By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -
A 32-year-old KCK man has been charged in a police chase that wound through highways and streets on both sides of the state line.
Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome A. Gorman charged Rodney L. Houston on Thursday with one count of eluding a police officer. Houston has a lengthy rap sheet with multiple outstanding warrants.
Kansas City police said they tried to stop the silver Nissan Xterra SUV to question Houston about a recent robbery and auto thefts.
Speeds reached up to 100 mph.
During the chase, Houston veered through parking lots and narrowly avoided other vehicles around rush hour Wednesday as he headed into oncoming traffic.
He also sped past playground equipment in a park and through residential neighborhoods.
The pursuit came to an end after the fleeing driver's sport utility vehicle clipped another SUV and crashed in the 5100 block of Georgia Avenue.
Houston was caught after stumbling out of the SUV. He tried to hide behind bushes at a nearby home.
Houston is in the Wyandotte County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.
Representatives for both the KCK and Kansas City police departments defended the chase, saying they had little choice but to continue the pursuit. They said the driver had put lives in danger, and they needed to do what they could to get him stopped.
But an innocent man injured in the chase questioned whether police should have continued, saying a child could have been hurt.
KCMO police Sgt. Mike Foster said officers "tried to do a rouse, set up a meeting with this guy and he took off on us."
The Kansas City Police Department's policy says speed of traffic, presence of pedestrians, schools, parks and the safety of the public must be taken into consideration during chases. The police states pursuits should be terminated when a chase creates a danger to the public or officers that outweighs the need to capture a suspect.
Damon Harlin suffered back and shoulder injuries when the Range Rover driven by his brother was hit by the suspect's vehicles. He thinks police should have called off the pursuit sooner.
"When you go through a park with children, that's when you should call it off, point blank," he said. "That's when you decide the chase is off. There shouldn't be any second guessing. When they were in ongoing traffic, (they should call off). I'm sure there were children in 80 percent of those vehicles. The chase should have been called off a long time ago."
He said he wouldn't be facing medical bills if police had called off the chase sooner.
The KCPD's policy gives officers involved in a chase and their supervisor discretion.
Capt. Steve Young, a spokesman for the police department, said officers chose to continue the chase because they were pursuing a robbery suspect who had multiple felony warrants. He said the pursuit was conducted in accordance with the department's policy.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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