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  • Family blames police in vehicle chase in VA

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    Family faults police for deaths in Petersburg crash
    Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 - 12:09 AM

    By JUAN ANTONIO LIZAMA
    TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
    PETERSBURG -- The family of the driver who was killed with his friend after a police pursuit say they blame police for chasing them.
    "If [the officer] had the license plate, why was he pursuing?" said Cecil Winfield, the father of Javon Butts, the driver of the car. "To me, it is a wrongful death."
    Butts, 19, and passenger Donte Howlett, 18, were killed when the car crashed into some trees in the 2400 block of Defense Road on Tuesday at 1:27 a.m. A 16-yearold girl remains in critical condition at VCU Medical Center.
    Butts did not have a driver's license, his father said.
    Winfield said his son has never been in trouble with the law. "My son had no reason to run. He might have been a little nervous because he had no license," he said.
    The car Butts was driving belonged to his grandmother, Carolyn Butts, with whom he stayed sometimes. He took her to and from work, she said.
    Police should have made certain who the shoplifting suspects were and not assume that his son had committed a crime, Winfield said. "What [police] are saying happened doesn't add up."
    Police said Butts made a purchase at the 7-Eleven on East South Boulevard on Tuesday around the same time an officer was responding to a call of a possible shoplifting.
    Butts, a graduate of Petersburg High School, was driving a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire, which he almost backed into the officer's patrol car in the parking lot, police said. The officer assumed they were the suspects and ordered them to pull over, but Butts fled, driving up to 60 mph down the winding, two-lane Defense Road, police said. The speed limit is 25 and 35 mph.
    Police said the officer pursued from a distance. Butts crashed about 3 miles from the 7-Eleven. Butts was not wearing a seat belt, while Howlett was, state police said.
    Surveillance footage revealed Butts and his companions were not suspects in the shoplifting call, police said.
    "We regret any time tragedies occur when lives are lost," Petersburg Mayor Annie M. Mickens said in an interview yesterday. "But our police department responded in what we believe was the most appropriate manner."
    Esther Hyatt, a spokeswoman for the police department, said they have listened to the 911 tapes.
    "The chief [John Dixon III] believes the officer did everything within protocol," she said.
    Winfield and his family disagree.
    "It's hard to believe they did a high-speed chase," Winfield said.
    The family is devastated, said Shemikka Winfield, one of Butts' sisters.
    "We just need more answers as far as what happened," she said. "There are so many different stories."
    State police and Petersburg police are investigating the crash.
    "The family is very hurt and angry for this," said Lois Winfield, Butts' paternal grandmother.
    Winfield said police have not given him any details of what happened, and he had expected them to do so. He said he may have to go to them to get some answers. He is also asking people who might know something to give him a call.
    "I'd be satisfied if I can find out the truth," Winfield said.
    Butts'
    Contact Juan Antonio Lizama at (804) 649-65 or [email protected].

  • #2
    Originally posted by RPDnewGuy View Post
    Reactions...


    Family faults police for deaths in Petersburg crash
    Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 - 12:09 AM

    By JUAN ANTONIO LIZAMA
    TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
    PETERSBURG -- The family of the driver who was killed with his friend after a police pursuit say they blame police for chasing them.
    "If [the officer] had the license plate, why was he pursuing?" said Cecil Winfield, the father of Javon Butts, the driver of the car. "To me, it is a wrongful death."
    Butts, 19, and passenger Donte Howlett, 18, were killed when the car crashed into some trees in the 2400 block of Defense Road on Tuesday at 1:27 a.m. A 16-yearold girl remains in critical condition at VCU Medical Center.
    Butts did not have a driver's license, his father said.
    Winfield said his son has never been in trouble with the law. "My son had no reason to run. He might have been a little nervous because he had no license," he said.
    The car Butts was driving belonged to his grandmother, Carolyn Butts, with whom he stayed sometimes. He took her to and from work, she said.
    Police should have made certain who the shoplifting suspects were and not assume that his son had committed a crime, Winfield said. "What [police] are saying happened doesn't add up."
    Police said Butts made a purchase at the 7-Eleven on East South Boulevard on Tuesday around the same time an officer was responding to a call of a possible shoplifting.
    Butts, a graduate of Petersburg High School, was driving a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire, which he almost backed into the officer's patrol car in the parking lot, police said. The officer assumed they were the suspects and ordered them to pull over, but Butts fled, driving up to 60 mph down the winding, two-lane Defense Road, police said. The speed limit is 25 and 35 mph.
    Police said the officer pursued from a distance. Butts crashed about 3 miles from the 7-Eleven. Butts was not wearing a seat belt, while Howlett was, state police said.
    Surveillance footage revealed Butts and his companions were not suspects in the shoplifting call, police said.
    "We regret any time tragedies occur when lives are lost," Petersburg Mayor Annie M. Mickens said in an interview yesterday. "But our police department responded in what we believe was the most appropriate manner."
    Esther Hyatt, a spokeswoman for the police department, said they have listened to the 911 tapes.
    "The chief [John Dixon III] believes the officer did everything within protocol," she said.
    Winfield and his family disagree.
    "It's hard to believe they did a high-speed chase," Winfield said.
    The family is devastated, said Shemikka Winfield, one of Butts' sisters.
    "We just need more answers as far as what happened," she said. "There are so many different stories."
    State police and Petersburg police are investigating the crash.
    "The family is very hurt and angry for this," said Lois Winfield, Butts' paternal grandmother.
    Winfield said police have not given him any details of what happened, and he had expected them to do so. He said he may have to go to them to get some answers. He is also asking people who might know something to give him a call.
    "I'd be satisfied if I can find out the truth," Winfield said.
    Butts'
    Contact Juan Antonio Lizama at (804) 649-65 or [email protected].

