A newly-released dash cam video from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office shows a deputy’s cruiser hitting a speeding motorcyclist who died in a resulting crash on April 19 in Summerville, South Carolina.
WCIV notes that the video appears to show Deputy James Vansant hitting the back of the motorcyclist, Robert Lee Clark, twice.
After the second time, Clark swerves to avoid hitting a bystander’s car, and crashes. Clark, who was not wearing a helmet, died at the scene; not seen in the video is Vansant’s reported attempt to revive Clark.
Both the sheriff’s office and Vansant only mentioned one bump of the cruiser against the motorcycle in their statements, but the video shows two.
According to Chief Deputy Mike Cochran, Vansant saw Clark speeding at about 11:51 p.m, notes WCSC.
Clark was reportedly going approximately 66 mph in a 45 mph zone.
When Vansant turned on his lights, Clark sped up and the chase reached over 100 miles per hour at times, according to the sheriff’s office.
A press release from the sheriff’s office says that at one point Clark hit his brakes sharply, and swerved to the right to avoid a car that had stopped for Vansant’s blue lights.
According to Corchan, Clark tried to speed up, but seemed to have missed a gear as the bike continued going slowly. These actions by Clark are what made his slowing motorcycle have contact with Vansant’s front right corner, Corchan stated, and Clark subsequently lost control of his motorcycle, hit the curb and crashed.
In the video, Clark appears to be trying to avoid the stopped car, but that is compromised after Vansant’s cruiser makes contact with the motorcycle.
The sheriff’s office and the state Highway Patrol are conducting separate investigations of the incident; Vansant is on administrative leave.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety says “a pursuit is only justified when the necessity of the apprehension of a suspect outweighs the risks created by the pursuit,” noted SC Now in 2011.
The main factors that South Carolina law enforcement are supposed to consider during a police chase are the speed involved, reason for the chase, weather and traffic conditions, and how long the pursuit goes on.
The police car must have lights and a siren, which appears to be the case in this video. The pursing officer has to immediately contact his precinct and let them know the details of the chase. There are voices heard vaguely in the video, which may have been Vansant contacting his command center.