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Deputy in question in fatal motorcycle pursuit

Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 9:48 PM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:14 AM
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A Richmond County sheriff’s deputy might have broken department policy earlier this year when he pursued a suspect on a motorcycle that ended in a fatal crash.

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Jason Ycaza, killed in a Sept. 23 crash, is seen with his family at their Hephzibah home. He was riding a motorcycle when a deputy gave chase over invalid plates.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Jason Ycaza, killed in a Sept. 23 crash, is seen with his family at their Hephzibah home. He was riding a motorcycle when a deputy gave chase over invalid plates.


Jason Steven Ycaza died Sept. 23, just moments after Dep­uty Bill Wright said he quit chasing him and a friend on Windsor Spring Road because their motorcycles did not have valid license plates.

The victim’s mother, Ana Ycaza, said eyewitnesses tell a different story.

They say Wright never stopped pursuing her son and that the deputy was on a motorcycle, a vehicle that – because of the risk involved – is “strongly discouraged” from initiating or participating in chases in Richmond and Columbia counties unless extenuating circumstances exist, policy states.

Ycaza has contacted a lawyer and is considering taking legal action against the city for a death she feels could have been avoided.

“It’s been very hard to lose my son,” said Ycaza, who lives in Hephzibah, fewer than five miles from her son’s crash site. “Every minute he’s on my mind. I see his pictures at work, at home and on Facebook, and I cry almost every day.”

Lt. Calvin Chew, a spokesman for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, said Wright followed protocol, calling off the chase moments after it started around 5 p.m. because he lost sight of the suspects near Windsor Spring Elementary School.

A Georgia State Patrol investigation showed Ycaza, 30, raced almost another full mile up the four-lane highway, unaware he was no longer being followed. Consequently, he ran a red light at Rosier Road, collided with a left-turning motorist and was thrown 35 feet nearly 10 minutes after the chase began. His friend got away.

“There’s nothing to critique,” Chew said of the chase. He said Wright was not required to file a pursuit report or complete a supervisor review, as required by policy, because the chase was so short.

“There was not even an opportunity to get a marked unit involved because the pursuit only lasted maybe five seconds at the most,” Chew said.

Police recordings on file at the Richmond County 911 Center indicate the pursuit lasted between 90 seconds and 2½ minutes, and nowhere on the tape does Wright specifically call it off.

“The last place I saw them was at northbound Wind­sor Spring Road and Meadow­brook Drive,” the deputy says 90 seconds after starting the chase. Twenty seconds later, he says, “It looks like he’s still out at Rosier Road.” Ten seconds after that he calls for an ambulance.

Incident and crash reports filed by the Georgia State Patrol and the sheriff’s office do not state where Wright suspended his chase. Chew said he has reviewed Wright’s file but has not listened to the tapes.

“Whatever the tape says, I cannot change that,” Chew said of the pursuit. “If it’s more than a minute, then it’s more than a minute.”

According to policy, deputies in Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties are justified in beginning a chase even when the only information available is that the suspect hasn’t stopped as ordered.

Chew said the two motorcyclists pulled to the shoulder of Tobacco Road as if they planned to stop. However, Chew said, when the officer approached, they turned right on Windsor Spring Road and sped away.

After a chase has started, policy states that deputies must continuously evaluate the circumstances, such as the initial reason for the pursuit; traffic and weather conditions; time of day; direction of travel; the possible consequences; and most importantly, the safety of the public, the deputy and other law enforcement personnel.

“Pursuits may continue if there are reasonable grounds to believe the suspect presents a clear and immediate threat to the safety of others or if the suspect has committed or is attempting to commit a forcible felony,” policy states.

On those grounds, Ycaza said she feels her son’s chase was unnecessary.

She acknowledged that her son had prior run-ins with the law. Court records show he fled police for running a stop sign and being in possession of marijuana. After the wreck, authorities discovered heroin and three bags of marijuana in his possession.

Ycaza said the deputy put the public in danger by starting the chase during rush hour for a routine traffic violation.

“He and a friend were headed to the gym,” she said. “He was not a threat.”

This year, Richmond Coun­ty deputies have chased suspects 47 times. In one case, two North Augusta brothers were killed when their car struck a tree as they fled. Ycaza’s death is not counted as a fatal pursuit because it did not directly result from a chase, according to the department.

Richmond County’s 2013 total nearly exceeds the number of chases in Columbia County for the past three years combined – 49.

