WASHINGTON - Illegal dirt bikes and ATVs continue to plague the streets of D.C causing unsafe situations and frustrating both drivers and police officers. D.C. police have long had a no-chase policy, but one driver questioned whether that had changed after what she witnessed on Monday in Southeast D.C.
Carlitta Chambers said she was on East Capitol Street and Benning Road when she recorded on her cell phone what appeared to be police officers in their vehicles chasing ATVs riders. In the video, police cruisers are seen trailing behind the riders on the roadway before a police SUV drives onto the grassy median to follow one of the riders.
"I'm like, 'Hold up, I thought they weren't supposed to chase in the city?'" Chambers said. "If you're not able to grab a hold of them, there's no reason to dash through intersections."
In a statement, D.C. police told FOX 5 what led up to what Chambers recorded.
"A person illegally operating an ATV began throwing bricks at MPD officers, striking the windshield of an MPD cruiser and narrowly missing an officer," reads a statement from police. "The suspect then fled on the ATV and officers pursued it with the help of a helicopter. Officers eventually located the suspect hiding inside an apartment in the 5000 block of Dix Street, NE."
People we spoke to still had some concerns.
"Police don't deserve to have bricks thrown at them, but I feel like they could have handled the situation differently," said Jajuan Jones. "I'm glad they caught him."
"It makes you say, 'I understand why you want to go and chase after them or pursue after them because you don't know what they are going to do to people,'" said Nayo Campbell. "You never know if somebody might cut them off in traffic and they get upset and start getting aggressive with that person. So I think at end of the day, the police are trying to protect and serve and do what they were trained to do. But when you are watching the video, you are like, 'Why is he on the sidewalk chasing after people?'"
FOX 5 asked police if there are exceptions to the no-chase policy.
"We conduct an investigation after every pursuit to determine whether proper protocol was followed which will happen in this case," D.C. police spokesperson Rachel Reid said in a statement.
Police say the man arrested is Donte Marquis Washington, of Northeast D.C. He is charged with two counts of assault on a police officer, unauthorized use of a vehicle, vandalizing/damaging/destroying/taking property of a government official, receiving stolen property, operation of all-terrain vehicles and fleeing from law enforcement.