Baltimore County police investigators have cleared the officers involved in a high-speed car chase March 16 that began in Woodlawn and ended with the death of a teen-age passenger when the fleeing car crashed several miles inside the city.
Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger said the department's investigation began right after the death of Raymond C. Wilson, 16, of the 3200 block of Gulfport Drive.
The youth was thrown from the 1989 Ford Escort when it struck a curb in the 5000 block of Edmondson Ave., became airborne and struck several trees -- splitting in half. The driver of the car, Jason Michael Guy, 18, of the 5000 block of Hillburn Ave., later pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in the case.
Sergeant Doarnberger said the county investigated the incident to determine whether its pursuit policy had been followed by Officer Steven M. Petersen, who first chased the speeding Escort, as well as an officer who joined the chase and their acting sergeant.
County police usually stop a chase once the vehicles enter the city, but, Sergeant Doarnberger said, "We do not have a no-pursuit policy."
"Whether or not to pursue is based upon the seriousness of the violation, traffic, road and weather conditions," he said. "Also, there is a responsibility upon supervisors to monitor pursuits, and they have the authority to call them off at any time."
"The investigation," the sergeant said, "was started because of the length of the pursuit, but the findings were that there were enough mitigating factors to justify the length of the pursuit." He said the early-morning traffic had been light and the weather good. There was no slipping and sliding during the chase, and Officer Peterson was going slowly enough to call out street names -- even spelling some -- as he drove along.
Police said the chase began at 1:45 a.m. after Officer Petersen saw two cars speeding at Windsor Mill Road and Featherbed Lane. He pursued one of them at speeds reaching more than 60 mph.
Once on Edmondson Avenue, Sergeant Doarnberger said, the police slowed down and the Escort speeded up. The driver was about half a mile ahead of the police when his car crashed in the 2900 block.
Guy, driving his mother's car without her permission, was charged by city police with manslaughter in the death of the Wilson youth, who had been reported a runaway by his family.
Guy pleaded guilty and was ordered to serve six months of a three-year sentence by Baltimore Circuit Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe last month, according to city court records.