Police defend deadly chase

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A man who died after fleeing from police and crashing a stolen car had a long criminal record and was still wearing a jail bracelet, police said.

Two other men were held for investigation of automobile theft following a wild 12-minute chase in which the car lost a tire but kept going for more than a mile Wednesday night.

Christian D. Fairbank, 33, died after a stolen Chrysler Concord snapped a utility pole, flipped over and landed on top of him at an intersection on Capitol Hill.

Fairbank’s license had been suspended, he was sought on a warrant from Bainbridge Island that accused him of drunken driving, and he had been in the King County Jail several times a year in the past decade, records showed.

He was released from the jail Monday after being held overnight for investigation of possessing stolen property.

Late Wednesday night, officer Clem Benton said, police gang Detective Miko Santiago saw two men, one from Tacoma and the other from Seattle, arguing outside the Concord in a gasoline station parking lot.

When a license check showed the car was stolen, Santiago pulled into the gas station and blocked the vehicle.

The two men outside heard other police cars arriving and shouted, "Go, go, go!" Santiago drew his gun, but a third man in the stolen car rammed his cruiser and took off with the detective in pursuit, Benton said.

The two men in the parking lot were jailed for investigation of automobile theft.

Santiago and others pursuing the fleeing car occasionally lost sight of it. At one point, Benton said, the car roared directly at Santiago’s cruiser and the detective barely got out of the way.

It was the second fatal accident involving a driver fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle in King County this month. Two people died Dec. 19 when their car was broadsided by a stolen car at an intersection near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has said he is likely to adopt a more strict policy that would bar high-speed chases involving nonviolent property offenses, but Assistant Chief Jim Pugel said Santiago’s pursuit would still be justified.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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