The family of a man killed in a motorcycle crash while being pursed by police is conducting its own investigation and challenging the account given by police, attorneys for the family said.
James Herndon died last month after crashing his three-wheeler on Benning Road in Northeast D.C. during the chase that lasted more than an hour.
His wife and her attorneys say there is a dearth of information in the case. They have not been able to see any body camera video of the pursuit yet and question its legality.
“In contravention of the general orders of the Metropolitan Police Department, the officers who had initiated the pursuit followed James throughout the District of Columbia and into Prince George’s County and then back into the District,” said attorney Brian McDaniel of the Cochran firm.
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He said one of the big questions is whether an officer did something that may have caused the crash.
“I would say we certainly think that that’s a possibility, yeah,” McDaniel said. “That is how I would characterize that.”
D.C. police say officers began the pursuit on 9th Street NW believing Herndon was a suspect in a homicide but called it off when they learned he was just wanted for questioning.
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A supervisor ordered his officers to end the chase about an hour into the pursuit, but U.S Park Police continued the chase for an additional 14 minutes, D.C. police say.
The attorneys for the family want to know what happened in those 14 minutes and what happened at the end.
MPD’s pursuit policy says an officer can initiate a chase if, “There is probable cause to believe the crime committed or attempted involved an actual or threatened attack which resulted in or could have resulted in death or serious bodily injury; and (1) There is probable cause to believe the subject committed, or attempted to commit, the crime.”
“I’m very frustrated,” said Herndon’s wife, Miyauna Herndon. “I’m very frustrated; I’m very angry.”
“All I know is he was a good man, a very good man,” she said.
Herndon was found with drugs and a gun when he died, police say.
U.S. Park Police are not yet wearing body cameras, so there is not any video from them of the last 14 minutes of the chase.
U.S. Park Police previously said its officers were not notified when D.C. police decided to end the pursuit.