Death Raises Questions about High Speed Police Chases - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Death Raises Questions about High Speed Police Chases

YAKIMA, Wash -- Edgar Mendoza was driving two friends on Sunday when a stolen car being chased by police slammed into their car at the intersection of Nob Hill Blvd and 48th Ave.

Now, Mendoza and Juan Hernadez-Orgtega are fighting for their lives.  Another passenger Guillermo Aguilar is dead.

The accident has many asking if police should engage in high speed chases. They say there is a sliding scale for pursuits.

"The main factor in the sliding scale," saidCapt. Greg Copeland, of the Yakima Police Department, "is how severe the initial offense that led to the pursuit was."  

Copeland says Yakima Police will likely chase a bank robber or another felon suspect, but not someone who runs a red light. Yakima police have engaged in 41 chases this year-- 22 of them have ended with a crash.

"We always have to balance the risk posed to the public by the pursuit versus the crime we are chasing for," said Copeland.