Call

Blog

Law
02

Blog

Investigating the Police Chase That Caused a Bicycle Fatality in Atlanta

Andrew Whitlock was killed on November 6, 2017, while riding his bike. He was 37 years old. His killer was driving a station wagon and was fleeing from police who had attempted to stop him for questioning due to his “suspicious behavior,” according to news reports on the subject.

The person who killed Andrew Whitlock abandoned the car he was driving and fled the scene on foot. He has not, as of the time this article, been identified or caught. The area of this occurrence is surrounded by buildings with security cameras that may offer help in identifying the driver. We’re hoping that the driver will be brought to justice swiftly and that he will be held fully accountable for his brutal and callous actions that caused the death of an innocent member of the Atlanta cycling community.

Investigating the Circumstances of a Police Chase

Beyond just bringing the driver to justice, however, there needs to be a thorough investigation into the underlying circumstances that led to the driver fleeing the police in the first place. Georgia law imposes strict rules on police chases that, if not adhered to, can result in liability of the police officer and department for the damages that are caused to innocent bystanders. The basic analysis can be simplified this way: the police officer’s vehicle is a gun, the fleeing vehicle is a bullet that was fired out of the gun. If the gun was discharged properly, then there’s no liability for where the bullet lands. If the gun was discharged improperly or recklessly, then the shooter is responsible for the damage caused by the bullet.

One of the ways to analyze the situation is to measure the relative potential for harm that the driver presents to the public at large. For example, an armed robbery suspect who fired a gun in the course of his getaway and is driving away from the crime scene presents an imminent threat to the general public, whereas a driver who simply rolled through a stop sign does not present the same threat. A high-speed chase may be justified in the first instance but certainly not in the second.

At this point, there’s been no information released to the public that would indicate any improper actions on the part of the APD officers that were involved. Still, in the interest of being thorough, we should all hope that the investigation is going beyond just trying to apprehend the missing driver and is analyzing every aspect of the underlying events that led to his flight from the officers.

Like most police departments, City of Atlanta PD has a protocol that sets out department guidelines for pursuing motor vehicles. You can see the specifics here. Whether the officers in Andrew Whitlock’s case complied with the guidelines should be part of the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death.

One of the tricky things, of course, is that the investigation into the underlying circumstances of the event is generally being conducted by members of the same police department that ultimately could be deemed to have some responsibility for the damage done. Accordingly, it can often be useful to have an independent investigation into the facts to avoid any concern over a potential conflict of interest.

None of this is intended to say that the heartless actions of the hit & run driver who left Andrew Whitlock dead in the street shouldn’t be held accountable for his actions. But if the underlying pursuit of the driver should never have occurred in the first place, then that driver is not alone in being responsible for Andrew Whitlock’s death. Andrew’s family, at the very least, deserves answers to these questions.

Featured Photo Credit: BikeFriendlyATL

Comments

Waller Bike Crash Carnage
Rachael Maney Oct 02, 2021

PRESS RELEASE FROM BIKE LAW’S NATIONAL DIRECTOR RACHAEL MANEY In light of the recent Waller Bike Crash in Texas, and in an effort to help untangle and unpack some of the emotionally-charged comments, questions, and inaccurate assumptions being made, we want to update you on the parts that we can share. I hope that this […]

Read More
Brother James
Peter Wilborn Sep 29, 2021

23 years ago today, the world lost my brother Jim. He was killed on his bike by an under-aged driver who blew through a red light. While the years don’t really blunt the loss, they foster gratitude for the gifts left behind. My brother blessed me with so much, but 3 things stand out:   […]

Read More
Family bicycle charity
Bike Law Aug 17, 2021

GUEST POST BY BIKE LAW AMBASSADOR KURT AREHART The bike charity Raleigh Community Kickstand, or just Kickstand for short, is a four year-old project organized under Oaks & Spokes, a 501(c)(3) engaged in fostering cycling in Raleigh. Kickstand channels donated bicycles to low-income and homeless members of our community whose lives can be improved with […]

Read More
Contributory negligence Bike crash
Ann Groninger May 08, 2021

If you’ve met me, you’ve heard talk about contributory negligence many times, including here and here and here. My vocation and my passion as a bike crash attorney is representing injured bicyclists and families of bicyclists who have been killed by careless drivers. Contributory negligence severely impairs the right of these individuals and bicyclists to […]

Read More
Asian-American Triathlete
Rachael Maney May 04, 2021

Bike Month 2021 is setting the bar pretty high. Two days ago, Sika Henry became the first Black woman to earn her pro card in the sport of triathlon. And today, Bike Law and I are honored and excited to announce our sponsorship of the only Asian-American racing on the professional triathlon circuit, Clarice Chastang […]

Read More
Cycliq video close call
Rachael Maney Apr 22, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2021 Jon Korin, President Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (‘BikeAAA’) 443-685-4103, [email protected]   Rachael Maney, National Director Bike Law 410-382-7803, [email protected]   DRIVER CONVICTED ON CYCLIQ VIDEO EVIDENCE Christopher Lee Bradshaw of Lothian, MD was convicted of violating Maryland’s 3-foot bicycle passing law and negligent driving on […]

Read More
cycling friendship
Ann Groninger Apr 21, 2021

Cycling friendships are wonderful benefit to our sport and community.  A major part of our work as bicycle “accident” lawyers means putting a value on losses that our clients suffer as a result of injures from crashes. When it comes to past and future medical expenses, lost income and other financial losses, the job is […]

Read More
Contributory Negligence
Ann Groninger Apr 08, 2021

There is finally a positive development in the fight against Contributory Negligence in North Carolina. Last week a bill called the “Victims’ Fair Treatment Act” was filed in the North Carolina Senate. If passed, the bill would finally bring North Carolina into line with all but 3 other states by eradicating this deeply unfair law. […]

Read More
Bike Shop with wheels
Danny Feldman Apr 04, 2021

Birmingham is blessed to have a number of great bike shops.  Two of these shops, although very different, are the focus here.  Future blog posts from Bike Law Alabama will focus on some of the other great shops in Birmingham and throughout Alabama. A NON-PROFIT BIKE SHOP: REDEMPTIVE CYCLES Why choose Redemptive as your Bike […]

Read More
Load More