The driver of an SUV being pursued by police turned around three times in the middle of a busy George Town street, according to a driver who witnessed the pursuit and recorded part of it on his mobile phone.
The slow-speed chase occurred June 28 on Harbour Drive/North Church Street along the George Town waterfront. Police declined to comment on whether the driver was apprehended during the pursuit around 11 a.m., or why officers were chasing him.
According to the driver who witnessed the incident, the vehicle being pursued was heading north along the waterfront when it made a U-turn in the middle of the street and headed southbound. The vehicle then turned again in the street, in front of the police car, and headed back north.
It is at this point that the video recording shows the SUV turning slowly in front of the police car, while the police vehicle allowed it to turn around and head back southbound again, picking up speed. The man who recorded the incident, who did not want the Cayman Compass to use his name for fear that his employment on island might be negatively affected by releasing the video, said he was surprised by what he observed.
“The driver he was pursuing turned around three times that I know of, [during] any of which [the pursuing officer] could have very easily boxed him in and apprehended the suspect,” the man said in an email to the Compass. “Instead, [the officer] chased him back through George Town where there were three cruise ships in and people everywhere.”
A police statement, which the Compass received Wednesday, indicated witnesses would not have all the information that the pursuing officers had at the time.
“We see nothing to question the officers’ judgment here,” the RCIPS statement indicated. “Officers often have only a few seconds to make decisions to save lives and protect property. In this example, the car could [have] driven into another vehicle instead of safely stopping. These are the sorts of possibilities officers must constantly consider.”
The way police handles pursuits has been under increased scrutiny since a 2013 Grand Court judgment in the trial of a lawsuit filed after a man’s death during a 2008 police chase on West Bay Road.
In that case, the family of Bruce Lee Ebanks sued the driver of the vehicle being pursued by police, as well as the Cayman Islands government, over the fatal crash on Feb. 29, 2008. Mr. Ebanks and 21-year-old Sidney Myles, who were passengers in the car driven by then-19-year-old Alex Callan, died in the Friday night smash on West Bay Road. Mr. Callan survived and was sentenced to four years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.
In late March 2013, then-Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson granted a judgment and costs in favor of Paulene Ebanks, the mother of Bruce Lee Ebanks.
“The [Feb. 29, 2008] accident was contributed to, if not caused by, the speed at which Mr. Callan was driving,” Mr. Justice Henderson wrote in his ruling, dated March 27, 2013.
“He was doing so because a police car was chasing him. Had the pursuit been terminated, it is more probable than not that Mr. Callan would have slowed down to a normal speed so as to avoid attracting further police attention. The negligent failure to end the pursuit was one factor which contributed to the accident.”