Garrett William Nee, 29, appeared in court to face charges of murder and manslaughter stemming from a police chase that occurred on June 19, 2016. He pleaded not guilty.
The incident happened in Montgomery County. Nee fled Sgt. Stacey Baumgartner, of the Patton Village Police Department, for approximately six miles. The chase culminated in a deadly crash at FM 1485 and Texas 242.
Chasing Nee, Sgt. Baumgartner, with his emergency lights on, followed Nee through a red-light. The police vehicle was “T-boned” there by a Chevrolet Suburban containing seven family members. One of them, 11-year old Adan Hilario, Jr., was killed. He was pronounced dead at the scene. In addition, Sgt. Baumgartner, who was rushed to the hospital, was pronounced dead en route.
The Department of Public Safety reported that Sgt. Baumgartner had not slowed down as he entered the intersection.
This terrible case reminds us of the extreme risks posed by high-speed police chases. Suspects must stop if pulled over by the police; when they do not, they should be prosecuted fully for the offense of fleeing. Their unsafe conduct jeopardizes themselves, law enforcement, and innocent citizens, as this case reveals.
In addition, local leaders and law enforcement officials must review their policies on high-speed chases. They must balance the alternative strategies to apprehending fleeing suspects with the hazards imposed upon themselves and other motorists by police chases. Police departments across the nation have investigated this very issue and have formulated procedures designed to catch suspects and protect other users of the roadways. It is time to seriously consider these alternatives.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.