The family of a woman killed in a police pursuit in Cherokee County is suing the city of Gaffney.
According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Lori Michelle Walker, 38, died May 8, 2015, after a chase involving a motorcycle and a Gaffney police officer. Walker was riding on the back of the motorcycle behind Roger Kirby, 29, who was driving. Kirby died from his injuries several days later.
Spartanburg-based attorney Pat Knie, who is representing Walker’s family, said the police pursuit was dangerous and should never have taken place.
He said police stated they had spotted the motorcycle driving erratically, and engaged in a pursuit. Knie said the circumstances didn’t warrant a chase.
“There’s a natural human reaction that says, ‘Well, I’ve got to catch this person. He’s running from me, I’m not backing down,” Knie said.
City of Gaffney attorney James Taylor said he couldn’t comment on the pending litigation.
“We have turned that over to our legal council and I have no comment further than that,” he said.
The suit lists Officer Roger M. Hadden as the officer who led the pursuit.
Vehicle pursuits are addressed in the Gaffney Police Department’s Operation of Police Vehicles general order, according to documents obtained from the department.
While the policy states “each pursuit has different factors” that can’t all be addressed by general guidelines, it does state that the “the foremost thought in an officer’s mind must be safety.”
The policy goes on to state that pursuits are only justified when the need to arrest a suspect outweighs the level of danger of the pursuit.
All law enforcement officers receive training on pursuit practices at the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy, said Maj. Florence McCants, a spokeswoman for the academy.
“You’ve got to look at the bigger picture, the ramifications of a chase. If you take the life of someone because of a chase, is it a chase you could have avoided? Could you have obtained a warrant and gotten the person at a later date?” McCants said.
The suit says Kirby was accelerating to “extremely high speeds,” changed lanes and ran numerous red lights.
Knie said Walker, as a passenger, was at the mercy of the motorcycle driver’s actions.