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Dog Ends Car Chase

Aired May 6, 2002 - 15:37   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Now we want to take you back to the area just north of Los Angeles where a car that gave chase now has four California Highway Patrol cars behind him. The situation has been static for about the last 10 minutes. Highway patrol went with their guns drawn behind, crouched behind their doors and evidently so far the driver of the car you see here in the center of the screen has not emerged from the car after giving chase for well over 90 minutes. Let's listen a little bit more to live coverage in California.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There is no traffic northbound, nor-south bound on the I-5 freeway and as you can imagine, traffic is stacking up.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And whoever is on the P.A. system his or her job is simply to repeat over and over again, telling the suspect he doesn't have any choice. He is going to go to jail. He has no options except to...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Now the car is headed off.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Now he drives away.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We thought he may have ran out of gas but no, now he's.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So much for speculating on these high- speed pursuits.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You just never know.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It looks like he's accelerating away at a relatively high speed. So what we may see -- the CHP step up the ante here and do some sort of pursuit intervention here. Thinking that the car was disabled they had it stopped. That was good for them. Even though he was barricaded. Now he's taken off at a relatively very high rate of speed here. What he's doing is he's going to put a lot of innocent people back in harm's way.

So we will have to see, if he slows down again, if he tries that again whether or not the highway patrol will up the tactics and maybe try and spin him out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: With no traffic on the northbound at least for now, I mean -- wow, could they do the spike strips here? UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The problem with the spike strips -- see how wide the freeway is? It would be very easy for the suspect to drive around it. Plus getting that thing across the lanes even one or 2 lanes from the left or right they would have to do it in an area where there's shade otherwise the suspect would clearly see it. In an underpass would be a perfect place to do it because it obviously would stand out on the roadway. So they have to have some sort of overpass and doesn't look like there's a lot of them in this area.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Not on this stretch of the 5 Freeway. Again near Foretahone (ph) we are north of Labeck and we have black and whites trying to catch up here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Those are still CHP black and whites in the pursuit at this point, or certainly close behind the primary units would be county sheriff's deputies as well and perhaps even members of the Kern (ph) County special weapons team.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: For folks just joining us, this pursuit has been going on for better than two hours. Started at 10:37 as I look at the clock. It's 10:40. Began more than two hours ago in Rancho Cucamonga. This suspect failing to yield to officers.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It appears that he's slowing down again, Jean. This is a situation where the CHP would have to take into consideration whether or not this would be a good time to roll up on them and try and spin him out and disable that car.

That's one thing that they have available to him. The other of course is to continue like we have seen here for the last two hours and follow the suspect at a safe distance and let him dictate when he's going to submit to arrest and go to jail.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What's the grade like there? Are we still on the ascent?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I honestly can't stay say. It's difficult from the helicopter so maybe sky Fox can tell us if they are uphill or downhill at this point. But if he has made the grade, it would certainly be easy enough for him to coast down, but he accelerated away very, quickly and now speeds have dropped down again dramatically.

There's something else that I failed to mention and that is suicide by cop. There's a lot of these people that have a death wish or want to die and they want the police to be the ones to shoot and kill them and so the police officers have to factor that in, too. If he got out of the car and said something like shoot me, shoot me, shoot me, now they are dealing with somebody that is perhaps suicidal or emotionally unstable to the point that they want the life to be ended.

But they don't want to do it and want the police to do it. The police aren't in the business of doing that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Hey, Rod, Port Tahone CHP has taken over and Mark Rhodes with Port Tahone is joining us on the phone right now. Officer Rhodes, are you there?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well apparently not.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Apparently not. Again our understanding is the CHP officers with Port Tahone has taken over the pursuit here and that's what we are looking at here -- the 5 north bound.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It looks like they are still on the uphill side of the summit. From Port Tahone then it drops down into the Bakersfield area.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK, we lost our signal there but...

WOODRUFF: We have been watching live coverage from California for a while. We were listening to KTTV television and now we are listening to KCAL, KCAL in the Los Angeles area.

We just heard them say that this car is moving north on Interstate 5, north of Los Angeles. I believe I have that correct. The chase started a little more than two hours ago. The car with no license plates missing a hood caught the attention -- you see it the driver driving a little bit more erratically now, moving from one lane to another.

