Toledo Police engage in vehicle pursuits at a rate 350% higher than the national average, as per the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The majority of their high-speed chases often stem from minor traffic violations. The tragic case of Mohamed Souare exemplifies the severe consequences of TPD’s pursuit practices and the need for change.
A U.S. citizen and Army National Guard member, Souare was an innocent bystander who fell victim to a pursuit initiated after a minor infraction. Despite knowing the driver’s identity, residence, and only a minor offense being involved, a pursuit was initiated by TPD and conducted at speeds over 110 mph through residential neighborhoods. Ultimately, the chase ended with TPD units crashing into each other, and a fatal collision involving Mr. Souare.
Boyk Law filed a civil suit on behalf of Mr. Souare’s family in federal court. “Toledo’s pursuit practices prioritize suspect apprehension over public safety, deviating from the practices in other major cities and placing innocent citizens in harm’s way,” said the family’s attorney Charles Boyk. “Our suit not only seeks to recover wrongful death damages for Mr. Souare’s widow and his two young children but also seeks to help drive needed changes in TPD pursuit policies to protect the public.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, local police agencies nationwide conduct an average of 8 pursuits per 100 officers employed. The Toledo Police annually conducts close to 28 pursuits per 100 officers – 350% more than the national average. Most of these pursuits are for a minor traffic infraction.
Over 36% of TPD’s pursuits result in an accident. These pursuits not only result in injuries to suspects and officers but the vast majority of pursuit injuries are suffered by innocent bystanders who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While other cities restrict pursuits unless they involve violent felony offenders who present a greater and immediate danger to human life, TPD’s pursuit practices place apprehension of the fleeing suspect, not public safety, as the paramount objective. When injuries occur to innocent citizens, TPD justifies its actions and blames the fleeing driver.
Charles Boyk Law Offices filed suit against the City of Toledo on behalf of Mr. Souare’s family. We are hopeful that, in addition to bringing justice to Mr. Souare’s family, the City of Toledo is forced to confront and change its practices for the safety of the citizens it is sworn to protect.