GUN Man recovers stolen motorcycle in chase

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by TL1000RSquid, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. TL1000RSquid

    TL1000RSquid ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    http://www.ozarksnow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070320/NEWS01/703200368
    Man recovers stolen motorcycle in chase

    Police say high-speed pursuit illegal for civilians.

    Wes Johnson
    News-Leader


    Frank Gonzales thought the black-and-yellow Honda motorcycle whizzing past him last week looked awfully familiar.

    He recognized the distinctive scrapes he'd put on the exhaust pipes popping wheelies.



    But he didn't recognize the man driving his stolen bike.

    "I got a look at him," Gonzales said. "He turned and looked at me and took off."

    A high-speed chase ensued through southwest Springfield neighborhoods, pitting a 150-mph street bike against Gonzales' battered Ford Explorer car with 180,000 miles on it.

    He eventually corralled the suspect behind a church and got his bike back — after a chase several police authorities called unwise, unsafe and potentially illegal. One officer noted that Missouri law would not have backed Gonzales if he had injured someone or damaged property during the pursuit.

    "But there's nothing in the law that says you can't follow the suspect if you follow traffic rules," said Springfield police spokesman Grant Story.

    No charges have been filed in the case.

    Calling 911

    Gonzales called 911 on his cell phone to report the stolen motorcycle, and that he was pursuing the rider, who at one point hit 85 mph in a 35 mph zone. Gonzales stayed on the line and on the biker's tail during the entire 15-minute chase, even when the biker cut between two houses.

    At the 911 emergency dispatch center, training supervisor Rick Richards remembers the call.

    "He was advised by us not to do that," Richards said. "We told him two or three times not to put himself — or other people — in danger."

    The motorcyclist reportedly ran through a red light at Battlefield Road and Golden Avenue and a stop sign at Farm Road 164. Gonzales made a quick detour and kept the rider within his sight.

    "We got to Republic Road and he got boxed in by traffic," Gonzales said. "I passed a couple of cars and got close enough to talk to him. I told him, 'That's my bike. I need my bike back.'"

    The suspect muttered something about "needing to talk to his brother," then gunned the motor and sped away with Gonzales close behind.

    "He went into a neighborhood and drove between two houses, through the yard," Gonzales said. "I should have stopped, but I went ahead through the yard after him. It's a $4,500 bike. I knew if I lost him my bike would end up somewhere in Florida."

    Missing bikes

    Gonzales, a self-employed real estate investor, said he had a feeling of "violation and rage" when he discovered his 2000 Honda CBR 600 street bike was missing March 1 from the garage of a home he was remodeling.

    Thieves broke in through the garage door and stole his Honda 600, along with a smaller Honda 50. He filed a police report on both.

    Last year, thieves made off with two of his dirt bikes, which are still missing. He wasn't about to let his Honda 600 remain an unsolved crime.

    "You know, $4,500 might not be a lot of money to a lot of people, but it is to me," he said.

    During the chase, Gonzales said he considered the possibility that the thief might be carrying a gun.

    "That's why I stayed with 911 all the time," he said. "If he's going to shoot with his right hand, that's the throttle hand and he'll be slowing down, unless he's going to shoot left-handed."

    At one point, Gonzales asked the 911 dispatcher if it would be OK to bump the suspect with his car.

    "They told me not to do it because I'd be civilly prosecuted," Gonzales said. "So I didn't."

    Suspect flees

    The motorcyclist left the road and tried to escape by speeding into a wooded 20-acre tract of land behind a church at 3600 Republic Road.

    Gonzales said he caught up to the rider and managed to pin the bike between his Explorer and a large patch of thorns.

    "He was smashed right up against my window and couldn't go anywhere," Gonzales said. "I was angry, but also very concerned not to injure him so I'd keep 911 happy."

    The thief rolled off the bike and dashed away on foot, leaving Gonzales to survey the damage.

    The motorcycle had two flattened rims from hitting curbs at high speed.

    The chase through the woods damaged the Explorer's bumper, and trees broke a front headlight and the windshield.

    A Greene County sheriff's deputy arrived and took fingerprints from the motorcycle.

