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Pursuit policy probed in wake of crash

Published: Tue, June 7, 2011 @ 12:03 a.m.


Under the Youngstown Police Department’s pursuit policy, police must consider the following factors in deciding whether to initiate or continue a pursuit of a fleeing suspect:

The seriousness of the offense.

Traffic density.

Road and weather conditions.

Opportunity to arrest the violator at a later time.

Safety of the public, officers and the suspect.

Ability to arrest without engaging in a pursuit.

Availability of pursuit- ending equipment, such as stop-sticks that deflate a fleeing vehicle’s tires.

Source: Youngstown Police Department

By Peter H. Milliken



The city police department has launched an internal-affairs investigation into the early morning police pursuit that ended in the death of a 19-year-old woman who crashed a speeding stolen car into a Wick Avenue church Sunday.

Lt. Brian Butler, who heads the internal-affairs division, said he has begun the probe by asking for the 911 tapes pertaining to the chase.

After an autopsy Monday by Dr. Joseph Ohr, Mahoning County’s forensic pathologist and deputy coroner, the coroner’s office ruled the death of Satavia Douglass of Southern Boulevard accidental due to head injuries from the crash.

The purpose of the probe, which Butler said he hopes can be completed in about two weeks, is to determine whether police involved in the chase correctly followed the department’s pursuit policy.

That complex policy, governing split-second decisions police must make before and during a vehicular chase, consumes seven single-spaced, typed pages and lists a multitude of factors police must consider.

“You have to look at the totality of the circumstances of the chase” to determine the proper course of action, Butler said, promising “a very thorough” probe.

Police must balance the need to apprehend the suspect with the need to protect bystanders’ safety, he explained. “We rely on our supervisors for direct supervision to do that,” he added.

The probe will examine the actions of the pursuing patrolmen, Arthur Carter, and James Rowley, and their turn commander, Lt. Douglas Bobovynik, who monitored the chase. The officers involved in the chase remain on duty as the matter is investigated.

Police responded shortly after midnight Saturday to a reported break-in and car theft at Jordan’s Auto Sales, a used car dealership at 839 Wick Ave.

Police saw the car, a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer estimated to be worth $1,200, leave the dealership, jump a curb and speed south on Wick Avenue, without its headlights or taillights shining, Carter wrote in the police report.

With city police pursuing, with lights and sirens activated, Douglass lost control near Lincoln Avenue and swerved several times, the report said.

After hitting a retaining wall and going airborne for 105 feet over the church lawn, the stolen car crashed into First Presbyterian Church, 201 Wick Ave.

The police report put Douglass’ speed at more than 50 mph, but Rye Dalton, church treasurer, said police at the scene estimated the fleeing car’s speed at 80 to 100 mph.

C. Allen Pierce, professor of criminal justice at Youngstown State University, a former police officer and police academy pursuit- driving instructor, said he would have pursued the driver of the stolen car under these circumstances if he were an officer on duty.

“It’s a felony in progress. There’s no reason not to,” he said. “You’d be neglecting your duty if you didn’t [follow the fleeing driver],” he said. Police lights and sirens would be necessary to warn the public of the errant driver, he added.

Police policy generally calls for chasing fleeing felons, and the driver of the fleeing car would appear to fit that description, Butler said. Generally, police policy calls for aborting a chase if continuing it is likely to injure innocent bystanders, Butler said.

Sgt. Patricia Garcar, accident investigator, declined comment because the crash still is under investigation.


1paniquimarine(6 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

As sad as it is that a young 19-year old woman had to lose her life, as a former police officer, I would have continued the pursuit based on the following:

1. The time of the crime was at midnight. This factor greatly diminishes the chances of an innocent by-stander being involved .

2. The police, in their pursuit, used lights and sirens in an attempt to get the young lady to stop and to warn other vehicle drivers that may be on the street to pull over.

3. Ohio police officers are trained in pursuit driving and how to handle their vehicle under pressure. Unfortunately, this young lady was not.

4. The seriousness of the crime - a felony in progress. The young lady had committed a serious violation of Ohio laws. Police officers cannot allow all felons to go free because they may get hurt or killed.

5. This young lady made her choice to jeopardize her life, as well as the lives of the pursuing officers and any other driver or pedestrian that may have been on the street.

