St. Paul police pursuits have led to injuries or fatalities three times more often than those in Minneapolis, according to a Pioneer Press analysis of seven years of police chase data from the state. The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently said St. Paul wasn’t liable in one of the crashes, in which the 21-year-old bystander had to have her leg amputated and sued the city. But Judge Heidi Schellhas, writing for the majority in upholding the city’s immunity, said the judges were concerned about an aspect of the St. Paul police pursuit policy – it allows officers to chase a drug suspect whose identity is known and who could be found later.
Bystanders killed or injured might be the most worrisome outcome of police chases, but such cases are rare in Minnesota. Seven percent of chase fatalities or injuries were people who were not involved in the pursuit, amount to 86 people, according to the Pioneer Press analysis of the data. When it comes to all chases, 13 percent ended with an injury or fatality statewide. That number was 18 percent in St. Paul and 6 percent in Minneapolis. St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith said he had no specific answer to explain the discrepancy.