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Detroit police chief: Pursuit that ended in fatal crash not justified

James Craig says he's looking into breaches in department policies

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DETROIT – Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he is looking into multiple potential department violations that happened Thursday during a pursuit involving a parole violator who crashed and killed an innocent person.

Craig said Friday he was looking at four or five "breaches" in department policies.

"Right now, there is no indication that the reason for the pursuit was justified," Craig said.

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Craig said the suspect's vehicle fled from a traffic stop in the city and a supervisor called off the chase. The suspect briefly went into Dearborn before returning to Detroit, where a second chase began.

"The vehicle fled, lost sight of the officers and struck a vehicle that was not involved at all. The unfortunate part is that the person driving that vehicle, here at Greenfield and Elmira, an innocent person in a vehicle, is a fatality," Craig said.

Police have not yet released the victim's name.

The suspect and a passenger in his car were treated for injuries at a hospital.

While it's department policy for a supervisor to monitor a chase, Craig said it's also up to the officer to determine why they are pursuing to begin with.

"Sometimes, I will tell you, it can be a gray area. If the officer believes a felony is being committed, certainly that warrants a pursuit. But you have to constantly evaluate the risk to public safety," Craig said.

Craig said the department has a strict policy regarding chases and he doesn't think anything about it needs to be changed -- only more enforcement and training on it.

"One loss of life is one too many," he said. "We're deeply sorry about what happened. Our work is high risk."

Craig said an arrest warrant for the suspect was issued in July for a weapons parole violation, and the suspect had a tether.

Craig said he's looking into why the suspect wasn't arrested before Thursday.

Read: Police: Innocent driver killed in crash involving parole violator