Woman injured in police chase in 2018 wants changes to CMPD’s policy after this week’s pursuit

“Charlotte is way too big of a city and it’s too densely populated to carry out these kinds of car chases.”
A local woman who was injured by someone fleeing police four years ago believes CMPD needs to change its pursuit policy.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 8:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Yesterday’s wild police chase brought back tough memories for one Charlotte woman who was badly injured four years ago when she was hit by a suspect fleeing police on the exact same road where yesterday’s chase ended in another crash.

Kara Sheaffer is still going through pain and PTSD from the crash, so she’s not able to watch the most recent chase. She believes the hours-long pursuit was another example of what needs to change to protect the public.

“Basically, what they did yesterday shows me there was not progress at all,” Sheaffer said.

The police chase in Charlotte was a trigger for her, and this August marks four years since she was hit by someone fleeing police. The force of the crash injured her neck and ultimately changed her life.

“There are days I can’t function at all, I have pain that goes down my right arm and my right arm will be useless,” Sheaffer said.

The crash and injuries sustained put her out of work.

She said the victims of the stolen cars and those hit by the suspect yesterday will never forget this moment.

“Their lives are not the same now, nor will they ever be because this person was going to do whatever it took to get away from the police,” Sheaffer said.

“I will say that our policy was follow precisely,” CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said.

That policy prevented CMPD from chasing the suspect until they thought he hijacked an SUV with someone inside. It was later found that wasn’t the case. The chief stood by officers following at a distance with the helicopter above.

“There’s no way to say that a pursuit would have stopped this type of driving, so yeah, it possibly could have been worse,” Chief Jennings said.

After Sheaffer’s experience being hit by a suspect fleeing police, she believes CMPD should have stopped the chase from a distance and by air.

“Following at a distance doesn’t mean anything, the person knows they’re being chased, they have a helicopter overhead,” Sheaffer said. “Charlotte is way too big of a city and it’s too densely populated to carry out these kinds of car chases.”

She feels it’s still a risk to the public.

Jennings said the pursuit policy was just updated this spring, and it doesn’t appear yesterday’s chase would trigger a change, but the incident will be reviewed.

Related: Police identify suspects in hours-long high-speed chase in Charlotte

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