SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — An innocent bystander was killed and three more victims injured, after alleged carjacker Carlo Watson tried to avoid being caught by the police. He ended up in a violent collision with another vehicle at the intersection of 16th Street and Potrero Avenue in San Francisco Tuesday.
San Francisco Police Department investigators say it was around 10 a.m. Tuesday when Watson allegedly carjacked a city-owned vehicle at Folsom and Mabini. A short time later, SFPD officers and deputies with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office spotted the vehicle at Kansas and 25th streets. That is where the vehicle pursuit began.
“It’s such an adrenaline-fueled atmosphere for both the police and the person being chased,” said former SF Police Commissioner John Hamasaki. “We have a series of factors at SFPD that they’re supposed to consider.”
San Francisco’s police pursuit policy includes balancing the importance of apprehending suspects who unlawfully flee from law enforcement against the risks of vehicle pursuits.
The sheriff’s office policy on when to terminate a pursuit includes objectively and continuously weighing the seriousness of the offense against the potential danger to innocent motorists, themselves, and the public when electing to continue a pursuit.
“It’s always tough having a pursuit in San Francisco because we are a tight densely packed city,” said Hamasaki. “We have a high rate of pedestrian injuries and fatalities because of our infrastructure. When you put a 4 or 5 thousand pound, essentially, missile in the middle of that, there’s a fair chance of doing some injury.”
In light of how Tuesday’s pursuit ended with a loss of life and multiple people injured, Hamasaki says maybe it is time for the current police commission to amend the city’s law enforcement vehicle pursuit policy.
“In that adrenaline-fueled state it can be hard for officers to make the right decision. Maybe simplifying or clarifying the policy would be helpful and promote safety in San Francisco,” he said.
San Francisco police officials say although an arrest has been made, this remains an active investigation.