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Blame the Car Thief for Little Girl's Death

June 07, 2002

Re "Explanation for Fatal Chase Offered," June 5: The death of 4-year-old Evelyn Vargas, while extremely tragic, was not caused by the act of a police officer pursuing a fleeing suspect. Make no mistake about it; this was not a traffic accident. This was a premeditated act by the driver of the stolen BMW who purposely chose not to stop for the police. This suspect decided to hurtle down a busy street in a 2,000-plus-pound "missile" without regard to anyone's safety.

Place the blame squarely where it belongs--on the driver of the stolen car who failed to obey the law. If he had stopped, or better yet, if he had never stolen the car, this incident would not have happened.

Sgt. Scott Anderson

Maywood Police Department

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The chase was "well within policy," said a commander of the LAPD (June 2), yet another parent lost a child. How many dead children, spouses, brothers or sisters will it take for the LAPD to change its policy on car pursuits? Why risk the death and injury of innocent bystanders to catch a car thief?

We have to trust our police officers to make on-the-spot decisions, but I believe that we need to demand that the officers on the street get better guidelines from their superiors on when the risk of not apprehending a suspect outweighs the perils of a pursuit. I think retrieving a stolen car is not worth the risk of any life.

Gerlinde Gautrey

Topanga

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The LAPD did not force anyone to steal a BMW from the Hollywood area; the individual concerned chose to do that of his own free will. When officers encountered the individual driving the stolen BMW, they did not force him to speed away. And when the officers did their job and pursued the stolen vehicle and a crime in progress, they did not force the driver to run the red light at 6th and Spring streets. The LAPD did not kill Evelyn Vargas; the person who stole the BMW, ran from the LAPD and failed to stop at a red light is the one who killed her.

It could be argued that if the LAPD had not chased the stolen BMW the driver may not have run the red light and the little girl would still be alive today; but if the driver had not stolen the BMW, the LAPD would have had no reason to chase him.

If my 2-year-old son had been killed Saturday, I would be grief-stricken, but I would not blame the LAPD; I would blame the driver of the stolen BMW. It was his decisions--made with his own free will--that directly caused the tragic death of Evelyn Vargas.

John Pattison

Los Angeles

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