Long Beach Police Chase Kills Bystander

December 11, 2008

Jason Allen Siebert, a 32-year-old La Habra resident, died in a Long Beach car crash on December 6, 2008. The accident occurred after a fleeing suspect, who was being chased by police, broadsided Siebert’s vehicle at a Long Beach intersection. According to this news report in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, 22-year-old Cody Brown was involved in a high speed police chase when he struck Siebert’s 1998 BMW at the corner of Redondo Avenue and Fourth Street. Brown is facing charges of vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, evading law enforcement, impaired driving and other traffic violations.

The incident began when a police officer saw Brown running a red light at Bellflower Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway. The chase reached speeds of up to 100 mph on surface streets. Brown was speeding through stop signs and traffic lights. In addition to Siebert’s car, Brown also hit a taxicab whose driver suffered minor injuries. Long Beach officials are apparently investigating the conduct of their own police officials to make sure police protocol was followed during this pursuit.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Jason Allen Siebert, who was the unsuspecting victim of this horrific auto accident. Please keep Siebert’s family in your prayers. I’m glad the taxi driver got away with minor injuries. I wish him a speedy recovery.

What angers me about this incident is that, if this newspaper report is accurate, Cody Brown did not seem to have been a dangerous criminal. Yes, he ran a red light and when pursued, drove recklessly and posed a hazard to the driving public. But was it necessary to chase him around the city of Long Beach at 100 mph?

California law provides immunity to police departments that have adopted a “vehicle pursuit policy.” California Vehicle Code Section 17004 states: “A public agency employing peace officers that adopts and promulgates a written policy on, and provides regular and periodic training on an annual basis for, vehicular pursuits … is immune from liability for civil damages for personal injury to or death of any person or damage to property resulting from the collision of a vehicle being operated by an actual or suspected violator of the law who is being, has been, or believes he or she is being or has been, pursued in a motor vehicle by a peace officer employed by the public entity.”

Based on this law, it would seem that the Long Beach Police Department is immune from liability. They don’t have to prove their officers have read or received training pertaining to their pursuit policy. That said, is it fair to Jason Allen Siebert and his family? Driving under the influence is a misdemeanor. Not stopping for a red light is an infraction and a relatively minor traffic violation. Was it fair for this police officer to engage in a high speed pursuit for a minor traffic violation or misdemeanor if he or she was likely to be endangering the public?

When it comes to police pursuits there is a definite need for a balancing test between danger to the public and the need to apprehend a suspect. The seriousness of the suspected offense must be balanced with public safety. Our justice system should not allow peace officers to engage in high-speed chases without weighing the good that comes from catching the suspect against the risk of injury and/or death to members of the public.

Another aspect of this case that concerns me is that the city of Long Beach is investigating its own police department. Based on this news report, it doesn’t appear that another outside agency is involved. I’m concerned about how objective their investigation would be of themselves. If I were a member of Jason Siebert’s family, I would be talking to an experienced Southern California auto accident attorney to see how I can protect my legal rights and make sure that a fair investigation is conducted.

26 Comments

Where is personal responsibility in all of this. The police cannot be held responsible for what the driver chooses to do. The driver was already speeding through intersections and red lights at speeds of 70 mph; having the police in hot pursuit does not change the fact that he was independently endagering lives.
I would like to say thank you to the many police officers who put their lives in harms way every day to protect our citizens. Cody Brown - NOT the police - should be the focus of this investigation. His selfishness and utter disregard for anything other than himself led to a dear friend's death.

I don't even want this posted. I just want you to know how ridiculous you are for insinuating that this is the police's fault. I am a friend of the Brown's and I think you're an idiot. It was Cody's choice to run from the police no one elses. You don't even know him, so I suggest you shut up and mind your own business.

It does appear that the police chasing Brown at 100 mph on Long Beach streets was an unwise choice and dangerous. I doubt that Mr. Siebert would have been killed if the police were not chasing Brown. It seems to me that catching a "red light runner" isn't worth the life of an innocent person, or even the life of the person running the red light.

If I was a family member of Mr. Siebert's, I wouldn't be comfortable wtih the police agency that was involved in my family member's death doing the investigation of itself.

I don't understand the attack on the attorney who wrote this. Seems like he gave good information, better than anything else I have seen to explain the law and this situation.

I agree with Zoe. Cody Brown was an idiot to flee from the cops after he got caught running a red light. He was probably scared because he was hiding something.

The cops have to do what they have to do. I understand that if they were not chasing Cody Brown he would probably wouldn't have killed or injured the bystander, however Cody could have easily prevented this. It was his fault.

