Critics are urging St. Louis police to restrict police pursuits after a fleeing van killed a minister on the way to church,the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Polce Chief Joe Mokwa insisted that officers have to draw the line when someone threatens officers with a gun. “We cannot allow criminals to take over our streets,” the chief said. “I won’t tolerate it.” The Rev. Nathaniel M. Cole, 56, was killed about Monday when his SUV was struck head-on in by another SUV that was being chased by the police. The fleeing driver, who who had an extensive police record, was also killed.
Several years ago, Mokwa ordered officers to scale back vehicle pursuits in the name of public safety, limiting chases to serious offenses. Police said Monday night’s chase began after a man pointed a pistol at officers who walked up to his vehicle after witnessing several traffic offenses . Police said they did not return fire. “Was the capture worth the lives of innocent citizens?” asked Harold Crumpton, head of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP. “I think not.” Said Chief Mokwa: “We’ve got one of the most restrictive police pursuit policies around,” he said, “but if someone threatens an officer, or a citizen, with deadly force, then we have to stop that person.”