Local News

Franklin County Sheriff Orders Temporary Halt to Chases

Posted December 8, 2007
Updated December 9, 2007

— Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green ordered a temporary ban on pursuits, a week after a Franklin County police chase ended with a head-on collision that killed the suspect and two sisters.

"Each police chief or sheriff, if they're responsible, after last Saturday, should be reviewing their chase policies," Green said.

James Overton, a family friend of the two girls killed, said perhaps the only good that can come from Saturday's crash is if law enforcement agencies change their pursuit policies.

North Carolina does not have a state standard for police chases, so each department must make up its own. The fatal crash has already prompted change by Franklin County law enforcement agencies.

Franklinton town leaders said they will hire an independent consultant to review its policies. The department already bans high-speed chases – those taking place at 20 mph or more over the speed limit.

Green instructed deputies not to chase non-violent criminals while Brennan Consultant Group reviews the agency's overall policies. The Sheriff's Office hired the consultant a month before the crash.

On Dec. 1, Franklinton Police Officer Michael Dunlap chased Guy Christopher Ayscue at speeds reaching 90 miles an hour, crossing into Granville County before Ayscue slammed into a car on U.S. Highway 15, killing sisters Linsay and Maggie Lunsford.

James Overton, a family friend of the Lunsfords, said the chase should have been called off long before the wreck for a variety of reasons: "Not enough room on the road. There's too many people traveling. It's a Saturday, Christmas parades, Christmas shopping."

Green, who has been involved in two chases himself, said officers always have to make a judgment call.

"Everything's fine as long as they make the arrest. (You) pat them on the back, (say) good job, whether they violate policy or not," he said. "But the moment they violate policy and something bad happens, then it's a horse of a different color."

Before the ban, Green said his department's policy told deputies not to go 15 mph over the posted speed limit.

“That's not very fast. And if you are chasing a suspect who is running 75 or 80 [mph], with the tunnel vision setting in and the adrenaline settling in, the officer's going to continue the pursuit,” he said.

That inclination to go fast in chases is why Green said he wants his deputies to know they do not always have to make an arrest on the spot.

“Just because they get away and we can't chase them doesn't mean we can't solve it and arrest them at a later date,” he said.

Overton said that idea seems to be sound advice.

"Why make something progressively worse if you don't have to?" he asked.

Brennan Consultant Group was expected to complete its review of the Franklin Sheriff's Office's chase procedures and makes its recommendations within the next two months.

Donations for the Lunsford family may be sent to:

Lunsford Family
c/o Stem United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 10
Stem, NC 27581


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  • oldrebel Dec 10, 2007

    re"... durham left wing whack job..." Ohhhhh...poor ole Durham, they just can't get an even break these days. ;)

  • l-rae17 Dec 10, 2007

    thanks for deleting my comment again WRAL.

    im sorry if I don't want to see the picture of the car that my friend died in.

    Way to be sympathetic to everyone she knew.

  • skydiver Dec 10, 2007

    The police car is as deadly a weapon as the fleeing vehicle. Forty percent of all pursuits end in a collision and of all the deaths involving pursuits, thirty to fifty percent are innocent victims. Injuries and deaths that result from law enforcement vehicle crashes exceed those that result from armed confrontations involving law enforcement. We would not allow the police to shoot into a crowd at a fleeing suspect if 30 to 50 percent of the time they would seriously injure or kill an innocent person. The pursuit policy for each agency should meet the same strict standards as that of an officer’s firearm.

    We need to catch the “bad guys,” but let’s do it smarter and safer.

  • leo-nc Dec 10, 2007

    Sorry if I seem upset. I'm really not, but I am frustrated that our citizens see the police in such a way. I have a couple of questions from gvmntcheese.

    Have you been hit in the face by a thug with a bottle?
    Have you been hit in the back by a mirror of a truck while you're on a stop?
    Have you taken a ride on the taser?
    Have you been pepper sprayed in the face?
    Have you ever once been punched? Did you give up?

    You don't have to answer here. You can just think about it.

  • ANYWHO Dec 10, 2007

    leo-nc...calm down,,he is a left wing nuut case and all he is doing is saying those things to incite you.

  • leo-nc Dec 10, 2007

    gvmntcheese, it's easy to see that you're not a cop. You talk about us like you're on the outside, and you've proven it in the other threads.... For instance:

    "It is sooo easy to see when Franklintons citizens and fellow officers come to the aid of one of their own regardless of the facts in any case...

    All we know is that Berger was late for his sausage biscuit.
    Click to view my profile gvmntcheese
    GOLO member since July 26, 2007
    December 3, 2007 10:40 a.m."

    No cop would say that about another cop. You're an outsider, without a clue and until you understand what it's like in the car behind the suspect, you will NEVER know. You are a sheep. You should be thankful that you have the shepherds who are willing to be hard, and who are willing to take a lick from a thug to protect your right to be ignorant. The only thing between you and the wolf is US. It's too bad that so many citizens forget that.

  • leo-nc Dec 10, 2007

    "Blame can not be placed on someone who has already paid the ultimate price for their decision." -- WHAT?!?! Are you kidding me? That is like saying that someone who commits murder suicide should not be blamed because they are dead. The argument makes no sense whatsoever and you are calling me naive? WOW!!

    As for your question on whether it could have been prevented. Yes, it could have. He could have CHOSEN not to flee. He could have chosen to stop, but he didn't. He could have made the choice not to pass on a hill and curve, on a double yellow but he did. He could have been in jail had the courts not let him out. He could have been an upstanding citizen instead of a criminal but he wasn't. How DARE you put the blame on those deaths on this officer's shoulders when all he did what he took an OATH to do and that it his job to bring criminals to justice. He WAS trying to protect the citizens by doing his job. It's the criminal that chose to kill. I'm disgusted by your comments

  • ANYWHO Dec 10, 2007

    gvmntcheese,,,,,,,,i know you are not a policeman cause you have the mindset of a durham left wing whack job...

  • CSMs Alter Ego Dec 10, 2007

    "Blame can not be placed on someone who has already paid the ultimate price for their decision."

    Uhhhh, yes it can. He ran, he crossed the center line, he crashed into those girls. Sure he died, but how can you not blame him?

  • gvmntcheese Dec 10, 2007

    leo, it is very naive to think ego does not play a part in the cop world.
    The officer did not break any laws becuz there are none for these guys when it comes to pursuits..
    Blame can not be placed on someone who has already paid the ultimate price for their decision. The question is could it have been prevented. My wife called me moments after they passed her on 56 and I know where Mr. Dunlap was in retrospect to the suspect. The blame is being placed in the right direction. That is all I am going to say.