Stuart police pursuit that resulted in man's death 'was within department policy' (2024)

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STUART − A review of a Stuart police pursuit that ended with a suspect involved in a crash that left a 76-year-old man dead determined the “pursuit was within department policy,” according to recently-released records.

The April 18 crash at U.S. 1 and Southeast Central Parkway happened as Jerauis Jean, 23, of Boynton Beach, crashed a Toyota Corolla into a Martin County Public Transit, or MARTY, bus, and then into a BMW, records show.

The BMW was pushed into the rear of a sport utility vehicle. The BMW driver, a Palm City resident whose name has not been released, died after the crash. A 74-year-old BMW passenger sustained “incapacitating injuries,” records show.

Jean was arrested after a Florida Highway Patrol investigation on charges including one count related to homicide/negligent manslaughter and two counts each related to fleeing/eluding causing injury or death and driving while license suspended involving death or serious injury, records show.

Officer Leonardo Santamaria pursued Jean before the crash.

In a May memo to Police Chief Joseph Tumminelli, Stuart police Lt. Michael Gerwan reported he reviewed Santamaria’s body-worn camera footage, got case reports, dispatch recordings and video surveillance.

He concluded Jean was “solely” responsibile for the fatal crash.

“Jean fled from law enforcement in a vehicle during what was a lawful attempt at a traffic stop,” records state. “Jean continued to flee from law enforcement and actively participated in the commission of a felony.”

The pursuit began after Santamaria notified dispatchers he tried to conduct a traffic stop about 7:43 p.m. in the area of Southeast 10th Street and Southeast Bahama Avenue in the East Stuart community. The pursuit lasted less than 2 minutes across about 1.6 miles, records show.

What happened

Santamaria reported he and other officers were conducting traffic enforcement “to establish police presence due to the violence in the area.” A fatal shooting happened nearby in the area of the 800 block of Southeast Spruce Avenue just over two weeks earlier.

Santamaria said he tried to stop the Toyota because the window tint was so dark he couldn’t see how many people were inside.

The Toyota did not stop, and crossed over State Road A1A on East Florida Street to Southeast Johnson Avenue. The vehicle proceeded to U.S. 1 and turned south on U.S. 1.

During the portion of the pursuit leading up to U.S. 1, police calculated Santamaria’s estimated speed was 38 mph.

On U.S. 1 from Southeast Johnson Avenue to the crash scene, police calculated Santamaria’s estimated speed was 74 mph.

Police noted Santamaria kept in contact with dispatchers, providing “updates with the ongoing conditions of the pursuit.” His emergency lights and sirens were activated, and he requested Martin County Sheriff’s officials place tire deflation devices ahead of the pursuit route. Traffic conditions were light.

Police noted ideally Santamaria would have broadcast a description of the suspect vehicle earlier, but Santamaria said “he was concentrated on multiple tasks occurring at the same time,” records show.

Police noted as the pursuit approached what would become the crash scene, the traffic conditions changed.

Santamaria reported he was going to stop the pursuit but before he could the crash happened.

A sergeant who heard radio traffic also reported he was going to stop the pursuit just before the crash happened.

Next steps

Jean, who declined to speak with FHP officials shortly after the crash, last month pleaded not guilty in the case. He has a court date July 15.

Tumminelli on Tuesday said police after the crash measured speeds on U.S. 1 and recorded speeds of 55 to 60 mph. He said he’s taking steps to address speeding on the U.S. 1 corridor.

He wants to try to review policy and come up with alternatives from pursuing. Tumminelli noted his agency does not have a helicopter, but the Martin County Sheriff’s Office does.

Tumminelli said he requested the Martin County Sheriff’s Office pursuit policy.

He also spoke about tire deflation devices, and perhaps ending pursuits before they get to a major thoroughfare or possibly not pursuing “depending on what the case may be.”

More details in deadly crash:Accused DUI driver in fatal cyclist crash dragged bicycle on her BMW, records state

Deadly crash in St. Lucie County:Fatal crash under investigation on Edwards Road near South 23rd Street

Will Greenleeis a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Will on X@OffTheBeatTweetor reach him by phone at 772-267-7926. E-mail him atwill.greenlee@tcpalm.com.

Stuart police pursuit that resulted in man's death 'was within department policy' (2024)
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