Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a case involving an Arizona high-speed chase that ended with the driver being arrested and charged with several serious offenses, including aggravated assault, criminal damage, unlawful flight, and aggravated driving under the influence. At trial, the defendant wanted to introduce evidence that an officer involved in the case had been sanctioned for violating a police policy prohibiting an officer from engaging in a chase after witnessing only a traffic offense. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence may have been relevant to the case, but the lower court’s failure to admit the evidence was a harmless error.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, a police officer pulled over the defendant for a traffic violation. The defendant initially pulled over, but then drove off. The officer hopped back in his car and followed. The officer called in back-up as he chased the defendant.
The defendant continued to drive above the speed limit, and eventually drove into a residential neighborhood. The officer who initiated the traffic stop parked his car at the subdivision’s exit, to prevent the defendant from leaving. The defendant crashed into the officer’s car, got out of the car, and ran. He was later apprehended.