ST. PETERSBURG — Police released video and audio recordings today showing that an officer stopped following a car speeding through the city's downtown moments before it crashed into two pedestrians, killing one, on Central Avenue early Saturday.
The footage from a dashboard camera in an unmarked car provides a look into the minute before the car hit and killed Aaron Davis, 31, a popular chef at the Kitchen St. Pete. Also injured was 28-year-old Brian Lee LaFrance, a co-worker who was walking with Davis about 2 a.m. Saturday when the crash occurred.
St. Petersburg police are not allowed to engage in a pursuit unless the suspect committed a violent felony, according to department policy. Spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said the officer Saturday was just trying to conduct a traffic stop after seeing the 2015 Dodge Charger speeding through the city.
The footage shows he briefly turned on his emergency lights, then shut them off when the Charger sped away through a red light. The officer stopped and called on the radio: "Guys downtown, beware of a car coming at you. … Like a Dodge Charger, running a red light."
Seconds passed and the officer began to drive once more. He called again: "It sounds like he may have just crashed downtown."
Police say Jason Lanard Mitchell, 25, of St. Petersburg ran from the crash scene along with his passenger, Rayvorris Altuan Oliver, 27. Mitchell is accused of trying to escape later from police headquarters and faces charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, aggravated fleeing and eluding, leaving the scene of a crash involving a death and DUI serious bodily injury. Arrest records show Mitchell has a history of interactions with authorities that includes charges of grand theft auto and drug possession.
The Charger was a rental, according to police.
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