FLINT, Michigan (WNEM) - High-speed pursuits continue to be scrutinized as they can lead to the arrest of a criminal but can also have deadly consequences for people caught in the path.
Michigan State Police changed its policies four years ago, but a chase in 2014 that ended tragically for one family is the subject of a lawsuit.
"She was real, joyful," said Quavon Trawick.
Trawick is describing his late mother as dedicated and loved. He says she was a victim of a crash during a police pursuit and now the case for justice has started back up in civil court.
"I was into sports so she was at all the events," Trawick said. "She was a teen mom, so she's like all the kids, loved her. The other parents loved her."
Trawick says his mother, Tiphanie Mayfield, was killed in 2014. He says the Michigan State Police were on a high-speed chase through a residential neighborhood in Flint while trying to apprehend a suspect after a driving offense.
Trawick says a trooper accidentally crashed into the car his mother was in.
"So mom actually had a fractured skull. It was like a lot of stuff was messed up. Her bone, her spine was out of place," Trawick said.
Mayfield died days later. After delays in the courts because of COVID-19, attorney Robin Wagner says they are going through discovery and waiting on a policing expert report that will prove how MSP's policies impacted communities of color.
"The streets of Flint were two to three times and these other cities were two to three times more dangerous, risk of injuries and death than anywhere else in the state," Wagner said.
MSP changed its policy on police pursuits in 2017. Wagner said data has proved the streets are now less dangerous.
"When you put in place a policy that restricts discretion, it requires the police officers to check in with supervisors and only imitate these searches when there are these vehicle chases," Wagner said. "Rather when there's significant risk to the rest of the population that requires it. So then you see it, the danger drop off."
MSP declined to comment since it's part of an ongoing litigation, but they did forward their current policy that states it's always better for officers to abandon or delay a pursuit than to risk harm to innocent civilians.
Even though no amount of money can reverse what happened to his mother, Trawick believes if they win this case it could bring his family a tiny sliver of peace.
"We just hope it's a learning process for them," Trawick said.
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