Sheriff comments on fatal pursuit in Morgan City
MORGAN CITY, La. -- One week after Irvian Singleton Jr. of Morgan City died as he was evading law enforcement officers on Railroad Avenue, the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office released a statement on the incident, which included an explanation of its pursuit policy.
The sheriff’s spokesperson did not say what charges Singleton may have faced, but did state he was a suspect in a drug investigation.
At about 4 p.m. Oct. 10, Singleton, 44, was killed when the 1995 Mercedes Benz he was driving struck a 2009 Nissan Altima driven by Ronshawna Ruffin, 27, of Vinton.
Ruffin turned eastward onto Railroad Avenue from Oak Street. Singleton’s vehicle overturned, and both vehicles came to rest west of Oak Street. The speed limit for that portion of Railroad Avenue is 30 mph. Police have not released Singleton’s speed at the time of the crash or the identity of the owner of the Mercedes.
Ruffin was taken to Teche Regional Medical Center. She was discharged from the hospital “a couple of days later,” according to hospital spokesman Sabrina Roy.
Sheriff Mark Hebert released a statement Wednesday afternoon on the incident.
“Deputies are trained both in the academy and during the course of their employment on the driving techniques to be used while engaged in the vehicular pursuit of a fleeing suspect. To maximize the police officer’s ability to perform such a task in a safe and effective manner, it would not be productive or appropriate to disclose all techniques to potential suspects,” Sheriff Mark Hebert said.
“State law generally protects from disclosure such as security procedures, training materials and investigative techniques, and instructions and information.”
Hebert did state, however, “a deputy engaging in a vehicle pursuit must consider factors which control the methods to be used and the extent of the pursuit,” including “roadway conditions, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and the danger posed to the public by the suspect and by his or her actions in attempting to flee the officer,” and various other factors.
“Deputies are trained to use their professional judgment, training and experience in making decisions concerning pursuit methods and duration with input and guidance from supervisory personnel. The underlying concern or common thread of these considerations and decisions is the protection and preservation of public safety,” he said.
“The accident on Oct. 10 occurred when the suspect in a drug investigation, who was known to be a convicted felon and suspected of being dangerous, sped off at a high rate of speed after deputies attempted to stop the suspect’s vehicle as deputies were about to execute a search warrant at the his home. The accident occurred approximately a mile from the site of the attempted stop,” Hebert said.
“The officers who were attempting to make the stop were able to maintain visual contact with the suspect’s vehicle, but were still in the initial stages of commencing the pursuit when the suspect crashed his vehicle less than a minute later.”
Louisiana State Police are conducting an investigation of the crash.