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Officers responding to chase cited for not wearing seat belts

Posted August 12, 2008

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— Two officers who crashed while responding to an Aug. 5 chase and shooting in downtown Raleigh were cited for not wearing their seat belts, a violation of department policy and state law.

The officers were chasing Renford Butler, 34, of Durham. Butler's stolen taxi eventually slammed into a white van near the intersection of Lane and Dawson streets.

Butler tried to flee, and he waved a straight razor at officers as they cornered him, police said. He was critically wounded after being shot twice by Officer J. Bloodworth.

Officer Lea Marie Younker was driving on Martin Luther King Boulevard en route to the shooting scene with lights and sirens on when a car pulled out in front of her.

James Edward Clifton, 51, of 3700 Tryon Road in Raleigh, pulled out from Grantland Drive to cross Martin Luther King Boulevard when Younker's cruiser hit his car.

Younker, Officer Andy Caruana, Clifton and his passenger were taken to WakeMed for evaluation.


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  • flowerlady03 Aug 13, 2008

    PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDN'T THROW STONES. "Drive responsibly like everyone else" What planet are you living on? Because I don't think it's the same one as the rest of us. I'd suggest you not speak for everyone else being responsible because you sound ridiculous. If everyone were responsible I wouldn't be sitting in traffic everyday because of someone's lack of responsble driving.Unless you obey every traffic law and put your turn signal on every time you switch lanes then it is safe to say you have no right calling out anyone else -- police or not. And as for the officers being in another district you obviously have no idea that when a shots fired call goes out it doesn't matter where you are. They go and they go fast. And going lights and sirens from MLK to the scene of the crime would not have taken long at all.

  • newwake Aug 13, 2008

    It's not a police officer's job to drive recklesly. It is his job to proceed with due caution even when driving with emergency equipment activated. Unfortunately someone pulled out in front of this officer...probably could not be avoided. Sirens are loud on the outside but when someone has their radio up, wind noise, etc, it makes it much more difficult to hear. Seat belts should be worn but Im not going to sit here and pretend like I was there and knew exactly what was going on. There have been numerous times in my career when I did not wear a seat belt because it was an officer safety issue which required a quick exit.

  • ncwebguy Aug 13, 2008

    People have every right to be upset with RPD's "do as we say, not as we do" policy. I can't count the number of times a police car got a "call" while waiting for a red light, turned on its lights, and then the call magically disappeared as soon as they were through the intersection. To say nothing of the lack of turn signals, etc.

    The driver had a partner in her car, who can handle working the lights/raido/laptop/whatever. People often don't pull over because they *can't*.

    As I posted earlier, this car was in district 2-4 responding to a call in 2-5/downtown. MLK is nowhere near the scene of the crime -- the officers had no reason to be unbuckled. Also, MLK has a lot of blind curves east of downtown. Someone making a legal right turn could move out assuming no one is coming and it would be safe to turn since oncoming traffic should only be doing 35. MLK is four lanes, being in the left lane should not result in colliding with a turning vehichle.

  • Leonardo Aug 13, 2008

    DeathRow - I have no problem with cops who have to drive recklessly when they have their sirens on. That's what they need to do...it's their job.

    But I DO have a problem with cops that ignore basic traffic safety and laws when they DON'T have their sirens on. More than once I've had to slam on my brakes to avoid a cop who decided to pull out into traffic on an interstate for no reason other than to get on the highway. They also never use turn signals, and they're usually the ones speeding. In general, they're some of the most dangerous people out on the road. They don't seem to think that traffic laws apply to them at all. Sorry...but if you're not in an emergency and you don't have your sirens on, drive responsibly like everyone else.

    Then I hear the excuse "well they get special training so that they know how to speed safely, etc...". Uh huh. If that's true, why not give everyone this 'special training' and then we can get rid of speed limits altogether? :-P

  • ncxphotos Aug 13, 2008

    Double check the law... there is an exception for seatbelts in certain sitiuations for certain folks, not just law enforcement. Whitch hunting and Monday morning quarterbacking here by the department. I would rather have the armed perp off the streets then care if the police trying to catch him had a seat belt on or not. Not even safe for the officers if they have to draw guns quickly to protect the public or themselves.

  • OLD PIRATE 2 Aug 13, 2008

    I agree with "cut the cop bashing"..These two were ticked and thats enough.

  • workingforthosethatwont Aug 13, 2008

    All I can say is if the citizens wanted the police to write every traffic violation they see, there would have to be 8000 police officers in Raleigh. Remember the human element.
    Most people only want the police around when it's convenient anyway. It's when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar that they start crying foul.
    Besides, if you hate the cops so bad...I have a solution...don't call 911, try 411 sometime. Let me know how that works out for you.

  • Adelinthe Aug 13, 2008


    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • cam7002 Aug 13, 2008

    Yeah, Dalefan and Ballyhoo, there's a lot going on in a police cruiser ... which is why these officers should have been wearing their seatbelts. Beyond this incident, however, is the fact that many officers do violate traffic laws with seeming impunity -- not signaling lane changes, speeding for no apparent reason on city streets, not coming to complete stops, lefting on red at one way streets, etcetera -- and not while responding to some call or emergent situation. You can rest assured that the general public observes this behavior. We typically pay close attention when a cop is around. I am willing to hear why officers' failure to abide by these laws is acceptable behavior. Based on my observations and reason, it is not. Please explain.

  • Like that Aug 13, 2008

    I bet those citations will get dismissed!