By: Carey Codd, Miami.cbslocal.com
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Newly released dash cam video shows the moments before and after a deadly police chase that started in Coconut Creek and ended in Margate.
The video, obtained by CBS4 News under a public records request, is raising troubling questions about whether the police violated their policies in conducting the chase that left an 18-year-old woman dead.
The officers involved in the chase have now been reassigned as the department begins an internal investigation into their actions.
On Thursday, following a public records request by CBS4 News, the city of Coconut Creek released hundreds of pages of personnel files and disciplinary reports on the officers involved in the pursuit earlier this month.
Specifically, we’re learning details about why three of the officers involved in this month’s chase were punished for a similar chase in 2016.
In that case, Officer Christopher Lewis pursued a car after the driver sped off during an attempted traffic stop. The lieutenant on duty told Lewis not to pursue. According to police documents released Thursday, “…despite the order to terminate the pursuit, (Lewis) continued to follow the vehicle…” and “…speeds in excess of 95 miles per hour were recorded, in some cases without utilizing emergency lights and sirens, which is against department policy. It should also be noted that you did not go over the radio and advise your involvement in the pursuit.”
Officers wrote Lewis that “Your actions could have unnecessarily put yourself and others in harm’s way and discredited the City of Coconut Creek Police Department. This behavior cannot and will not be tolerated.”
The documents show that two other officers, K-9 Officer Rocco Favata and Officer David Morales also pursued that vehicle.
All three were suspended two days without pay and underwent remedial training for police pursuits.
In March of this year, Morales was also suspended for a day without pay after another high-speed situation where he “reached a top speed of 115 mph eastbound on Sample Road with other traffic present.”
Police disciplinary investigators wrote to Morales, “…you acted in an unsafe manner and were observed traveling at excessive speeds to a call that you failed to advise Dispatch and surrounding units about. You also neglected to call out the stop, which is not only a violation on its own, but also hinders officer safety. Your overall actions caused unnecessary danger for everyone involved.”
CBS 4 News contacted the city’s police chief, Butch Arenal, on Thursday after reviewing the documents and asked him whether the prior cases involving these three officers would be a factor in any discipline associated with the recent pursuit. Arenal said it would be.
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