Mr Bisnar,

You want to know what concerns me? How, at the very end of inaccurate, inapporpriately critical article, you sum up by saying "I would be talking to an experienced Southern California auto accident attorney..." Really? You wouldn't happen to know one, would ya?!? Do you actually chase behind the ambulances, or is that just a clever stereotype they give guys like you?

Lets talk about all the inaccuracies in your "article" that you so shamefully threw together in order to prey on people in grief.

Cody Brown is not a dangerous criminal. A drunk person piloting a 3000 lbs chunk of metal a crowded downtown area isn't dangerous? I guess a murderer with a gun isn't dangerous until he pulls the trigger, right?

Free from liability. As long as they are in their very stringent policy. If not, they can lose their jobs, houses, retirement and go to jail for making a decision in two seconds that you get to pull apart over the course of a year.

Don't have to know their policy. Shame on you. You know that isn't true. Police officers sign policies a minimum of once a year. If a policy is changed, POST requires every officer to undergo re-training. As a scum bag lawyer, you know that.

Question for you... how many people will drive 100 mph when trying to avoid a speeding ticket? Slim to none. So, if a person is willing to do that, is it reasonable to assume he might have something more going on than just a vehicle infraction? See, cops have to use common sense. As a lawyer, you are evidently exempt from that practice.

From what I see in your article, you're telling the public that, if they don't want a speeding ticket, hit the gas and drive wrecklessly. The police can't chase you and you avoid that annoying ticket.

The police chase people like Cody Brown because he poses a grave danger to the public safety. What happened to Jason is tragic, and exactly why Cody Brown should recieve the maximum penalty.

Here's a closing thought to ponder. Cody Brown was arrested for drunk driving in 2007. He still has a drivers license because some scum bag lawyer argued for a plea and he recieved a reduced penalty, some classes and a fine. You know what concerns me? That Cody Brown had a driver's license because of a defense attorney like you.

But I'm sure you have a real nice car, so that makes it okay.

To Jason's family, my deepest condolences. He sounded like an amazing person.

To Mr Bisnar, stop preying on people and develop a conscience.

I'll bet that Jason Siebert's family, especially if he has a wife and children, don't think that the police did the right thing by chasing someone who only ran a red light. I'd even bet that the policeman involved wish they had made another choice. Generally they are caring people to and never intend for an innocent bystander to be harmed.

Crystal, he didn't just run a red light. He ran a red light at 70 mph while swerving. If a drunk person driving wrecklessly go tearing past a police officer, you don't want the cops to go get that guy? Think about how that sounds.

The police didn't chase someone who rolled through a stop sign. They chased someone who posed an immediate threat to the public's safety.

I wish Cody Brown had never gotten drunk and disregarded everyone else's safety. Let's place the blame where it lies.

Ryan, I believe it would have been better for the police to have controlled the situation, not aggravate it. They could have taken his license number and tracked him down that way. They could have used helicopter assistance. If Brown had gotten away and no one died, I think that would have been a better result and I think LBPD would agree.

I am sure the police department themselves, after their investigation, will come to a conclusion that they could have handled this a better way. Not only do I feel for the family of the man that died but for the police officers who have to live with this the rest of their lives, especially if the man had children.

After reading your what you said, I looked for articles by police on this subject. Look at www.realpolice.net/police-pursuit-risks.shtml. This article supports portions of both of our fellings about this.

Let's all pray for Jason Siebert's family and those police officers.

I also find it interesting that the attorney who writes this blog does not remove or edit out, the comments with personal attacts on him.

I agree with Ryan. Also let's not forget that while running a red light is a misdemeanor, tearing through them at twice the posted speed limit and endangering the public becomes a felony (at least, in my state it does). And doing the above, while also CLEARLY IMPAIRED is not only a enhancing the first felony, but also presents a CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to the people of Long Beach. Any sane person would HOPE our public servants in law enforcement would take action to stop this sort of deadly behavior.

That's exactly what the officers with LBPD did (and well within their responsibilities to do). Dare I say, it would have been ethically imprudent to not chase him. So, they attempted to pull Cody Brown over. However, to punctuate his blatant disregard for the law or others' safety, instead of pulling over, Cody hit the gas (on his own volition) and proceeded to evade police, which is...say it with me, YET ANOTHER FELONY.

Let's recap: speeding double posted limit, reckless endangerment, driving while impaired (including record of previous offenses), running red lights, and evading police.

That sounds like a wonderful guy. Really. How dare the police try to stop him.

I don't have a law degree nor have I ever had to personally bear witness the devastating aftermath of the choices of someone like Cody Brown. I've only felt the horrifying effects of losing someone you care about.

