Pursuit in the incident that led to fatality not high-speed, police say

City councilwoman says that she wants an independent investigation

July 19, 2005|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer was not in a high-speed pursuit of a driver in a stolen car that crashed into another vehicle Sunday, killing a 45-year-old woman, according to a police report released yesterday.

Police had been on the lookout for the car, which had been reported stolen from an Ellicott City home over the weekend and had been used, authorities said, in a hit-and-run of a city police officer.

The police report states that Officer Claude Torres spotted the black Toyota Camry in the 1300 block of Holbrook St. in East Baltimore on Sunday afternoon. Torres followed the car for about three blocks without turning on his cruiser's lights or siren, the report says.

The car turned off Holbrook Street and went south on Eden Street, where Torres then activated the patrol car's lights and siren to pull over the driver, the report says. The car accelerated quickly and sped south, crashing five blocks away at Eden and Madison streets. The report says that Torres was at Eden and East Eager streets, two blocks north, when the accident occurred.

The stolen car struck a Hyundai Sonata driven by Gregory Broadnax, 49, and carrying his wife, Cheryl Broadnax, 45, and their daughter, Serena Broadnax, 22.

All three family members were taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Cheryl Broadnax was pronounced dead. Her husband remained in fair condition yesterday, a hospital spokeswoman said. An update on the daughter's condition was not available, and family members could not be reached for comment.

After the crash, the driver of the car tried to run away, but he was caught and arrested.

Steven R. Craft, 49, of the 5600 block of Loch Hill Road in Baltimore County was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the report.

Belinda Conaway, a city councilwoman, called yesterday for an independent investigation of police-pursuit policies, followed by a public hearing.

"We keep hearing that the policy is no high-speed chases through residential areas, but we also hear about these chases taking place," Conaway said in a statement. "It is too dangerous."

Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman, reiterated that the department has a "no-pursuit policy" involving high-speed chases.

"But that doesn't mean we won't follow," she said. She said the officers use a combination of radio communications and the police helicopter to follow vehicles.

Police said Craft faces attempted-murder, stolen-vehicle, and traffic-related charges in the Saturday incidents. The officer who was struck Saturday was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Monroe said the department will refer the results of the investigation into the crash involving Broadnax's death to the city state's attorney's office for a determination of charges.

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