Officers justify deadly police chase in San Marcos

San Marcos police identify passenger killed in crash

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A driver, who police say refused to pull over for a traffic stop, and a passenger are dead following a fiery crash Monday morning in San Marcos.

This is the second deadly police chase in two months.

Police say it happened around 3 a.m. when an officer tried to stop a suspected impaired driver near the Rio Vista neighborhood when the driver speed off.

The driver slammed into the landscaping in the middle of a roundabout at the intersection of Cheatham and Rio Vista Streets.

The vehicle burst into flames on impact with the landscaping.

Both the driver and the passenger were pronounced dead at the scene.

“We heard screeching coming from over here and we heard the impact like it was a fire cracker,” said a neighbor who heard the crash. “Boom, and then another boom…it was kind of scary to have it so close to home.”

But did officers put the people in this neighborhood in danger by deciding to chase the suspects in the first place?

“Generally that type of pursuit is allowed as long as danger doesn’t become unreasonable,” said Assistant Police Chief Chase Stapp.

San Marcos police say because it happened in the middle of the night, traffic was not heavy and people were asleep. “If there was heavy traffic on the roadway it would’ve been up to officers pursing the car and his supervisor to make the call on whether to terminate it,” Stapp said.

Investigators say the driver was going as fast as 60 mph before the crash happened.

Just last month San Marcos police were chasing a man on his motorcycle when he lost control and crashed. He also died. In both cases police say it was justified.

The passenger has been identified as 43-year-old San Marcos resident Charles Lee Crayton. Police have not yet identified the driver.

The San Marcos Police Department tells us when it comes to the pursuit policy they evaluate it on a case-by-case basis.

In Depth: Police Chases in Austin

The wife of an innocent bystander killed during a police chase is in the process of suing the city.

James Williford was killed two years ago at the intersection of Ben White Boulevard and Packsaddle Pass in South Austin. Police say a car thief ran a red light while trying to get away from officers. Reynaldo Hernandez crashed into the car Williford was driving and killed him.

Williford’s widow is now suing the city for more than a million dollars. She says the officers involved were reckless because they were putting others at risk.

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