He is at this point -- or she -- is being followed by four California Highway Patrol cars and at this point the interstate has been cleared pretty much for this car, not wanting to risk any more life or limb than they can possibly avoid doing. We are going to listen a little bit more. Again this is KTTV in Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: ... the trucks start to use the lower gears.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Right, you can really go down that grade pretty fast.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Again, explanations for irrational behavior like weaving across the lanes, starting and stopping, sitting in the car, getting out, yelling at the officers, then driving away again, all of these erratic things, most people are sitting here looking at this saying, I just don't understand why this guy is doing that.

Well neither do the police. Remember, his actions are dictating what the actions of the of the officers are going to be and their primary concern is innocent people and even the suspect. Clearly they want to make sure that their officers don't get hurt either.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's a great wide shot from Sky Fox. You can see there's not much in the way of options for this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It looks like he took a road off to the left there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Looks like the ramp. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's a truck escape ramp designed for trucks who lose their breaks. If he keeps going in that -- OK, he's not going to be able to drive out of that.

Those are for semi-tractor trailers. They are filled with a deep hole filled with gravel and if the truck loses its breaks, then they go into that and help stop the tractor-trailer. So I don't think he is going to be able to drive out of that. But again -- now we are back into this barricaded suspect situation.

But the good news here is they are in a place where they may not have to stop the south-bound traffic. It's a little difficult to guess whether or not they might stop the northbound traffic. Probably.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Again, this is the runaway truck ramp on the 5 freeway. You have all these officers who have converged on the vehicle once again so the pursuit that turned into a barricade situation and resumed the pursuit is now in a barricade situation with the suspect again.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's interesting that he chose to go into that gravel pit because there is no driving out of that for him. I say that and watch, 15 minutes from now he'll drive out of it. But that's helpful for the officers because that is a rather isolated area so from a shooting standpoint, they have to consider what their background is.

If they have a safe background then they can return fire. Remember officers, even though they are being shot at, they have to be cognizant of what is in the background not wanting to hit innocent people. So that's something they would have to factor in. Here we go again. This becomes a stand off. As the suspect sits there in the truck runaway lane.

What happens with big rig trucks and some smaller trucks for that matter, they have electric brakes and when going down the steep hills, the brakes heat up to the point that they are no longer functioning or they actually catch fire. And so the Cal-Trans came up with this idea of using these runaway truck lanes that are just simply big holes in the ground filled with gravel and ultimately the trucks are stopped that way. As long as the driver can keep it running straight, then that will slow them down. That's what he's sitting in now. Notice the CHP officers didn't drive directly into it.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Officer going across the other side he has a K-rail there to try and take a position of advantage there as a good cover and good concealment there. And may use that K-rail to walk up on it. We don't know. So it doesn't look like south bound will be affected. Northbound traffic may or may not be affected. More than likely they will keep northbound stopped but southbound won't be affected because there's a mountain or certainly a hill...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They are on a completely different grade, the northbound and south bound lanes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. Between the suspect and the officers, so south bound traffic shouldn't be affected.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So you are looking at a live picture here of this pursuit. We are along the grapevine on the northbound 5, this suspect has now run into the runaway truck ramp there off the 5 freeway. Officers have taken their positions behind their open car doors. They have their guns drawn and no doubt yelling at the suspect, ordering him to get out. Of course he never complied the last time we found ourselves in this situation just north of La Beck on the 5.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You know one of the things that marks a good officer who is ready for just about any situation is he or she will have all the equipment they feel they might necessarily need in the course of their day, a lot of the CHP officers will carry binoculars with them.

