NAACP concerned about deadly Missouri police pursuit crash
BEL-RIDGE, Mo. (AP) — The NAACP said it’s concerned after a passenger in a fleeing vehicle claimed she had to walk to get help when law enforcement didn’t respond to a deadly crash.
St. Louis NAACP officials and other prominent activists expressed their concerns at a news conference Monday, more than a week after the Nov. 1 crash that killed 18-year-old Lacey Schoster, of St. Charles, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Schoster is white, but the leaders say the issue transcended race.
Last week, passenger Brooklyn Leggitt, 19, of Edmundson, told the newspaper that a black police car had been chasing their Dodge Neon and that “nobody came” after the crash. Leggitt and another passenger walked to a gas station in Berkeley to call for help, Leggitt said, adding that she initially lied to Berkeley officers when they arrived at the gas station. She told them she and her friends had been carjacked.
Police Chief Mark Harris in nearby Bel-Ridge initially said Friday his review of dashcam video and other logs found no record of his officers being involved. But later Friday, Harris acknowledged he spoke with a sergeant who had been on duty the night of the crash and who confirmed he tried to stop a car going 90 mph with its headlights off.
Harris said the sergeant told him he stopped the chase and left Interstate 170 because the department allows chases only in felony cases involving crimes against a person. The sergeant told Harris he did not realize a crash had occurred.
But that didn’t match the account of three Berkeley officers who had been at the scene of an unrelated vehicle stop about a half-mile north of where the Bel-Ridge sergeant said he left the interstate. According to documents obtained by the Post-Dispatch, the three officers said they saw the pursuit pass them.
A call-for-service record the NAACP presented Monday confirmed the location of the stop. St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt said the explanation from Bel-Ridge seemed like a coverup.
“Why did it take so long for there to be more dialogue regarding the loss of life in this particular chase?” St. Louis County NAACP President John Bowman asked.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com