Nationally, the U.S. De­part­ment of Transportation estimates that 6,000 to 8,000 police chases end in crashes each year, with close to 5,000 people being injured and 500 being killed.

Lt. Ramone Lamkin, the head of the Richmond Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office’s new traffic division, said the pursuit policy is not one of “catch at all costs.” He stressed that “while it is the deputy who initiates the traffic stop, it is the violator who initiates the pursuit.”

“Once we put the lights on, all someone has to do is stop,” he said. “The ultimate goal is for everyone – the officer and the suspect – to go home safely.”

Ycaza said if that is the ultimate goal, then it was not accomplished.

“We’re still in shock,” she said. “We shouldn’t have lost him that way.”

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GnipGnop
11422
Points
GnipGnop 12/22/13 - 12:05 am
23
3
Huh?

What is a dupty? Secondly there isn't anyone on the left...maybe his left? If you run from the popo you get what you deserve. The fact that he had done it before shows who really put the public in danger...and spare me the "they were going to the gym crap"...unless they were going there to sell heroin maybe? I know you loved your kid but don't make excuses or blame someone else because his actions were the direct result that cost him his life...

Connor Threlkeld
582
Points
Connor Threlkeld 12/22/13 - 12:49 am
5
1
Sorry GnipGnop, not sure why

Sorry GnipGnop, not sure why that was sent online like that, it's been fixed.

my.voice
4593
Points
my.voice 12/22/13 - 02:41 am
17
2
Blame it on the officer,

Blame it on the officer, classy.

paladin5
282
Points
paladin5 12/22/13 - 03:46 am
15
2
Only An Opinion....

From my experience, drugs on your person is a good motive for fleeing from a Traffic Stop.......

scoobynews
3771
Points
scoobynews 12/22/13 - 08:38 am
19
3
Bags of drugs and she thinks

Bags of drugs and she thinks he was not a threat!!? Get your head out of the sand mama. He wasn't out delivering vitamin supplements. Some people are just plain crazy.

fatboyhog
1783
Points
fatboyhog 12/22/13 - 10:04 am
20
3
“strongly discouraged” from initiating or participating in chase

That does not say "prohibited" from initiating or participating in chases. The policy is mainly to protect the motor officer, whose bike is smaller than a car. That leads me to a question for mama: would it have been ok of the pursuing vehicle was a patrol car instead of a motorcycle? Would that have been acceptable? The fact of the matter is the driver of the motorcycle fled rather than stop. The reason was more than likely because he was in possession of heroin. He thought that he could outrun the officer. When you engage in criminal activity, you suffer the consequences. I do not revel in the death of anyone, and I'm sorry that someone's son died, but the fact remains, had he not fled, he'd be alive today.

thauch12
5928
Points
thauch12 12/22/13 - 11:23 am
6
24
Really?^^^

Is that any way to talk of the dead? Have some class people. At the end of the day, he was another human being with all the faults and imperfections we all have. There seem to be a lot of rocks cast from those living in glass houses...

For all any of us know, it could have been planted on him. The cop in question certainly would have sufficient motive to try something like that. While I am by no means insinuating that this was the case, let's get all the facts before you crucify him as a heroin dealer.

justthefacts
20027
Points
justthefacts 12/22/13 - 11:32 am
20
3
"it could have been planted on him."

Right, all smart Cops carry around bags of dope. Just in case it's needed.

Sweet son
9546
Points
Sweet son 12/22/13 - 02:46 pm
12
3
Get him justthefacts!

"Planted the heroin" is laughable and I don't condone laughing about this guy losing his life but get real he knew the had the dope and did a dopey thing by running.

Deputy Wright did the right thing when deciding to call off the pursuit. Most pursuits don't end well.

thauch12
5928
Points
thauch12 12/22/13 - 02:59 pm
5
22
Hypocrites.

It's hilariously ironic how justthefacts doesn't have the facts but seems to think he does. The fact of the matter (as I clearly stated in my earlier post) is that we don't have all the facts. None of you know that drugs were or were not planted. It's a possibility (minuscule I hope) but people cheering this guy's death or dismissing it as another hoodlum off the streets are part of the problem of our greater society's loss of respect for the sanctity of human life. Get your own lives in perfect order before casting stones.

And please, feel free to thumb this down in a show of ignorance that is apparently endemic as reflected in the above comments.

IBeDogGone
2871
Points
IBeDogGone 12/22/13 - 03:00 pm
15
3
Sorry Mom!

