Sheriff’s review: Deputies should have halted pursuit

Post Register file photo A car, reportedly stolen by Justin Crosby, wound up in the front yard of a home on West 17th Street on June 27 following a high-speed chase that involved eight deputies from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office and at least five officers from the Idaho Falls Police Department. A Sheriff’s Office review said that while deputies followed policy, they should have ended the pursuit.

A month after eight Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office deputies and at least five Idaho Falls Police officers engaged in a high-speed pursuit through downtown Idaho Falls and down 17th Street, one review found the deputies should have called the chase off.

Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Hulse, who led the internal review, said the decision to chase 23-year-old Justin Crosby, who was driving a stolen Buick on June 27, was poorly made given the circumstances.

The Idaho Falls Police Department also is reviewing the chase, but has yet to release its results.

“The risk to the public, the fact that we were close to the lunch hour, the heavy traffic, the fact that (the pursuit) went into the downtown area; those issues could have been avoided if (the deputy) terminated the pursuit early,” Hulse said.

Hulse, however, was quick to defend his officers and the policy, pointing out the department’s policy allows deputies to decide when to initiate — or terminate — a pursuit.

“The pursuit was found to be within policy, for the most part,” Hulse said. “We feel that the pursuit should have been terminated early because it was for a property crime, though. Did the need to apprehend the violator outweigh the risk to the public? In this case no, it did not.”

Hulse said his office will consider making changes to the policy manual, which provides guidelines as to when to initiate or terminate a pursuit.

As a result of the internal investigation, the eight deputies involved in the chase are required to undergo “remedial” training in decision-making for pursuits, conducting felony traffic encounters and high-speed vehicle operation, Hulse said.

The IFPD said July 2 it also would review the actions of its officers. Chief Mark McBride said Tuesday the review hasn’t taken place, but internal affairs investigators are “pulling the data together to present it to the panel.”

Crosby, of Idaho Falls, led deputies on the chase after a deputy attempted to pull him over near the intersection of Energy Drive and Fremont Avenue around 11:50 a.m.

Crosby fled, leading eight deputies and at least five Idaho Falls Police Officers to the corner of 17th Street and Calkins Avenue. There a deputy performed a pursuit immobilization technique, commonly referred to as a PIT maneuver, in which the deputy hit the suspect’s back bumper, causing the vehicle to lose traction and spin out into the front yard of a home at 205 W 17th St.

Hulse said the review determined Crosby’s reckless driving justified the PIT maneuver.

“The way Crosby was driving on the wrong side of the road intentionally, the PIT maneuver was extremely reasonable and extremely within policy,” Hulse said.

Ultimately, Hulse said Crosby created the real danger to the public.

“The responsibility of safety falls on the individual choosing to violate the law and flee from law enforcement,” Hulse said. “It was his actions that created the need for law enforcement’s actions.”

Reporter Ali Tadayon can be reached at 542-6746.