MAN'S LICENSE WAS REVOKED - DRIVER WHO DIED DURING POLICE CHASE HAD RECORD, POSSIBLY HELD NARCOTICS
Rocky Mountain News
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Author: Brian D. Crecente News Staff Writer
A man who died in a crash while fleeing from police Sunday morning was driving with a revoked license, Westminster police said Monday.
Damien Steil , 20, of Lochbuie, was thrown from his car when it broadsided another car about 12:30 a.m.
Passenger Justin Borgeson, 20, of Lochbuie was treated at Denver Health Medical Center for minor injuries and released.
The four people in the second car were treated at the scene.
The chase started after a Westminster patrol officer, whose name was not released, tried to pull Steil over for a routine traffic stop at West 92nd Avenue and Meade Street, Westminster police spokesman Tim Torres said.
Police say Steil fled, narrowly missing a patrol car.
The chase lasted about four minutes, ending when the car driven by Steil broadsided another car in the intersection of West 100th Avenue and Huron Street.
Police said suspected narcotics were found on Steil .
According to court records, Steil pleaded guilty in 1999 to driving with a blood alcohol content between .02 and .05 under the age of 21.
Westminster police have been involved in at least three other pursuits in the past six months. Two of those ended with the suspect being shot by officers after allegedly trying to run them over.
The third incident occurred on Jan. 8 when a woman fled from police after a minor hit-and-run crash. She died when her car rolled as she tried to enter Interstate 25.
Westminster's chase policy allows an officer to pursue ``an actual or suspected violator of the law.''
Officers are also asked to consider a number of factors including the seriousness of the incident, the officers' abilities and the abilities of the person being pursued.
Investigator Troy Cooper, who conducts driving instruction at the police department, said the policy relies on an officer's judgment because the decision to pursue needs to be made case by case.
``We decided to allow the officer and on-duty sergeant to decide what's safe and what isn't instead of creating a laundry list of when they can or can't initiate a pursuit,'' Cooper said.
Sunday's crash is being investigated by the North Metro Accident Reconstruction Team, which looks into any Westminster police-involved crashes that involve serious injury, Torres said.
After that investigation is complete the police department will conduct its own administrative review, he said.