    The incident was a tradgedy but not at all the fault of the police, even if they were pursuing the curfew violating unsupervised teens the blame lays with the person who runs and the parents that need to supervise their curfew violating children. Like I said it's a tradgedy but not even close to the departments fault. Might as well blame the car itself or the tree that split it in half. The blame game needs to start with taking responsiblity for one's own actions. period
    Last edited by Nightshift va; 07-24-2008, 04:53 PM. Reason: content
    "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The MARINES don't have that problem." ....Ronald Reagan

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    • #3
      In any and all pursuits, the pursuit is caused by the offender. I believe that bears repeating. All pursuits are caused by the offender. They are running because they are criminals period. Either they are a criminal and don't want to be stopped because of the activity they're involved in or they just became a criminal because they ran from the police. I am so tired of hearing how the police are to blame. We tell them to stop and they don't. Not our fault. If they continue to run it's still their fault. If they crash and injure or kill some, it's still the offender's fault. It is very simple. STOP.

      This kid would've gotten a ticket or a minor arrest and nothing more. Should there be limits on pursuits? Sure, why risk yourself or the general public. However, the offender still causes the pursuit. And whether or not you stop pursuing does'nt mean they'll stop driving in such a manner to prevent a crash. Quite frankly, anyone who runs from the police for whatever reason, is using deadly force against everyone else on the road. Why is that never brought up? I dont care if they're joyriding, the results are the same.

      Comment


      • #4
        The family's charges are indicative of the society we live in. Blame everyone except the person responsible.

        Comment


        • #5
          If the father wants an idea of what happened, maybe he should read the paper, but then again, it's probably not what he wants to hear. Denial is the first stage of recover after a tragedy.
          I am a Native American of non-Indian decent.

          Cleaning the pool, one gene at a time.

          I'm on a 30 day diet. So far I've lost 15 days!

          Comment


          • #6
            The driver was under no obligation to drive excessively fast and unsafely regardless of whether he was pursued by the police.

            Policies limiting police pursuits are intended for the benefit of bystanders and police officers, not those who willfully flee.
            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

            Comment


            • #7
              unbelieveable. this guy needs a reality check. i hate how people keep saying if they have the tag, why do they keep chasing. 90% of the pursuits that i have been involved in the tag did not come close to the driver. our society is going nuts.

              Comment


              • #8
                Wow. I have to save that article.

                Just wow.

                I bet if he was pointing a gun at the officers they should just shoot it out of his hand.
                "Why is common sense so rare?" - Me

                By the way.. They aren't "Clients" or "Customers" they're CRIMINALS... sheesh

                Comment


                • #9
                  I read it again.

                  Wow.

                  If I posted what I was thinking I'd get banned for sure.
                  "Why is common sense so rare?" - Me

                  By the way.. They aren't "Clients" or "Customers" they're CRIMINALS... sheesh

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 10-31Mike View Post
                    I read it again.

                    Wow.

                    If I posted what I was thinking I'd get banned for sure.
                    Yep me also.

                    Read what the parents said and one can tell why the driver was like he is.
                    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tunkle View Post
                      If the father wants an idea of what happened, maybe he should read the paper, but then again, it's probably not what he wants to hear. Denial is the first stage of recover after a tragedy.
                      I agree and you make a good point. Grief is a bear....total tragedy..god bless him with it. people act in different ways when faced with tragedy and death...
                      "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The MARINES don't have that problem." ....Ronald Reagan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
                        The family's charges are indicative of the society we live in. Blame everyone except the person responsible.

                        AMEN!!!!
                        sigpic

                        I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Excellent posts by PhillipCal, Tunkle and others.
                          It seems the parents didn't have much input into what this kid did on a regualr basis. So now, after he's dead, it has to be someone's fault. And since they didn't take responsibility for him while he was alive, why would anyone expect them to take responsibility now?
                          Let's just hope that, after the grief stage, the family accepts the actions were caused by their child.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Of course it's the police fault, who else is it going to be? Surely not the person who decided to elude at excessive speed and endanger the lives of police and civilians, that would just be selfish on their part. They need someone to blame, same way everyone in jail is innocent and didn't do anything wrong, the police just decided to lock them up for no reason.
                            sigpic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It amazes me how many times, when police are involved in shooting incidents, the number of morons that call the news, and ask why the police had to kill the offender. I hear comments like "Why didn't they just shoot him in the leg/arm/whatever?"

                              Yes, we do live in a society FULL of morons. THAT is what happens when you remove natural selection from a species. If morons were on the endangered species list, this would be such a good Nation to live in...
                              As far as "rights" are concerned; I look at them this way... I don't tell you what church to go to, and you don't tell me what kind of firearm I can own...

                              Comment

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