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IMPD: Driver fleeing police dies after crashing into pole

UPDATE: The driver who crashed into a pole at 62nd Street and Zionsville Road on Jan. 3 was identified by the Marion County Coroner’s Office as 15-year-old Damion Collier.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The driver of a vehicle trying to flee from police early Tuesday died after crashing into a pole on the city’s northwest side, Indianapolis police said.

Just before 4 a.m., the vehicle crashed into a traffic pole at West 62nd Street and Zionsville Road, just off of I-465, according to Lt. Shane Foley, public information officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

About 30 minutes earlier, an off-duty police officer saw the vehicle driving without headlights on northbound I-465 near 71st Street. The driver was going under the speed limit and hugging the shoulder, officers at the scene tell News 8.

The off-duty officer reported the driver’s strange behavior to officers on-duty. Those officers learned that the vehicle was reported stolen in Anderson on Monday.

A pursuit of the stolen vehicle began, according to officers at the scene, but ended a short time later when the vehicle crashed into the pole and caught on fire.

Debris from the accident hit a nearby house, but no one inside the home was injured, IMPD says.

The person living in the home told WISH-TV part of a brake rotor flew into her home. It ripped through the drywall causing significant damage.

Debris from the crash could be seen in the grass around the pole where the chase ended.

The driver of the vehicle died at the scene. Police have not said who the person was and were still investigating.

Lt. Foley told WISH-TV the chase and crash sparked an internal IMPD investigation, “Since a vehicle pursuit did occur and a fatality occurred the internal affairs team will conduct a separate and independent investigation. At this point there’s no indication that any officers took any action which resulted in the vehicle crash taking place.”

WISH-TV took a close look at IMPD General Order Guidelines concerning car chases. The guidelines below say when an officer can initiate a chase:

1. Has reasonable suspicion to believe an occupant has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a felony (beyond the act of fleeing alone) or a misdemeanor exception offense; and/or

2. Witnesses a misdemeanor offense. NOTE A pursuit may not be initiated based solely upon an observed traffic infraction. If an officer has articulable suspicion additional criminal activity is afoot (beyond the traffic infraction and/or the act of fleeing), the officer may pursue.

There are also guidelines for what an officer must consider during a chase:

E. Before initiating and during any pursuit, the pursuing officer(s) and supervisor(s) must ensure the risk to the public’s safety does not outweigh the governmental interest in apprehending the suspect(s) and must consider the following:

1. The dangers and risks posed to the officers, bystanders, uninvolved motorists, and vehicle occupants;

2. Severity of the offense;

3. Knowledge of the identity of the pursued suspect(s);

4. Other occupants within the vehicle (e.g., children or elderly);

5. Weather and lighting conditions;

6. Road conditions (e.g., intersections, traffic controls, overhead lighting, curves, hills, repair, width of road, etc.);

7. Traffic conditions (e.g., density of vehicle and pedestrian traffic);

8. Locality of pursuit (e.g., residential, highway, school zones, etc.);

9. Officer’s familiarity with area;

10. Danger presented by the suspect’s actions (e.g., speed, driving against traffic, extreme evasive tactics, whether the officer knows or suspects the driver may be under the influence of an intoxicant, etc.); and

11. The officer and fleeing suspect’s driving skills, ability, and vehicle condition.

The IMPD internal investigation will determine if these guidelines were followed during the chase.

The Marion County Coroners Office said they are working to identify the person who died in the crash.

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