Attapulgus woman killed in pursuit

Published 3:21 pm Monday, January 24, 2011

An Attapulgus woman died Saturday night after her car wrecked during a police pursuit, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Latricka Tearse Sloan, 32, of Attapulgus, was driving her Chevrolet Impala on East Griffin Street in Attapulgus while being pursued by a state trooper, who used a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT maneuver) in an attempt to stop her. Ms. Sloan’s car ran into a ditch, struck a culvert and flipped over. She was not wearing a seat belt, according to a GSP news release.

Sloan was taken to Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge, where she later died from injuries sustained in the crash.

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According to Sgt. Marc Godby, commander of the GSP’s Colquitt, Ga., post, Sloan was traveling south on Georgia Highway 241 when she approached a road safety checkpoint being conducted by state troopers and Sheriff’s deputies at the intersection of Georgia 241 and Georgia 309 South. Godby said seven law enforcement officers were present at the road checkpoint, including Trooper First Class Walt Landrum and Cpl. John Vanlandingham.

Sloan stopped and made a U-turn before reaching the checkpoint, causing state troopers to pursue her, Godby said. State troopers followed Sloan about five miles north on Georgia 241 before she turned onto East Griffin Street, where TFC Landrum used the PIT maneuver.

Sloan’s Florida driver’s license was revoked and she was not licensed to drive in Georgia, according to the State Patrol.

The GSP’s Special Investigations Division is investigating the incident with the assistance of the Specialized Collision Reconstruction team, said GSP Public Information officer Gordy Wright.

TFC Landrum remains on active duty, Sgt. Godby said.

2007 incident

In May 2007, a Decatur County man was killed in a crash that happened while he was being pursued by state troopers.

In that incident, the man who was driving approached a GSP road check set up on Hutchinson Ferry Road. The driver was stopped and asked for his identification, which he could not produce, Sgt. Godby recalled. Instead of pulling off to the side of the road as instructed by state troopers, the driver sped past them as they stood in the roadway. State Trooper Kyle Duke pursued the driver, who was headed east on Hutchinson Ferry Road.

Duke, who is now a corporal with the GSP, was pulling his car up beside the fleeing driver’s pickup truck in the other lane, in an attempt to begin the PIT maneuver, according to Sgt. Godby. However, before Duke’s patrol car made contact, the fleeing driver swerved to the right and lost control of his steering, Godby said. The truck went off the road and struck a utility pole, causing the death of the driver.

GSP pursuit policy

According to a GSP spokesperson, the PIT maneuver is one of several techniques that are available to end a pursuit when a suspect is fleeing; other possibilities include using stop sticks, rolling roadblocks and regular road blocks, if conditions allow.

According to data provided by a GSP spokesperson, state troopers are involved in an average of 371 pursuits each year statewide. An average of 54 PIT maneuvers are done by state troopers each year. There is an average of five deaths per year resulting from all crashes related to GSP pursuits, not limited to use of the PIT but also including losing control of a vehicle and striking fixed objects or other vehicles.

The Georgia State Patrol began training in the use of the PIT maneuver in 1997, according to minutes of a presentation GSP Commander Bill Hitchens gave to the Georgia Board of Public Safety in January 2005. State troopers receive eight hours of pursuit driving training annually, Hitchens also told the board in August 2005.

When making a PIT maneuver, several factors are taken into consideration, according to Hitchens. Based on those factors and circumstances, the law enforcement officer would have to determine the speed. Supervisor approval is not required before the PIT is deployed, a GSP spokesperson said. Each pursuit is reviewed by a supervising officer and an internal critique report is prepared.

The policy manual used by the Georgia Department of Public Safety and the State Patrol states: “Sworn members of the Department are expected to make reasonable efforts to apprehend violators who flee or otherwise attempt to elude. However, the Department recognizes and respects the value and special integrity of each and every human life. In vesting members with the lawful authority to use force in the protection of the public welfare, a special balancing of all human interests is required. Members, in the performance of their duty, must use only the force that is necessary to bring an incident under control. It is paramount that members exercise prudent and sound judgment in their actions when engaging in pursuits. Members must comply with existing laws governing vehicle pursuits. At the same time, they must use sound discretion and good judgment in each pursuit. It must be understood that every violator will not be apprehended. In some situations, the most professional and reasonable decision would be to terminate a pursuit in the interest of their own and the public’s safety.”