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Politics

CPD changes vehicle pursuit policy, but says it is not in response to deadly 2020 chase

WCPO newport chase photo.jpg
Jake Ryle
/
WCPO
A police chase that begin in Lower Price Hill ended in a deadly crash in Newport in August 2020.

Cincinnati officials say a new policy on vehicle pursuits is not a response to a deadly high-speed chase two years ago. That chase ended in two bystanders killed and two others severely injured when the suspect crashed his car in Newport.

Under the new rules, officers can only chase a vehicle in cases of violent felony offenses. The policy took effect a couple weeks ago.

Mayor Aftab Pureval says the discussion on changing the policy started before that incident.

"This policy is about making sure that we are trying to strike the right balance between keeping our community safe, keeping our police officers safe, and prioritizing violent crime," Pureval said.

The Newport chase would not have been allowed under the new policy. According to WCPO, Officer Timothy Lanter stopped 28-year-old Mason Meyer in Lower Price Hill at around 4 p.m. Aug. 7, 2020. Meyer was "on the radar" of federal agencies related to guns.

Meyer drove away in his car and Lanter followed, later joined by Officer Brett Thomas. The officers reached speeds up to 100 mph during the chase. Meyer crashed his vehicle outside Press Café, hitting Raymond and Gayle Laible, who both died, and Steven and Maribeth Klein, who were severely injured.

Interim Police Chief Theresa Theetge says before this chase, then-Chief Eliot Isaac convened a symposium of the 42 law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County with the goal of creating a county-wide policy on police pursuits.

"It was determined after a few efforts that 42 police chiefs could not come into agreement with exactly how a county-wide pursue policy should look," Theetge said. "And so at that time was when Chief Isaac — while he was still here, and now moving forward with myself — have decided OK, but Cincinnati is going to be innovative, we are going to take the necessary steps to mitigate the risk involving [and] around vehicle pursuits."

The Laible and Klein families are suing the city, CPD and the specific officers involved. The suit accuses officers of putting other vehicles, passengers and pedestrians at risk, according to WCPO.

Interim City Manager John Curp declined to comment this week on the active litigation.