WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Reports filed in connection with the recent police chase on the campus of UNCW conflict with what police dash cam video show.
After a chase, officers involved are required to meet with the supervisor as well as anyone else with information on the chase to critique the actions and write a report. In the report the officer is responsible for listing the "actual speed for each street.
Officer Nathan Hodge listed his speed as 15mph as he chased a motorcycle along Chancellor's Walk for failing to pull over. After a public records request, UNCW turned over the dash cam video from the incident that showed the officer's speed during the incident.
Dash cam video shows that the only time Hodge's car was going 15mph was as he was turning onto Chancellor's Walk and as he as he was getting off. The video goes on to show that his maximum speed on the pedestrian walk way was 36mph, more than twice as fast as listed on the report.
Written statements by others involved in the chase differ from what the video shows.
Officer K. Mariotti, a trainee, was in the vehicle with Hodge said in a statement, "When Officer Hodge entered Chancellors Walk, I observed that there appeared to be light pedestrian foot traffic. At this time Officer Hodge backed off some from the dirt bike. I estimate his speed to have been around 10 mile per hour."
UNCW Chief of Police David Donaldson, along with the supervising officer, and the division commander signed off on the report that gets forwarded to the Professional Standards Unit.
According to a spokesperson for UNCW, Donaldson is looking into the speed discrepancy.
The report also confirms that Officer Hodge's pursuit of the motorcycle was against official university policy. Lieutenant A. Pauluck, the supervising officer, concluded in the report that "after review of this incident it was determined that this pursuit did not meet policy."
According to the UNCW chase policy, officers can chase an offender if the "violator has committed a violent felony or the violator poses an immediate threat of serious injury to the public."
The policy clearly states officers should not begin pursuit for "suspects of non-violent crimes, motor vehicle offense, if operating a motorcycle, hazard outweighs necessity of apprehension, does not present an imminent threat to life."
According to the policy the officer's immediate obligation in a vehicle pursuit is to ensure the safety of the public. The policy says the officer should consider the degree of risk created by a pursuit by the population density and volume of pedestrian traffic and the nature of the area.
The UNCW chase policy goes on to say the pursuit should end immediately if "pedestrian related condition increases the danger of pursuit beyond the worth of apprehending the suspects; danger to the public outweighs the value of apprehending the subject."
A spokesperson for UNCW said the investigation is finished. To this point, no disciplinary action has been taken against Officer Hodge or anyone else involved.
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