Shortly after 12:30 a.m. this morning a Volusia County Sheriffs deputy saw Marlon Brown driving without a seatbelt, and attempted to pull him over. When Brown kept driving, the deputy gave up pursuit while reporting a fleeing vehicle. Almost immediately, reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal, officers with the DeLand Police Department (the county and city share a dispatch system) said they'd spotted the vehicle and began their own pursuit. What happened next absolutely should not have:
Two DeLand police officers got behind the car as it headed west on Beresford Avenue. Brown did not stop and made a left turn on South Delaware Avenue, a dead-end street that ends near an empty lot. Brown stopped the car and ran from it, as one DeLand patrol car stopped behind Brown's Toyota Camry. The other patrol car, driven by Officer Harris, drove past on the left of the other stopped patrol car and struck Brown, who was running, with the right front, Montes said.
Harris then ran over Brown, killing him on the spot, Montes said.
At the scene behind some apartment buildings at 901 S. Delaware Ave., tire tracks lead from the paved road into the empty lot for more than a hundred yards, running over bean plants and knocking down a chain link fence. This is where witness Sabrina Waldron said the car stopped on top of Brown.
Waldron said Brown's car pulled along the woods and stopped.
"There was no need to run him down," Waldron said. "After the car hit Marlon and landed on him the back end of it was up in the air."
The Deland Police Department is refusing to comment on the case until the Florida Highway Patrol concludes its investigation. The only information it's released at this point is that the officer who killed Brown, 25-year-old James Harris, has been on the job since August, has an otherwise clean record, and is now suspended. As for Brown: One explanation for his decision to not pull over may be that his license was suspended and he was on probation. But really: Chasing people over seatbelt violations? Isn't that a bit much?
This incident–like the one Brian Doherty noted in which a NYPD patrol car pursuing a dirt bike slammed into it and killed one of the passengers–didn't need to happen. But it seems DeLand police simply aren't very good at chasing pedestrian suspects.