Arrest following high-speed car chase prompted SLED probe of York Police Department, chief

jmcfadden@heraldonline.com, adouglas@heraldonline.comApril 25, 2014 

York Police Chief Andy Robinson

2011 HERALD FILE PHOTO — ANDY BURRISS Buy Photo

— A high-speed police chase that started after a man stole a car prompted this month’s State Law Enforcement Division investigation into the York Police Department and York Police Chief Andy Robinson’s use of force, according to city officials and police documents.

Three York City Council members told The Herald that City Manager Charles Helms on Friday showed them video from the April 4 chase and arrest. The video Helms showed lasted 10 minutes or less and shows Robinson on the scene during the arrest of the man charged with stealing the car, the councilmen said.

The video ended with Robinson getting out of his car and approaching the suspect, who was handcuffed and on the ground, Councilman Ed Brown said.

Other law enforcement officials are seen on the video, but the video was shot too far away from the arrest scene for a viewer to see much detail, Mayor Eddie Lee said after watching the footage twice.

Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Johnson, who also watched the video on Friday, said it hasn’t “got much on it.” Johnson said he didn’t observe Robinson doing anything “worth investigating.”

Johnson declined to comment further, saying he couldn’t add more detail because SLED is still investigating. Lee told The Herald that SLED officials are including in their investigation interviews with many law enforcement officials who were on the scene.

Robinson has refused to comment on the investigation since it became public on Monday when The Herald reported it on heraldonline.com. Helms issued a statement Thursday that said the investigation involved “use of force” during an arrest but added he would not comment further until the probe was completed.

Police records from both the York Police Department and York County Sheriff’s Office show that the April 4 chase started at about 11:40 a.m., after a car theft from the parking lot of the BP Gas Station and China Garden eatery on Chester Highway in the York city limits.

Authorities obtained a description of the stolen gold Buick and used the in-vehicle OnStar system to track the car as it left the gas station. Police later identified and arrested Jacob Floyd Bailey, 29, of Marietta, S.C., the man they say stole the car. He was released from jail on bond on April 5.

A York police lieutenant initially tried stopping Bailey as he drove off U.S. 321 toward McConnells, according to police documents. But, Bailey did not immediately pull over and the chase continued until officers arrested him nearly one hour later, records show.

Bailey led York officers on a chase through the city, eventually traveling on S.C. 5 into the York County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction and, later, toward Rock Hill, according to police reports. Sheriff’s office deputies joined the chase, which reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

At one point, officers stopped their pursuit but renewed the chase when Bailey took S.C. 5, heading back toward York, police reports state. He finally stopped in a residential driveway on Park Place Road, where officers surrounded Bailey and arrested him. Bailey was “extracted” from the stolen car by “county units” who arrested him on the ground, a York Police Department report states.

Authorities issued Bailey a traffic ticket for reckless driving, and city of York police warrants show he was charged with grand larceny, failure to stop for a blue light and possession of controlled substances. He was also charged with driving under the influence and third-degree assault and battery, according to the sheriff’s office report.

Bailey admitted to drug use, including methamphetamine and hydrocodone, the report states. He also admitted to deputies that he stole the car from the York gas station before fleeing from police, according to York Police Department records.

Neither the York Police Department nor the sheriff’s office reports obtained by The Herald this week mention Robinson joining the April 4 police chase or being at the scene of the arrest on Park Place Road. Both departments’ records appear to not list every officer at the scene.

The video of the arrest that Brown saw on Friday shows officers kneeling on the ground near Bailey with Robinson standing nearby, Brown said. He described the footage as a short clip in which he did not see any “excessive force.”

Police reports from the arrest do not describe a struggle with Bailey while handcuffing him or state that anyone was injured during the chase or arrest. Deputies noted in their report that field sobriety tests were not given to Bailey immediately after the chase because he needed to remain handcuffed, “for fear that he would fight or flee.”

The Herald’s efforts to reach Bailey over several days this week were unsuccessful.

Bailey is awaiting trial on an October 2013 attempted murder charge in Greenville County, court records show. His criminal history includes convictions for driving under suspension, unlawful carrying of a weapon and receiving stolen goods, according to SLED records.

In November 2012, Bailey was placed on probation in which he was to perform community service, said Pete O’Boyle, spokesman for the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. On Friday, probation officials issued warrants on Bailey that will charge him with violating his probation once he is found, O’Boyle said.

The Herald has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the York Police Department and city officials, asking for video and audio from the April 4 chase and arrest.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082 Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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