Patterico's Pontifications

6/19/2003

Michigan Riots

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

Interesting story in our local Dog Trainer this morning. Somewhere in Michigan, a white cop chased a black kid who was on a motorcycle. The kid crashed the motorcycle and died. That was sufficient for two days of rioting. Five buildings have been burned to the ground, including “one home belonging to a single father of five.” Police cars have been torched. Rocks and bricks were thrown at firefighters. A dozen people were stabbed or beaten. Another dozen were arrested. “Police and rioters exchanged gunfire, with one passerby wounded in the shoulder by a shot from the crowd.”

Lacking in the Dog Trainer story is any context. The story says the police chief will review the department’s pursuit policy, but the story never says why police were chasing the kid. The story implies that it was an expired license or registration issue, quoting a City Commissioner as saying: “We don’t believe that a person who doesn’t have a driver’s license, or tags not up to date, should die for that.”

Patterico is on the job. This story explains the pursuit as follows:

“The chase started in Berrien County’s Royalton Township, where a sheriff’s deputy spotted two high-performance motorcycles traveling north toward Benton Harbor on Michigan 139 at speeds surpassing 100 mph.

“The deputy briefly pursued the pair but stopped because of the motorcycles’ high speed. A short time later, Benton Township Patrolman Wes Koza witnessed one of the motorcyclists speeding and running stop signs, police said.

“Koza pursued the motorcycle into Benton Harbor, where it drove through yards, came back onto the street and ran more stop signs. The officer was several blocks back when Shurn’s motorcycle hit the building.

“Shurn’s speed in the residential neighborhood approached 70 mph at times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.”

According to this AP wire story: “Police said they did not know why Shurn fled from the officers, although his operator’s license had been suspended and officers found a small amount of marijuana on him, state police Lt. Joseph Zangaro said.”

This CNN story says: “Shurn’s uncle, Ralph Crenshaw, said the officers knew who they were chasing and could have picked up his nephew later without risking lives in a high-speed chase.”

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