Fleeing the police is never a good idea, but it’s a common tactic for people who have been accused of a crime and are terrified of what will happen if the police catch up to them. In a recent case, a father driving his son and a neighbor’s child to school fled the police and is now facing murder charges after the police initiated a maneuver that caused his car to flip, killing one of his young passengers.
Charlie Moore was driving in his native Georgia with his 14 year old son and his neighbor’s child, 12 year old Leden Boykins, in the car. Police attempted to pull over Moore for speeding, but after initially stopping, he refused to roll down his window and then sped away, leading police on a high-speed chase. At the same time, Moore, a Black man, called 9-11 and told the operator that he was terrified of what the police would do to him. He also expressed concern that the police were putting the boys in his car in danger by continuing the high speed chase.
Police eventually ended the chase by using what is known as the PIT maneuver, which stands for pursuit immobilization technique. This move involves clipping the rear tire of a vehicle, which makes the driver lose control of the vehicle, causing the car to come to a stop.
When police clipped Moore’s car, the vehicle flipped and Boykins died as a result.
Charlie Moore’s Many Criminal Charges
Because he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test and had an open alcohol container in the vehicle, Moore is now being charged with drunk driving. He is also facing reckless driving charges, as well as charges related to driving on a suspended license. What has surprised many people though is the fact that he is also being charged with vehicular homicide and murder during the commission of a felony as well.
Assuming he is actually guilty of driving on a suspended license with an open container in the car, it is logical enough to assume that he fled the police because he knew he would be in serious legal trouble if he was stopped. In fact, while his actions may not actually be defensible, they are at least somewhat understandable.
While many have found it unfair for Moore to be charged with vehicular homicide and murder during the commission of a felony, these charges are fairly typical given the circumstances of the case, even if the police are actually the ones who caused the vehicle to flip and kill Boykins. Because Moore was driving in a highly negligent manner and the boy died as a result, he is essentially guilty of vehicular homicide. In California, when vehicular homicide is related to driving under the influence, it is always a felony.
As for murder during the commission of a felony, this is a special type of murder charge that is applied when someone commits a felony that results in another person’s death, even if the person being accused didn’t directly kill the victim. That certainly applies in this circumstance.
In fact, under California law, he could have even been charged with second degree murder given that a reasonable person would have recognized that leading police on a high speed chase could result in a high degree of risk to human life that was likely to result in death. That being said, these charges typically are pled down to vehicular manslaughter charges.
Were the case to take place in San Diego, the charges might be filed as involuntary or voluntary manslaughter or 2nd degree murder.
But Who is to Blame?
What many people are more upset about though is the fact that a boy is dead and the police had a hand in it. There are reasons to question the thought process that led the police to use a dangerous maneuver like the PIT technique. For one, they certainly knew that Moore had two children in the vehicle both due to his 9-11 call and the opportunity they had to look in the vehicle when they originally attempted to stop him. Additionally, while no specific details on the speed of the vehicle have been released, the fact that they repeatedly referred to it as a “high speed chase” means that the vehicles were almost certainly traveling above 35 miles per hour, which is the recommended maximum speed to safely use the PIT maneuver.
The boy’s parents are particularly skeptical of the officer’s decision, noting “They could put a roadblock up and protect those kids. They couldn’t figure out any other way than to flip that car over?” It’s a fair question, especially considering that passenger safety is always supposed to be something police take into account when deciding how to handle a high speed chase.
Only time will tell what happens to the officers responsible, but Boykins’ parents are calling for the police to be held equally responsible as Moore is for their son’s death.
High Speed Pursuits are Never a Good Call
Stories like this are tragic and a good reminder that no matter how much trouble you are facing, it is always better to be pulled over and fight the charges with a good defense attorney rather than flee the police. If you have been accused of a crime, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.