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2jgm820(130 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I completely agree. On top of that, from the location of the stolen vehicle to the crash site is less than a mile. It's not like they chased her to Boardman.

Very sad, but sometimes bad choices have very bad consequences. Prayers to her family and loved ones.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Why try blaming the police for the death of Satavia A. Douglass ? Myself and others have warned for years that the SouthSide is heavily populated by people predisposed to crime due to their economic situation . Hope for them can be restored with jobs . Welfare robs them of any desire to be productive and law abiding . Jobs and productivity for the SouthSide are in Youngstown's best interest .

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4FormerYtownTeacher(2 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Satavia didn't grow up on the southside, but true that jobs are needed in this area.

I remember Satavia as a middle school student, trying to hide away at school so she could sleep there rather than go home. I tutored her during my lunch period, as she was painfully far behind the other 7th graders. Such a tragic end to a tragic childhood. Prayers go out to those who loved her - many school personnel among them.

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5ElPolloRetrasado(209 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Lesson, DON'T RUN FROM THE COPS OR COMMIIT FELONIES!!! Pretty cut and dry if your not an idiot!

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6reader1(19 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Stan, it seems that u have an opinion on just about every article that deals with the southside of Youngstown. If u r so concerned about that side of town as ALL of ur negative comments seem to suggest and i repeat ALL , i wonder y u won't do something positive on the southside so that the Vindicator can do an article on you.

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

reader1 :

Perhaps you should contact City Hall . Jay Williams is the man in charge . Suggest to him that the SouthSide has been ignored for far too long and now is the time to recognize that the years of problems are causing the people living there unbearable burdens . If you do any good I'll lobby The Vindy to publish an article profiling your endeavors .

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8reader1(19 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

@commoncitizen....you understood the message didn't you? Plus you knew it was texting so does that mean you are dumb?

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9whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I think its funny how people up-class Boardman around here. To all you people with your nose in the air google image of earth you are a little speck on a great mass. Better yet fill up your car with fuel and drive it north south east or west when you run out of gas , meet the people around you, they will talk different, eat different and have different values. Wake up .... the girl was out thuggin and muggin, she lived by the sword and she fell on it.....

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10Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

This is a felony in progress. The police did no wrong in the pursuit. Just not even be under investigation. Case closed.


What is your fascination with Stan? I would be worried if I was Stan. Just not right targeting Stan in just about every article he comments on. Just saying...

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11reader1(19 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

@Lifes2Short...NOT targeting Stan. I just wonder why someone always has a comment about how life is in the 'HOOD' Its a good thing you are not Stan then huh? So no need to worry........

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12Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

reader1 :

"@Lifes2Short...NOT targeting Stan. I just wonder why someone always has a comment about how life is in the 'HOOD' Its a good thing you are not Stan then huh? So no need to worry........"

I am an expert on life in the hood . So, what's happenin ?

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13Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


"Its a good thing you are not Stan then huh? So no need to worry........"

Now why would I want to be Stan? Don't make sense.

"Only two things in are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

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14reader1(19 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

@Life2Short..I read a lot of your comments so don't pat yourself on the back. Its one thing when people think you are stupid,its another thing when you open your mouth and remove all doubt.

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15reader1(19 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

@Bplus...i read your comments also. So i know you should not be opening your mouth either

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16reader1(19 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

@Bplus...my bad Bplus i see that they removed most of your comments. I wonder why. Let that be a lesson to you.

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17Bplus(103 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

@reader1..Congratulations, you can read! They removed 2 comments...only because i said a "bad word" in the eyes of the Vindy...also, I was simply pointing out that every comment you've made in the past 4 hours was directed towards Stan. I apologize for stooping down to your level and commenting at people and not the story, that was a character flaw on my behalf. With that said, how about commenting on the story and not at Stan's comments. Ah, I did it again. For censorship's sake, you're still a d.b. :)

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18Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


"Its one thing when people think you are stupid,its another thing when you open your mouth and remove all doubt."

If you really want to be heard with your opinions on the matter of the subject, make some sense in your comments, not childish comments or stalking a user.
So grow up and move out of your parents basement and say something useful for a change. smh at a the useless reader.

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