Supervisor Calls Off Philadelphia Police Chase Prior to Shooting of Suspect - NBC 10 Philadelphia
Relentless pursuit of the truth

SEND TIPS610-949-7473

Supervisor Calls Off Philadelphia Police Chase Prior to Shooting of Suspect

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC10 obtained dispatch recordings revealing a police chase that ended in the shooting of a hit-and-run suspect was initially called off. NBC10's Harry Hairston has the details. (Published Wednesday, June 3, 2015)

    Dispatch recordings obtained by NBC10 reveal a police pursuit of a man accused of striking four officers with his car was repeatedly called off by a supervisor before the suspect was shot.

    Rudolph Keitt Jr., 47, is accused of injuring four Philadelphia police officers back on May 12.

    Authorities allege that Keitt hit a wall then struggled with responding officers and drove off, striking three officers and injuring a fourth two miles away before he was shot in the Olney section of the city.

    The initial call for the incident was for an emergency reporting a man had a seizure and had crashed his car.

    “We have a male that was having a seizure at an accident,” the dispatcher says. “Hit four officers.”

    When police responded to the scene, Keitt allegedly hit the gas and struck the responding officers. A witness captured part of the incident on cellphone video. NBC10 also obtained radio communications made between dispatchers and the officers during the ordeal.

    “The victim took off in the car,” an officer says. “He ran like four of us over! We are now northbound on 7th Street!”

    Investigators say Keitt led police on a chase through the streets of Philly. Dispatch audio reveals police feared for themselves and others during the pursuit.

    “Everybody clear out,” an officer says. “Heading right towards everybody! Get out of the road!”

    Less than five minutes into the chase, a supervisor calls it off.

    “Break it off,” the supervisor says.

    Seconds later, the dispatcher repeats that the inspector, called “Isaac,” wants the chase to stop.

    “From Isaac 2 break it off! From Isaac 2 break it off Unit,” she says.

    An officer then speaks about a minute later.

    “24 I’m not in pursuit,” he says. “I still have eyes on.”

    The officer speaks again after another minute.

    “I got him stopped,” he says. “Just took back off. We are headed east on Ogontz.”

    Thirty seconds later, the supervisor makes anther call.

    “Shut it down right now,” he says. “I repeat that, shut it down. Stop your vehicle. Do not follow this vehicle.”

    Only a minute after the supervisor’s command, Keitt was shot in the chest by an officer.

    “An officer discharge,” an officer says. “Ogontz and Stenton!”

    While Keitt’s attorney Brian Mildenberg admits the officers had a right to fear for their safety at the start of the chase he also believes the situation changed after the first order was made to abort the pursuit.

    “This is a paramilitary organization,” he said. “Your job is to follow the orders of your supervisors and your superiors. It’s not a matter of, ‘my life was in danger.’ You shouldn’t have been there. You were told, ‘do not pursue.’”

    Keitt was released from the hospital Monday and faces a slew of charges, including attempted murder, aggravated assault, attempting to flee, reckless endangerment and other related counts.

    Mildenberg denied allegations that his client intentionally struck the officers with his vehicle or attacked them, claiming Keitt’s history of seizures and medication was the reason for the incident. He also requested Keitt be transferred to a mental hospital, believing his client has “acute schizophrenia.”

    Philadelphia Police spokesman Lieutenant John Stanford told NBC10 he couldn’t speak on the specifics about Keitt’s case, citing the ongoing investigation. He did say however that the department has clear policies on pursuits.

    “Any supervisor can terminate a pursuit,” Stanford said. “If that’s done then the officers are to disengage in the pursuit and provide their location and their mileage.”

    No officer is heard giving that information in the dispatch audio. Stanford told NBC10 Internal Affairs is currently investigating the incident.