Loss of a child is hard to take and I feel for you. Your son was on a path to destruction long before he ran from the deputy. Ultimately his life would have probably been loss in a tragic way eventually. I am tired of people seeking money and costing tax payers money that could be spent bettering the community. I do not understand your rational in seeking legal action. I hope the lawyer you contacted will discourage this action. I feel if the lawyer felt a case was valid he would have encouraged you to file a suit and then go public with your actions.

Gage Creed
15320
Points
Gage Creed 12/22/13 - 05:54 pm
13
4
Thauch12... do you get

Thauch12... do you get nosebleeds from standing way up high on that self-righteous peak?

Did you bother to read that this is NOT the first time Ycaza has ran from the police? Apparently, you should heed your own advice, as it appears ignorance may run unfettered in your own psyche.

Bless your heart...

dichotomy
29819
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dichotomy 12/22/13 - 06:05 pm
4
2
scoobynews
3771
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scoobynews 12/22/13 - 06:13 pm
15
3
No one is laughing especially

No one is laughing especially me when some sue happy lawyer pals up with a mama looking to blame everyone else for her son's death. My point is own up to it and realize her son would still be alive had HE just stopped as required by law. His first offense was an invalid tag. Guess he was clueless as to what that is. Second running from the law. He could have injured an innocent person just minding their own business lawfully. Third he had drugs. Spare me the planted drugs bs. That is beyond stupid for anyone to even suggest considering how easily he broke two other laws. I don't demean anyone's life ending but he was well on a path to it long before this officer came along.

rational thought trumps emotion
2459
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 12/22/13 - 06:45 pm
15
2
Ycaza said if that is the ultimate goal......

then it was not accomplished. That is because her son made a conscious decision to break the law, failed to stop for the police and failed to stop for a red light. He is 100% to blame and no lawsuit should be permitted as he was committing a felony when he was struck.

People need to take responsibility for their own actions and parents need to understand that if they don't do more to keep their kids in check when they are younger or heading down the wrong path be it drugs, violence, etc. that the end result is usually jail or death.

As for the deputy, the 911 recording makes it clear he could no longer see the suspect and therefore was not chasing him but was still looking for him in the area - either way though, the suspect is the one at fault.

This officer, as most, was doing his job and doing it well.

rational thought trumps emotion
2459
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 12/22/13 - 06:43 pm
12
4
Pathetic Headline....

How can the headline read Police might have broken policy when it is clear no policy was broken (nothing prohibits the police chase) and Lt. Calvin Chew even states that no policy was broken.

Pathetic attempt at sensationalism when the headline should have read....Man dies breaking the law, fleeing the police while in possession of drugs.

Little Lamb
43586
Points
Little Lamb 12/22/13 - 06:50 pm
10
4
Pursuit

I'm not a big fan of high-speed police pursuits, but if the officer thinks the chase is necessary to achieve justice, I support it. No one is happy over the loss of life, but the one who flees must be the one who pays the price, either in this life or the next.

jmo
13969
Points
jmo 12/22/13 - 06:59 pm
7
1
Little Lamb
43586
Points
Little Lamb 12/22/13 - 10:18 pm
8
3
Meaningless

From the story comes this meaningless factoid by cub reporter Wesley Brown:

Richmond County’s 2013 total nearly exceeds the number of chases in Columbia County for the past three years combined – 49.

Richmond County is twice as big as Columbia County and has a tremendously larger thug population. Brown tries to confuse and obscure with his meaningless factoid.

CobaltGeorge
149015
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/22/13 - 08:22 pm
11
5
I Love This One!

"he was another human being with all the faults and imperfections we all have.

"We All Have", implying that We all have prior police records, We have all run from the Police, We all have drugs on us daily, and We all come from parents that have not thought us the Rights and Wrong in life.

That comment really hit home!!

Gage Creed
15320
Points
Gage Creed 12/22/13 - 08:45 pm
10
4
willie Lee.... another

willie Lee.... another successful candidate for ignore... 11 pages of posts all slamming cops and the justice system. Sounds like willie needs to be back in the population standing against the wall.

Little Lamb
43586
Points
Little Lamb 12/22/13 - 10:25 pm
5
2
Deaths Put Into Perspective

From the story:

Nationally, the U.S. De­part­ment of Transportation estimates that 6,000 to 8,000 police chases end in crashes each year, with close to 5,000 people being injured and 500 being killed.

