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Long Beach Police Chase Kills Bystander

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.

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26 responses to “Long Beach Police Chase Kills Bystander”

  1. Zoe Tennesen says:

    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.

  2. Anonymous says:

    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.

  3. Paul from Long Beach says:

    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.

  4. Khristine Bognot says:

    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.

  5. Ryan says:

    Mr Bisnar,

  6. Crystal Butler says:

    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.

  7. Ryan says:

    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.

  8. Crystal Butler says:

    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.

  9. Zoe (again) says:

    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.

  10. Jane says:

    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.

  11. Anonymous says:

    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

  12. Dm says:

    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.

  13. Kristen says:

    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.

  14. Ryan says:

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

  15. Anonymous says:

    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.

  16. Anonymous says:

    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!!!!

  17. eddie long beach says:

    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.

  18. Katie Brown says:

    My name is Katie.

  19. ashley says:

    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!!!!

  20. anonymous says:

    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.

  21. anonymous says:

    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”

  22. anonymous says:

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

  23. Kimberly says:

    Welcome to the real world. Trial is begining soon.

  24. relative says:

    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.

  25. relative says:

    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.

  26. Jodie says:

    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.

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