Monday, October 1, 2007

22-Year-Old Killed in Tampa

Early last Wednesday 22-year-old Steven Cornell was killed when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by man who was fleeing from police by driving the wrong direction on I-275. This tragedy is even more shocking when considering the suspects past and the events that led to the death of Steven. Read the Tampa Tribune article HERE.

It turns out this was not the first time Charles Hicks had run from police. In fact, this is not the first time he had driven the wrong way on Interstate 275.

Here starts the list:

  • In 1999 he was convicted of fleeing and eluding after driving on the wrong side of the road towards a police vehicle.
  • In May, 2001, he was again charged with fleeing and eluding after speeding and running several stop signs.
  • August, 2001: A suspect in a second-degree murder, Hicks once again ran from police, this time up the exit ramp of I-275. A jury acquitted him of second-degree murder but served 5 years for a series of other crimes.
  • And, of course, we have the events of last week. I'll quote the Tampa Tribune:

Early Sunday, the Ford Escort he later crashed made a U-turn and drove directly at a police officer after the officer had tried to pull the car over, Proffitt said. The officer swerved to avoid the car, then chased it - only to pull off once the Escort started driving into oncoming traffic along 34th Street, Proffitt said.

Then on Wednesday, at about 2:06 a.m., the Escort raced toward an officer's squad car on 18th Avenue South, Proffitt said. The officer, Kevin Sullivan, swerved to avoid being hit and radioed in a description of the car.

Within a minute or two, Sullivan and a second officer, Brian Burton, spotted the Escort stopped in traffic lanes with its lights off on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. The officers turned on their lights and sirens to pull the Escort over, but it sped off into a neighborhood and they decided not to chase it, Proffitt said.

A short time later, Burton saw the Escort emerge from a side street and start coming toward his squad car, switching into the officer's lane in what appeared to be a deliberate drive toward a head-on collision, Proffitt said.

Burton swerved and braced himself for the impact but the Escort swerved at the last minute, narrowly missing the cruiser, Proffitt said.

The officer made a U-turn and started chasing the car, remaining in pursuit until it drove toward Interstate 275. There, the Escort went up the exit ramp and barreled north on I-275 in the southbound lanes, Proffitt said.

Burton immediately pulled off because continuing the chase would have been a violation of a department policy that prohibits pursuit while driving the wrong way, Proffitt said. The officer made a U-turn and entered I-275 on the northbound lanes hoping to keep track of the Escort, Proffitt said. Burton and other officers soon came upon the crash, near the 31st Street overpass. They found the Camry driven by Mary Cornell hanging off the edge, Proffitt said.

From the article, and I don't want to draw conclusions without all the facts, it appears that L.E. did their job correctly. It seems like our legal system let us down here...


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