But, it seems from where I sit, that this one is rather black and white. Brown broke law after law, ad nauseum. Police tried to stop Brown (risking their LIVES in the process - not a choice that anyone would make unless they had GOOD REASON to). Police backed off the chase after the threat to the general public became too great. Brown didn't slow down. Brown hit a car and a taxi at intersection, killing one and injuring others. Brown can add vehicular manslaughter to his list of lifetime accomplishments.

The rest of us, we grieve deeply for the tragic loss of life. And you want to point the finger at police who risked their lives because he was obviously a danger to the public? Are you serious?

Just one closing thought:

If the police hadn't chased Cody, and the joyriding ended in the same tragic way, I'm fairly certain the press and legal teams would be asking, "where were the police in all this? Why didn't they try to stop him?" In fact, you might even try to sue LBPD for not doing anything to stop him, and/or criticize them for falling asleep on the job. Do you not see the double standard here?

Remember what the police are there to do: protect and serve. And guess what? That's exactly what they do, every single day!!!

Thank you, Zoe! I think the most crucial part of this whole story, that the lawyer conveniently left out, is that the police TRIED to pull Brown over, and he sped away. THEN, the police backed off.

Brown continued to make bad, bad, bad decisions. Although it doesn't matter, Jason was not married. He devoted his life to contributing beauty and greatness to the world in ways the rest of us only dream. Hundreds of people mourn the death of this extraordinary man who was taken from our midst too early. The cops did it right, and I don't blame them at all. I blame one man, Cody Brown, for killing my friend Jason.

All I have to say if anyone really knew Cody Brown AKA Bones he would never attempt to hurt anyone if cops actually did there duty no one would have been chasing anyone!WE LOVE YOU CODY && WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU

I was a friend of Jason's. I went to his Memorial Service. He was taken away from this Earth, by a wreckless, toxicated, fool, driving wreklessly purposely through Long Beach Streets. He deserves all the punishment in the world for what he did. It was not the police fault. They were trying to just get this nut and murderer off the roads.

Anonymous...are you kidding me? He would never attempt to hurt anyone? In fact that's exactly what "Bones" did every time he got behind the wheel after he had been drinking...we all know it was many more times then the two he has been caught for...he killed a young man because of his own carelessness and selfishness. He will have to live with that the rest of his life.

If the cops had done their duty no one would have been chasing anyone? I don't even know what that means. Maybe you are suggesting that the police be trained in mind reading, that way they can stop the people from doing bad things before they do them. Or maybe the police should have some sort of way to freeze the car that tries to run from them so that no one gets hurt. Or maybe you and your friends should put the joystick down, put the bong down, put the 40 down, and try and be responsible citizens. While you are off complaining about the cops they are putting bullet proof vests on every day and putting themselves in harms way to protect you. You wouldn't last 2 seconds in a world without cops.

Final thought...the cops actually did their duty a year ago by arresting and putting "Bones" in jail. It was the lawyer that got his penalty reduced...so the reason that "bones" was behind the wheel at all would fall on his shoulders.

There is clearly a lot of love for Jason in this world.

And Crystal, you clearly work for Mr Bisnar.

I don't even need to say this after Zoe so eloquently laid it all out, piece by piece, using common sense... but here it goes for a final time.

Crystal, explain "the police should have controlled the situation." With magic? How do you control a speeding drunkard behind the wheel of a car? Politely ask him to stop? You honestly want the police to just let a drunk driver, going 70 mph on the wrong side of the street just go? Ignore it? Look the other way? When bad guys run we chase. We chase to catch them before they get to you.

Track him using his license plate? You mean IF he parks the vehicle and IF he doesn't hurt someone before that happens? Helicopter? This whole tragic ordeal took less than four minutes. How many helicopters do you think the city can afford?

"I feel for the police officers who have to live with this the rest of their lives." Don't bother. We're fine. Unfortunately, we see this type of sadness on a daily basis. The only hard part of the job is people who fault us for acting in good conscience and get blamed for trying to help.

Crystal, I'm sorry you have such a dim view of police officers. Or such an unrealistic view of what we're capable of. I can promise you this... when you're out driving, you can rest assured that when a drunk driver is barreling towards you, putting your life at risk, me and my coworkers will do our all to get him before he kills you... not try and track his license plate after he does.

And this will be an appropriate retirement from this blog.

I pray God's peace for Jason, his family and all of his dedicated friends.

you cant put all the blame on the police, im guessing that officer suspected him of being drunk, and drunk driving should be stopped especially in a peace officer's presense, its his/her duty to enforce the law on this suspect. unfortunatly, incidents like this happen, i would believe it would be extremely hard for a police officer or sheriffs deputy to just let someone go if they had reasonable suspicion that the suspect may be under the influence. if cody brown would have just stopped for the officer, none of this would have happened and no pursuit would have occured. so whos fault really is it? im not backing anyone up but what cody brown did was ridiculous and stupid. what could have been maybe a large fine and a little bit of jail time at worst, has now turned into a felony case that has put this individual's freedom at jeopardy possibly for the rest of his life.

yeah Jane.... Cody would never hurt anybody??? why did he get in a fight with 3 cops a few years back????? Dude has been on a bad road for some time now. Its just so sad it had to end this way!!!!