In a situation like this it would be a valuable tool for the officers to have to get an idea what the suspect is doing inside the car. First thing they are going to be concerned about, do they see any weapons. Can they actually see a weapon. The officers -- that would be the first concern.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And if indeed there is just one individual in the car. Still he has just been guessing there's one person.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Right. Is there more than one person. What's his behavior. Is he talking, pounding on the wheel. Anything to indicate they are dealing with an irrational person. All of that is very, very important information for the officers at the scene right now to know, and it is even as important if not more important for the S.W.A.T. officers and the crisis negotiators to know when they ultimately get on scene, because they will, unless the guy somehow manages to drive of this runaway truck lane, this gravel pit, really, is what it is, unless he's able to drive out of it, this is going to be a barricaded suspect situation until he decides he's going to give it up or the S.W.A.T. officers may be forced to try to resolve this in some tactical fashion and the object there of course is to minimize the threat to themselves, but also minimize the threat to the suspect. Door is opening. So now it's closed.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We have seen this behavior already.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Again, it's going to be pretty warm in that car. Even with the windows car, it's a dark car and absorbing a lot of sunlight. And even though it may be a cool outside temperature, sitting still in a dark car like that on a bright sun shiny day it will be very warm in that car.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All right, better location for you here. We have this runaway truck lane that's just south of where the grapevine begins there on the northbound 5 freeway. Fortunately it doesn't look as though this barricade situation will be affecting south bound traffic on the 5 freeway, but folks headed north, we got ourselves a wait.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's difficult to see from our picture because it's two dimensional but it almost likes like there's hills on both sides of that truck, runaway truck lane, gravel pit, there. If that's the case, the CHP has the option of opening up those northbound lanes. Obviously they are going to keep this area isolated, or if they feel for the safety of innocent people that the best thing to do unfortunately is to delay the trip and keep them bottled up, back away from the scene, that's the decision they are going to make.

You can see how long that run away truck lane is. If I recall this geography correctly, it's probably about a seven or eight percent grade coming down, so if you figure a 40 foot tractor-trailer loaded with 40,000 pounds of weight trying to stop that at 60 or 70 miles an hour, it's going to take a lot of gravel and a lot of distance.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Again it goes up the hill again then to also slow down.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But we are hearing that the south bound lanes are open to traffic. They had to shut it down for a bit in our earlier barricade situation just north of La Beck, but traffic resumed on the south bound on the 5 now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The reason they shut south bound side down is because of the lack of cover and the fact that innocent people would be driving past and again, the officers background is very, very important because if the suspect engages in a gunfight, they have to be able to return fire safely and this situation what they are probably looking at probably is the hillside there. Doors open again. Looks like he's out of the car and hopefully he's talking to the officers. Hopefully.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At some point the officer will be able to convince him, look -- no he just got back in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The door open and then closed. He doesn't stay outside very long.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Looking like they opened traffic on the northbound side so they felt it was safe now to allow traffic to continue northbound, not inconveniencing thousands of people but they could do so safely so that people driving past this scene aren't going to be put in harm's way so the CHP elected to allow the freeway to open.

Now if this continues on and is handed over, barricaded suspect is handed over to the Kern County sheriff's department then it will be up to the commander for the sheriff department S.W.A.T. team to decide if he wants the traffic open or not. All of that is being talked about. All of that is being discussed. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You made a good point about how hot it is out there along the grapevine. It's a black car. It's hot out there. Maybe that's why he keeps opening the door, getting out, get some fresh air, get back in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. At some point we may see him start to shed clothing as well. It is going to get uncomfortable. That's good news for the officers. The more uncomfortable he gets -- now it looks like the door is opening again. Looks like he's stepping out. If he's going comply, we'll see him walk to the back of the car. Back towards the sound of the officer voices. Looks like he's staying right by the car.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Right there by the door.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And again the reason we are staying so wide on this is that if this does end in gun battle we want to make sure that, you know, sensibilities a little are maintained here and so we will stay wide as we continue to cover the barricade.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All right. We have got all these units there close by along that runaway truck lane. Now actually some people might be wondering why don't the officers scoot up ahead of the vehicle so they can fully surround this guy, Rod.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You end up in a crossfire at that point. You don't want officers directly behind him or in front of him. You don't want to subject those officers to a crossfire if there is a gun fight. So what they will do is, the best way to explain it is up range and down range. When you are firing a gun, you are down range -- you are up range, I should say, confusing my self -- whereas if you go down range that means you are on the wrong end of the gun and the bullet. So the officers are going to stay well up range.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's easer to keep track of it this way.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's easier to keep track of your officers when they are all on one side here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Again there's a tactical plan that is already formulated. It may be changing a little bit here and there but there's a supervisor down there and senior officers and they are all working together. They are All putting their collective experience and training into one big pot there and deciding how they are going to handle this, who is going to be responsible for what situation. Who its going to do what. Who is not going to do what.

All of that is being factored in as the officers go about trying to resolve this. Again they will probably having the same person that was talking to him on the P.A. system before still talking to him. And again essentially what he's saying to them is it's all over. Give it up. You are going to jail, you don't have any options here...

