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Huntsville Police explain protocol for chases in the city

WAAY-31 found out it's all about safety for everyone... including the suspect or suspects.

Posted: May 29, 2020 6:34 PM
Updated: May 29, 2020 8:28 PM

We're learning more details on a chase that ended in a deadly crash, killing one person and severely injuring another.

Huntsville Police tried to stop a vehicle near University and Putnam Drive, but Montarious Rooks refused to stop and took off until crashing on Old Monrovia Road.

WAAY 31 spent the day piecing together what happened during this chase.

Huntsville Police told us when it comes to chases there’s protocol to follow but also flexibility to handle each case differently.

In this situation, officers stopped the chase to keep everyone on the road safe.

"It's a decision overall for public safety. It's a trend you know. Police departments and law enforcement are going through policy-wise across the country to try and reduce injuries and hopefully save lives but in this case even though in this case, it was very unfortunate," said Lt. Michael Johnson, department spokesman.

Johnson said officers originally tried to stop Rooks for a simple tag registration issue on what police described as a dark-colored hatchback vehicle.

He told us it appeared the driver was going to pull over on University Drive, but sped off at about 80 miles an hour.

"Once it hit Sparkman, that Sparkman Drive overpass on University, he immediately fled, you know accelerated very quickly," he said.

Johnson told us in that situation, an officer’s main priority is to keep everyone safe - even the suspect.

Because Rooks was going so fast and sharp turns in the area, the officer decided to end the chase.

A few minutes later, Rooks crashed his car into another vehicle on Old Monrovia Road near the AMC movie theatre.

The crash killed Rooks and a passenger in the car was badly hurt.

But the message from police is clear: "It's not worth jeopardizing your life running from a traffic infraction," said Johnson.

Huntsville Police are still investigating but don’t think Rooks or his passenger wore seatbelts.

The driver who was hit is expected to be OK and walked away with minor injuries.

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