LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – With high-speed pursuits a part of life in the Southland, it seems like more often than not, suspects think they can outrun the law.
So, why do they run? CBS2 delved into what happens after these chases end by tracking down several suspects to learn about their experiences.
In 2013, Christopher Hale led Riverside police on a chase through two counties with a U-Haul van. He told CBS2 he regrets his actions, claiming he was mentally ill at the time.
“I was hearing voices and things,” Hale told CBS2.
Hale’s shirtless surrender was caught live by Sky2 choppers. He said the arrest changed his life.
“My brother saw it online, and my family showed it to me,” Hale said. “It really shook me up when I saw it, and I was scared about the repercussions from it.”
He said he received the mental help that he needs and, shockingly, avoided prison time.
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Chase suspect Robert Lopez wasn’t so lucky. On March 29, he led Los Angeles police on not one, but two wild pursuits through the San Fernando Valley in the same night that ended in a crash.
The pursuit began in the Burbank area when officers spotted a stolen vehicle. Officers believe Lopez abandoned the vehicle under an overpass near the 101 and 134 freeways about 30 minutes into the chase. When he emerged, he was seen driving a different pickup with a friend inside the vehicle. At times, the stolen vehicle reached speeds of more than 100 mph.
“To the people out there, I apologize to them, I just wanted to make it home to my son,” Lopez told CBS2 by phone from jail.
Meanwhile, in April 2016, one-time Marine Herschel Reynolds led LAPD on a donut spinning, selfie-taking chase through Hollywood, mesmerizing viewers with his stunt-like abilities.
Reynolds is serving time in state prison but is set to be released in July.
Out five drivers CBS2 tracked down, only one was facing the prospect of a long prison sentence, and that was due to charges unrelated to the chase. It’s a frustration shared by law enforcement and victims’ groups who argue the sentences don’t match the danger the drivers create.
“Don’t think that this is a movie, or don’t think that this is something that will never happen,” California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Tao said. “Pull over, stop, because if it’s a violation, it’s just a simple citation.”
Every chase suspect CBS2 spoke to, however, admitted learning a hard lesson after being arrested.
“There’s no reason to run from the cops, because you’re not going to get away,” Hale said.