Ok listen all you uninformed morons. CI am a good close personal friend of "bones" he did make a horrible choice which unfortunately ended a mans life. Cody has to live with that and believe me when i say that Cody is also hurting. I want to apologize to the family of Jason for this tragedy and nothing that i say will ever bring him back.
Cody is not a bad person and to the idiot talking about fighting with the cops. Check yourself that LBPD officer struck cody and all he did was defend himself.
Im not trying to defend cody. he made a mistake. He's 22 years old people. He's hurting right now as welljust know cody Brown is a good person whoe obviously had a problem with drinking. Cops i think will say what they have to say to clear themselves. I wasn't at the scene of the accident so I don't know what happened and neither do most of you people that seem to know everything about the situation.
About two days after the accident i went to 4th and Redondo and spoke with some of Jasons friendsthey loved him just like we love our Cody Bones. Stay up brother this will end soon

My name is Katie.
I am Cody's sister. It is horrific that people can sit on their computers and judge this tragedy that has devastated our two families. I can assure you that Cody is sitting in prison and mourning the loss of Jason Siebert as well as each and every bad decision he made that night.

Arguing certainly will not help this situation. If you would like to make a difference you can donate to the Jason Siebert Memorial Fund. Let the Siebert family know in a positive way that you support them. And go home and tell your families how devastating the effects of alchoholism can be... Don't let this happen to you.

im a friend of cody bones you didnt know him so u cant call him a dangerous criminal his mistake was drunk driving the police's mistake was chasing him 100mph if they are immune to resposibilitie for any accidents caused then mayb they werent thingkin of the bystanders maybe they were thinkin of being a hero just beacuse they have a badge doesnt make them a saint!!!!

i know cody and he didn't mean to do this the people that don't know him need to shut up. we still got love for you cody.Your boy from your old work.

i just wanted to thank the Long Beach Police Department for screwing up another young persons life. Cody is my friend and was it really necessary to chase him over 100 mph through LB. I'm sure Jason's family are proud of you also.Keep up the good work LBPD. What's your motto "protect and serve". HA! More like "rape and pillage"

Katie, as an old friend of Jason's, I thank you.

Welcome to the real world. Trial is begining soon.
Anyone using a deadly weapon- ie a vehicle- is a dangerous criminal. And I don't have to know the person- Cody Brown- to know he was driving while intoxicated therefore shouldn't have been driving. He knew he would be driving himself before he took the first sip of the first drink.
He knew. And THAT makes him dangerous. He knew could hurt or even kill someone. He must have been okay with that. And THAT makes him dangerous. It would define anyone as dangerous.
Nuff said.

The facts are: At Bellfolwer and PCH, Cody rolled thru a stop sign, there after he failed to stop thru numerous more, he was not speeding at this time...the police followed him without light or sirens until approx 1-2 blocks where the accident occured which at that time the red lighted him, the "high speed chase" should have been avoided they should have attempted to pull him over long...long..before as the report showed many traffic violations occured at normal speed...please understand Im not excusing mr browns behavior by all means, but what were the police waiting for.....it is obviously less populated where the police began to follow mr. brown.

The facts are: At Bellfolwer and PCH, Cody rolled thru a stop sign, there after he failed to stop thru numerous more, he was not speeding at this time...the police followed him without light or sirens until approx 1-2 blocks where the accident occured which at that time the red lighted him, the "high speed chase" should have been avoided they should have attempted to pull him over long...long..before as the report showed many traffic violations occured at normal speed...please understand Im not excusing mr browns behavior by all means, but what were the police waiting for.....it is obviously less populated where the police began to follow mr. brown.

Today is the one year anniversay of my cousin Jason's death. I wish all this arguing would just stop. Plain and simple... Cody Brown made the decision to drink and drive and as a result, killed a wonderful man. The trial has ended and Cody was sentenced to 16 years to life. He will have to live with the bad choices he made for the rest of his life. Hopefully while he sits in jail and ponders over what he has done, he will learn something.

Please celebrate Jason's life by remembering the joy he brought to your life. And for those of you who did not have the honor of knowing him, just know that he was a good man with a big heart who lived up the the phrase "love one another."

Jason lives on in our hearts.

As we approach the SEASONS OF LOVE, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE how proud Jason is to know that he changed us all FOR GOOD!

I love you Jason!

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