WOODRUFF: We are watching what has been a car chase in the Los Angeles area. It started were two hours and 15 minutes ago in the San Bernardino area. That car you see, in the lane there on the left part of the screen, a car without license plates, without a hood, attracted the attention of California Highway Patrol. They followed it for a good 90 minutes to two hours north, basically going north through the Los Angeles area.

They are now just off of what's called the Interstate 5 and the driver has been in and out of the car and he's being watched, as you can see very closely by four patrolmen and four California Highway Patrol cars but at this point he has not come out. Again this started a little more than two hours ago in the San Bernardino area. They are now north of Los Angeles.

We don't have an exact location. We do know that the officers have had their guns drawn. The driver stopped at one point, paused a few moments and then continued going and now he is stopped once again. His options look pretty limited at this point. We are told this is a pull off, an uphill pull-off lane that large tractor trailers use, but we are watching and we will continue to watch this until there is some resolution.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This began at 10:37 this morning in the Rancho Cucamonga area at the corner of Rochester and Arrow when officers tried to pull this guy over and the suspect failed to yield and so officers began chasing this guy down and CHP took over the chase, this pursuit at 10 minutes after 11:00 and we have CHP officers here now still waiting it out. Suspect just got out of his car. He's being told what to do, but hasn't been so great about complying.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He's actually being ordered what to do by the officers. Telling him that you have to surrender. You have to get out of the car. You have to submit to surrender. Now the door is open again. You can see the driver standing by the side of the open door -- open car with the door.

Hopefully at this point communicating to the officers. Talking to them. Perhaps telling them why he's not surrendering. The officer would be talking back and answering him, not lying to him in any way, just let him know if he has problems all he's going to do is make it worse. If he's afraid of arrest, he doesn't really have choice in that matter. He's going to jail. But they would also be telling him that it can only get worse from here. At least at this point he's wanted on a misdemeanor evading and reckless driving and few other charges and things that we may not know about, but certainly if this goes on, the chances of it ending badly for him, as opposed to it ending badly for the officers is substantial. They will be telling him that, that he is going to go to jail one way or another.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If you are headed out and you have to take the 5 freeway, south bound lanes are wide open. Northbound though, you can see it's pretty slow going. I don't believe that traffic has been shut down at the 5 northbound. That's not our understanding right now however you can imagine all that activity. You have all this gawkers, they are all rubber necking, seeing what is going on here. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's an unfortunate thing here in the southern California here. People may not realize until they get home and see this on the Fox 11 news at 10:00 o'clock that they drove past the situation it could easily have turned into a gun battle, and they slowed down to look. Not realizing what danger they were putting themselves in.

He's out of the car now. He walked out and looked like he bent down on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That was a canine unit was it? It looked like a dog.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's possible. They may have sent a canine unit up there with the door open. The dog would bite the suspect and the handler would come up on the car. One or two of officers would have the weapons drawn. The canine officer would order the dog out and -- right there, you just saw that -- the canine officer took charge of the dog.

Two or three or however many CHP officers it's going to take to grab hold of this guy and get him out. They are concerned most about his hands. That's what they have to be worried about, other officers are worried about his legs from kicking the other officers.

This should be over here shortly. Good tactic on the part of probably Kern County sheriff's deputy, have the canine go up and the suspect had the car open. The dog bit the suspect and the officers were quick behind him, noticed the officers approach from the right to try and clear the car before the other officers got up there. Just to ensure that there wasn't more than one suspect in there. A very very disciplined effort and despite the fact that he is probably going to be pretty uncomfortable with a dog bite, which by the way almost always becomes infected, he is going to be facing a lot of questions and a lot of charges.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That was a great strategy though, Rod, like you pointed out. To see the suspect, it looks as though he is coming out and then he turns around and says no, I think I am going back in and that is when...

WOODRUFF: We have watched the, what appears to be the resolution of a car chase that has gone on for almost two and a half hours in the Los Angeles area. It just resolved just a couple of minutes ago when the person driving that car started to walk away from the car and the CHP sent a dog over which may have bitten the man and then he was surrounded and you see him now being walked to the California Highway Patrol cars.

Evidentially no one was hurt. The worst, apparently, may have been a dog bite. That is all we know at this point. I am Judy Woodruff in Washington. We are going to take a break. When we come back, INSIDE POLITICS.




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