EDITORIAL: Avoidable death

The death of Mississippi State Trooper Steve Hood in the line of duty late Friday tragically illustrates the ever-present dangers and risks required of law enforcement officers in many situations, including some in which no firearm is drawn or fired.
Hood, 50, a 28-year veteran of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, died when his cruiser wrecked during a high-speed chase on Mississippi Highway 370 at Brice’s Crossroads, a community west of Baldwyn.
One man, William Francis, 25, has been charged with felony fleeing and manslaughter. He is identified as the driver of what police described as a performance-enhanced Pontiac Trans-Am that raced ahead of Hood’s car at speeds well over 100 mph.
Hood had spotted the Trans-Am speeding, and he gave chase.
Hood’s death was made emphatically more emotionally painful because he had narrowly survived a life-threatening off-duty tractor accident in 2008 that required extensive recuperation. He had returned to duty earlier in 2009 even though he was officially eligible for retirement from the Highway Patrol.
Bond for Francis has been set at $1 million in Lee County Justice Court, but it should be noted he has not been proven guilty.
Mississippi law related to fleeing from law enforcement involved in lawful pursuit is worth noting because of this deadly situation:
n “Any person who is guilty of violating … this section by operating a motor vehicle in such a manner as to indicate a reckless or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property, or who so operates a motor vehicle in a manner manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by commitment to the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for not more than five (5) years, or both.
- “Any person who is guilty of violating subsection (1) of this section, which violation results in serious bodily injury of another, upon conviction shall be committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than three (3) nor more than twenty (20) years of imprisonment.
- “Any person who is guilty of violating subsection (1) of this section, which violation results in the death of another, upon conviction shall be committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than five (5) nor more than forty (40) years.”
Fleeing an officer in any situation is stupid. And sometimes it becomes fatal, for the pursuer and/or the pursued.

NEMS Daily Journal