Well, with 500 hundred deaths out of 300, 000, 000 people in the country, I would say that's not too bad.

specsta
6046
Points
specsta 12/22/13 - 10:36 pm
4
11
My Two Cents

Maybe if only motorists suspected of having committed a felony were pursued by police, a lot more people would be alive today. To chase a motorist for a traffic infraction is just dumb.

But when cops get disrespected by a motorist, the adrenaline kicks in and they want to make a show of their authority. Just about every video I've seen of police chases winds up with the suspect getting roughed up by police once the vehicle is stopped.

specsta
6046
Points
specsta 12/22/13 - 10:44 pm
4
10
Bad Cops

For those of you who think that all cops are always honest, work within the law, and would never harm an innocent person, I have some luxury real estate in Montana to sell you with a nice ocean view.

http://www.policemisconduct.net/

GnipGnop
11422
Points
GnipGnop 12/23/13 - 12:25 am
8
2
So correct me if I'm wrong....

Isn't fleeing a felony? Wouldn't that make any person that flees the police in the act of committing a felony? Sorry specsta there are a lot more lawbreakers than bad cops. You only hear about the bad ones not the majority which do their job and do it professionally. Thanks for the chip on your shoulder view....

myfather15
47717
Points
myfather15 12/23/13 - 06:42 am
10
1
Specsta

Yes, and Ted Bundy would still be killing women!!! Since he was stopped for a minor traffic violation, fled because he had evidence in the vehicle, then was chased and caught. MANY, MANY felons have been caught from minor traffic violation stops!!

It is NOT about showing ones authority, it's about discovering WHY they are running. It's just commone sense, law abiding, good people do NOT run from the police. Those that do, usually have MORE to hide than just the traffic violation. People just don't run from minor traffic infractions, It RARELY ever happens. There are usually underlying reasons, such as active warrants for the person, person just committed a murder we don't know about, drugs on their person, DUI, stolen car and many more.

myfather15
47717
Points
myfather15 12/23/13 - 06:49 am
8
1
Specsta

For every example YOU can provide of police misconduct, I have provide at least 2 of a police officer's heroic actions, saving lives!! Want to take that challenge? I'll start!!

http://www.easyreadernews.com/75388/el-segundo-police-officer-saves-life/

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/police-officer-saves-child-abduction-okl...

myfather15
47717
Points
myfather15 12/23/13 - 06:59 am
8
2
Thauch

"At the end of the day, he was another human being with all the faults and imperfections we all have. There seem to be a lot of rocks cast from those living in glass houses.."

Sorry dude, I'm not buying it!! I've never sold a piece of dope in my life!! I've never ran from the police, in my life!!

Thanks for reminding us he was a human being. But I'll remind people that he was a human being who made a LIVING, made PROFIT off the demise and destruction (addiction) of other peoples lives!! That, is what I call a diseased cockroach, or termite!!

You can not get a more selfish person than a drug dealer!! Of course they care about THEIR family, and their family cares about THEM. But they don't care about anyone else!! They sell poison to people, for them to ingest into their bodies, while they use the money to buy cars, video games, jewelry, and MORE DRUGS TO SELL!!

Bear - Lillian Smith
65
Points
Bear - Lillian Smith 12/23/13 - 07:02 am
8
1
As a mother, my heart breaks...

...however, Jason, at some point, made a "conscience decision" to not only risk his own life, but the lives of all around him.

I see kids on rice-rockets ALL THE TIME, weaving in and out of traffic at crazzzzzy speeds, like they are invincible. I want so much get my hands on them and just shake em, and asked them; "son, is it REALLY worth your life?"

These kids riding nothing more than organ-donors at 100 + mph is pure insanity, and it will NOT stop if they know law enforcement are not likely to chase them.

As much as my heart breaks for this mother, she needs to accept the fact that her son is responsible for his actions, NOT the officer.

Bottom line, all he had to do was "stop". He gambled his choice would save him, and sadly, "he" lost.

God be with his family in the coming days, and guide this mother through the grief process, and acceptance of her son's regrettable decision.

myfather15
47717
Points
myfather15 12/23/13 - 09:39 am
9
2
Let's see here!!

History of felony narcotics possession, check!! History of fleeing from law enforcement, check!! History of making terrible decisions, check!! Subject makes a decision to flee, which ended HIS OWN life, check!!

"Richmond county is at fault here." Huh????

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