Motorcyclist accused of fleeing Hickory police, ending in deadly crash, appears in court
“If he hadn’t have run, if he hadn’t have run, then my daughter and grandson wouldn’t be killed.”
HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) - The man Hickory police said caused a high-speed chase that ended with a deadly crash faced a judge Tuesday on charges of trying to elude officers.
Investigators said Chanceler Johnson failed to stop his motorcycle, leading to a chase that ended when a police car slammed into a minivan, killing a mother and her son.
One thing that was quickly learned is there are no easy answers in the case. Some believe the motorcyclist is to blame for everything, while others said bad decisions on both sides contributed to what happened.
The cause of that loss is what’s up for debate in Hickory. Cynthia Fox and her son Michael were out making a DoorDash delivery along a stretch of Highway 70 on Sept. 8 when the unthinkable happened - a high-speed police pursuit headed right for them.
Shawn Davis lives in the area and said officers have a difficult job, and sometimes even harder calls.
“Easy for me to be Monday morning quarterback but these guys have a decision, split second,” Davis said.
At the Mountain Friend Chicken Restaurant, they not only knew what happened, but some of the family members affected were long-time customers.
“Tragedies like this can really rally a community.” Jamie Torres said.
When it comes to the rules of pursuit involving police, officers are given guidance on when to chase and when to back off. Some feel those policies could be revisited.
“You’ve got to have police to control those who break the law, but they’ve got to use discretion,” area resident Ronnie Taylor said.
Hickory Police said Ofc. Atia Mohamed was pursuing a motorcycle driven by Johnson for reckless driving and not having a visible tag. The patrol car, said to be going 100 miles an hour, struck a minivan at 95 miles an hour, according to the crash report, pushing it nearly 300 feet off the road.
Johnson appeared in front of a judge in Hickory on Tuesday. The defendant, wearing a face mask after recovering from COVID-19, stood somber as the judge read off the charges against him.
While he originally came in with an attorney, Johnson asked the judge to grant him a public defender. Outside, he had nothing to say.
But while the accused remained silent, the victim’s mother had plenty to say about what happened.
“If he hadn’t have run, if he hadn’t have run, then my daughter and grandson wouldn’t be killed,” Beth Fox said.
Johnson will be back in front of a judge on Oct. 17.
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