer and his supervisor acted in accordance with pursuit policy.
Police supervisors can dictate when officers must discontinue a pursuit. At least four people already have been interviewed, Mr. Miller says. The officer involved in yesterday's pursuit says he discontinued the chase -- westbound at that point -- at Edmondson Avenue and Winans Way, some three blocks short of the crash scene.
But a state Division of Corrections employee has told investigators that he saw a county police car pass him at Nottingham Road -- a block west of Winans -- in "hot pursuit," using emergency lights and siren.
The passenger in the fleeing car, Raymond C. Wilson, 16, of the 3200 block of Gulfport Drive, was killed when the vehicle struck a curb in the 5000 block of Edmondson Ave., went airborne and crashed into several trees, says Sgt. Paul M. Blair of the city Traffic Investigation Section.
Sergeant Blair says the 1989 Ford Escort, driven by Jason Michael Guy, 18, was split in half by the impact.
Mr. Guy, who lives in the 5000 block of Hillburn Avenue, was treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released.
The intersection at which the crash occurred is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the city, police say. They say there have been a number of fatalities there in recent years.
Police say Mr. Guy has been charged with automobile man slaughter. He was being held at the Central District lockup awaiting a bail hearing.
The incident remains under review by the police, in consultation with the state's attorney's offices in both jurisdictions, and other charges were possible, authorities say.
Mr. Miller says the chase began about 1:45 a.m. when Officer Steven M. Petersen, of the Woodlawn precinct, spotted two cars speeding at Windsor Mill Road and Featherbed Lane, a few blocks from the station house.
As one of the vehicles sped off, Officer Petersen, a six-year veteran, gave pursuit at speeds that began at 45 to 50 miles an hour and quickly increased to more than 60 mph, the spokesman says.
Mr. Miller says "about five minutes into the chase the supervisor asked him [Officer Petersen] what the traffic conditions were like and he said they were as you might expect for that time of the morning -- light."
The chase continued east on Windsor Mill Road into the city to Walbrook Junction, police say.
Police say it then continued onto Bloomingdale Road and south on Poplar Grove Street to the 2900 block of Edmondson Ave. From there, it headed west on Edmondson Avenue for another 21 blocks before the driver lost control, police say.
The impact ejected the Wilson youth from the car. Mr. Guy had to be extricated from the wreckage, investigators say.