The mother of one of three men killed during a 2014 police chase is suing police agencies involved in the Missouri pursuit, insisting her son was an “innocent bystander” in the vehicle and had begged police to call off the freeway chase.
Toya Steed’s lawsuit alleges Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and Pevely officers negligently caused the death Lavoy Savalas Steed, who she said told her by telephone during the Interstate 55 chase south of St. Louis that pursuers were aggravating matters.
“The faster they chase us … the faster this dude goes,” the lawsuit alleges Lavoy Steed told his mother of the fleeing SUV’s driver before that vehicle crashed, ending the 25-mile chase involving speeds that reached 125 mph.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, also alleges the pursuers used excessive force and had “reckless disregard” for the risk of injury possible in such a chase. It seeks at least $75,000 in damages.
Associated Press calls seeking comment from Pevely police were directed to that city’s legal counsel, who didn’t return messages left Friday. The Highway Patrol also didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The patrol has said an officer initially stopped the SUV driven by 18-year-old Jeromy Goode on I-55 for traveling at speeds exceeding 90 mph. But Goode then sped away, launching the chase in which he three times managed to elude spiked strips authorities laid in his path in hopes of flattening the SUV’s tires.
Along the way, the lawsuit alleges, Lavoy Steed called his mother, telling her Goode wouldn’t let him or the other two passengers out of the vehicle. Toya Steed said she reported that to a 911 dispatcher, then called her son back and heard her beg Goode to “stop running man” and to let him out.
“Momma, he still won’t stop. Are they gonna stop chasing us?” the lawsuit alleges Lavoy Steed told his mother. “Police tell them to stop chasing us.”
He was still on the phone with his mother when the SUV crashed, killing him, the lawsuit says.
“Law enforcement officers must, in their constant deliberations of analysis of high speed chases, discontinue the pursuit when it becomes apparent that the pursuit itself represents a more grave danger than letting the suspect of a minor traffic violation go,” the lawsuit alleges.
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