Recently, a West Virginia police chase resulted in the alleged perpetrator’s violent death. The high-speed chase down Interstate 64 took place after Jan Dennis Perry allegedly tried to shoplift from a Walmart store in Hurricane. The Clarksburg resident was pronounced dead at the scene.
The situation began when area police witnessed Perry fleeing the Walmart store and decided to chase after him. Perry drove onto the Interstate, sometimes averaging speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, before trying to take an exit. His car then skidded sideways and slammed into the back of a tractor trailer. It took firefighters over an hour to remove Perry’s body from the wreckage.
Perry had a lengthy history of criminal activity, including armed robbery. According to police, Perry was attempting to steal a television from the Walmart store when a police car pulled into the parking lot. He saw the police and fled the scene. While police officers are normally required to consider traffic and weather conditions before deciding whether to go on a high-speed chase, the police officers in this case claim that they did not have time to follow normal protocols. They claim that they acted responsibly, however, avoiding taking the exit into a rest area, where the speed limit was 25 miles per hour, because they knew that they were moving too quickly to make the turn safely.
Perry was unmarried with no children, and his only known survivor is his father. It is unknown whether Perry’s father will seek legal action against the Hurricane police department. If he does, his most likely course of action would be to hire a West Virginia wrongful death attorney to sue the police department for wrongful death. He would argue that the police had a duty to the community and even to the individuals they were chasing to act reasonably according to the situation. The police breached that duty by failing to follow established police protocols and engaging in a high-speed chase, which prompted Perry to increase his speed to an unsafe level, resulting in his car skidding and his death when he tried to turn off into the rest area. Perry’s father might then seek damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
However, the Hurricane police department would probably counter Perry’s father’s assertions by noting, first of all, that the police officers did operate safely during the police chase. It was Perry who chose to move onto the Interstate and to increase his speed to a dangerously high level, and it was Perry who chose to exit at a point where his speed was too high to move safely. The police officers, meanwhile, assessed the conditions and determined that it was too dangerous to follow Perry at their current speed.