BPD sued after chase ends in death of innocent driver

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(By EVA CARRE_Shutterstock)

By AFRO Staff

The mother of a 28-year-old Baltimore man who ultimately died after his car was struck by a stolen vehicle being chased by Baltimore Police in March, is suing the city.

Rowena Simmons sued  the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) on behalf of her son Darius Gore, 28, who died April 16, after going into cardiac arrest. His vehicle had been struck, March 21, by an allegedly stolen car driven by Delisa Ann Dello-Stritto, who was fleeing police. After the accident Gore went into a coma.

According to the BPD, on the evening of March 21, Baltimore Police officers engaged in a high-speed chase of Dello-Stritto, who was being pursued for a property crime, which according to BPD policies is not a basis for pursuit. Officers chased Dello-Stritto for approximately 11 miles with speeds exceeding limits by 20 to 30 miles per hour at times. The chase weaved through the city, through intersections, residential areas, narrow streets, passing two schools and a hospital. Allegedly the stolen vehicle  had a GPS device and was also being tracked by a police helicopter.

“We allege that the pursuit should have never begun, and it should have ended almost immediately after it began,”  said Nikoletta Mendrinos, attorney for Murphy, Falcon & Murphy.  “We also allege that Baltimore City Police violated departmental regulations.”

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The pursuit ended at Liberty Heights and Callaway Avenue in Northwest Baltimore, when the car driven by Dello-Stritto hit the car Gore was driving, causing it to spin and hit another car. Gary Tyson, a passenger in Gore’s car broke his left leg and two ribs. Gore’s neck was broken, and he suffered an acute brain bleed. He was taken to the hospital where he underwent surgery to remove parts of his skull, but he remained in a coma and died less than a month later on April 16.

“I will never have another opportunity to hug my son again because the Baltimore City Police decided a vehicle was worth more than his life,” said Gore’s mother at a press conference held, April 20, at the intersection where the crash occurred. “It’s time for the police to be held accountable for the devastation and suffering that they have caused my family and everyone else who loved Darius.”

According to the lawsuit, these types of deadly chases have led to many police departments modifying their pursuit policies, making them more restrictive to reduce the number of deaths and injuries that occurred as a result of police pursuits.

“We are calling on Commissioner Harrison to eliminate all high-speed chases,” said Kobi Little, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP. “It’s our position, the Baltimore NAACP, that the focus of the Baltimore police department ought to be on public safety operations. We need a police department that will deescalate rather than escalate.” 

The grieving mother said, “It was a blessing that nobody else got killed. But my son is dead. We must do something. We must take a stand. “No other mother or father should go through the death of their son due to a police chase.”

AFRO Freelancer Beverly Richards contributed to this article.