Durham County

Durham police involved in fatal pursuit followed policy

Durham police and other first responders are shown at the Riddle Road site of a fatal wreck involving a passenger car and a tractor-trailer on Jan. 26, 2017.
Durham police and other first responders are shown at the Riddle Road site of a fatal wreck involving a passenger car and a tractor-trailer on Jan. 26, 2017. Special to The Herald-Sun

A review of a fatal January police car chase found officers’ actions were “reasonable” and complied with state law and Durham Police Department policy.

“Traffic was not at a busy time during the evening,” states the investigative summary of the Jan. 26, 16-second police pursuit of a stolen car that ended with a crash, killing 26-year-old Patrick Edward Timberlake. “The driver of the vehicle attempted to elude police on Riddle Road at a high rate of speed causing the car to crash.”

Around 10:03 p.m. undercover officers spotted two vehicles, one black and one red, being driven around a business they were watching, the summary states. The officers, who were in an unmarked car, followed the black Chrysler 200 north on South Alston Avenue.

The Chrysler had been reported stolen at gunpoint the night before. It also matched the description of a vehicle that had been involved in an armed robbery of a business less than 30 minutes earlier.

The undercover officers asked marked police vehicles to assist with a traffic stop.

Two officers in separate cars responded.

Around 10:10 p.m. one of the officers activated his police lights and pulled behind the Chrysler.

The driver of the Chrysler, later identified as Timberlake, turned onto Riddle Road and then “rapidly accelerated away,” the summary states.

The driver then lost control, ran off the road to the left and hit a ditch, police have said. The Chrysler then flipped on its side and slid until it struck a parked box truck. Timberlake was pronounced dead at the scene, they said.

There were no other occupants.

An analysis indicates Timberlake was traveling 82 miles per hour and the officer’s car was about 220 feet from the Chrysler. The report didn’t say how fast the officer was traveling.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

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