CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) – At what point should police quit chasing a dangerous suspect? That’s what a federal judge may have to decide after a woman who police were chasing died in a crash.
State Police were after a speeder who tried to make his getaway through oncoming traffic. The officers clearly thought he was putting lives in danger. He ended up killing his own passenger.
Video shows the driver doing about 90 mph into oncoming traffic. But the way that November chase into Clovis ended has the passenger’s family filing for a wrongful death lawsuit.
They claim State Police officers engaged in an unnecessary and inherently dangerous high speed pursuit of the driver, Kyle Mawhorter, which in turn caused him to conduct himself in an unsafe manner as he fled from State Police.
Mawhorter’s passenger, Kori Woods of Norman, Oklahoma, died at the scene of the crash.
Mawhorter, in what turned out to be a stolen truck, drove into oncoming traffic not once, not twice, but three times, forcing other drivers to pull over or veer off the highway to save their own lives.
Mawhorter had his chances to give up. The seven minute chase saw State Police try to spin out the truck with two pit maneuvers.
The second sent Mawhorter careening across the highway and to a stop. That’s when officers saw he had a passenger. That’s also when Mawhorter made the fatal mistake of trying to get away one more time.
Woods’ family claims that’s also when police should have abandoned the case, knowing there was a passenger in danger.
Less than 90 seconds later and at close to 90 mph, Mawhorter would hit a dirt mound and a gate, landing in a ditch.
One of the officers following blindly through a cloud of dust would come to a stop against the truck.
While Mawhorter took off running right way, within minutes paramedics instantly knew Kori Woods was already gone.
State Police do not comment on current lawsuits, but according to the Department of Public Safety, officers may engage in a high speed chase if the driver poses a clear threat to other people on the road.