    Gonzales and a friend later found the thief's distinctive helmet — a dirt bike-style helmet with pink, purple and green colors — and his gloves, in the woods.

    Gonzales got his motorcycle back, but admits he may have gone too far in disregarding others' safety.

    "I agree," he said. "But I'm very safety-oriented. I taught a motorcycle safety course for nine years, and when we were going through the neighborhoods he did get farther away from me because I backed off."

    Gonzales added that he could see traffic ahead and honked his horn continuously.

    "I let the 911 operator know every detail of what was going on. I feel confident there was a low level of risk on my part when I was following him. He took way more risks than I did."

    Richards, the 911 training supervisor, said no civilian should undertake such a chase.

    "Absolutely not," he said. "It's not safe. There's the risk of injuring people and the risk of damaging people's property."

    Following rules

    Story, the Springfield police public information officer, said Missouri law would not have been on Gonzales' side had he injured someone or damaged property. Fortunately, citizens chasing down stolen property in high-speed pursuits are rare, he said.

    "Usually people will see their stolen car parked in a driveway somewhere and call us," he said.

    State statutes only allow police officers — not private citizens — to break traffic laws while pursuing a fleeing vehicle.

    Springfield police can chase a violent, fleeing felon or a drunken driver if there's a likelihood others would become victims if the person wasn't stopped.

    "A shoplifter? No," Story said. "A DWI driver? We'll routinely pursue because if left unchecked they will kill people. If we were in the same situation as he described, we would not have chased the motorcycle."

    So what should Gonzales have done when he saw his stolen property being driven by someone else?

    "If I were a private citizen in a similar situation, I'd hang back and not let the person know I'm following them," Story said. " Play it smart. Wait until he pulls into someplace and parks. It's a lot safer for authorities to arrest someone when the vehicle's parked than to chase a vehicle on the streets."

    Gonzales would have been within his rights to try to detain the suspect — a citizen's arrest — as long as he used "reasonable force" to stop him, Story said.

    "If the guy was running away, you couldn't shoot him in the back of the head with your concealed weapon to prevent him from getting away," Story said. "That's not a reasonable use of force. The law does allow you to act reasonably to detain that person."

    Gonzales said he understands Story's viewpoint, but was disappointed no authorities showed up to arrest the motorcyclist even though he gave a 911 dispatcher exact locations as the chase unfolded.

    "If I had called them and just waited for them to show up, I wouldn't have my bike back now," he said.

    The motorcyclist remains at large. Gonzales described him as a white male, 25 to 35 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds.

    -----

    speeding through residential areas chasing the guy probably wasn't a smart thing but having had a bike stolen before I know how he felt. I wouldn't of let the fucker get away though and he probably would of got banged up real bad when he went into that bush... ;)
     
  2. Gimik

    Gimik New Member

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    well I dunno. going through someone's yard was a really bad idea, but as long as he was being careful in the actual driving, everyone speeds in residential areas.

    Unless you're saying that he caused the criminal to be MORE dangerous by following him. I don't know what to say about that.
     
  3. bigboostdsm

    bigboostdsm New Member

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    If I had of caught the guy, I don't think I could have kept my hands on him just because the 911 operator told me to. He would have "Jumped at me" then caught a fist to the face. Damn it theives piss me off.
     
  4. TL1000RSquid

    TL1000RSquid ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    Well his first mistake was confronting the guy, should of just tried to tail him to where ever he was going, then none of that would of happend. I would of tried to wait for the first red light, tap him, then confront him..
     
  5. Gimik

    Gimik New Member

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    yeah, that was a mistake. just following him to where he stopped would have been a better thing to do I think.
     
  6. Thunderbear

    Thunderbear Yggdrasil's Forester.

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    Tap him nothing. I'd pull up to a red light behind him and yank him the fuck off my bike, then proceed to defend myself against his chin with my tire iron.

    :mad: That makes me ill just thinking about it.
     
  7. t1h

    t1h Guest

    i would of bumped him. i don't think any judge/jury would of made him have to pay anything to the theif
     
  8. ososlow

    ososlow OT Supporter

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    I probably would of done the same thing in his position. I had my snowmobile stolen a few ago and I could only wish I would of caught them.
     

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