A 12-year-old Georgia boy was killed in a vehicle crash that occurred when a trooper used a PIT maneuver to end a high-speed chase.
Leden Boykins was a passenger in the car being driven by his neighbor, 35-year-old Charlie Moore, while Georgia State Troopers chased the vehicle on Sept. 10. The boy’s family is now questioning why the trooper couldn’t end the chase in another way that wouldn’t have resulted in his death.
The Georgia State Patrol brought charges against Moore, who led the chase on Highway 92 in Paulding County, which is some 40 miles west of Atlanta. The troopers involved are also under investigation, which is routine when they are involved in a fatal crash.
Georgia State Patrol told NBC in an email on Monday that Moore, a friend of the Boykins family, was pulled over on Friday shortly after 1 a.m. for speeding. Moore was giving the boy a ride home, according to his parents Toni and Anthony Boykins.
However, Moore refused to “lower his driver window or produce any type of identification,” according to the statement. The unnamed trooper called for assistance and a deputy with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office responded and broke Moore’s window.
Moore, a Black man, allegedly told authorities he was a “sovereign citizen,” and then drove away and led police on the chase. Moore was reportedly afraid of what the encounter with police might turn into, and tried to call 911 so sheriffs could intervene.
“The pursuit continued … at a high rate of speed and the driver was driving recklessly. The trooper terminated the chase … by using the Pursuit Immobilization Technique (P.I.T.). The Kia exited the roadway and overturned in a ditch. The rear seat passenger was unrestrained and suffered fatal injuries,” police said.
Moore and a his 14-year-old son, who was also in the vehicle, were treated for minor injuries.
During the chase, Moore was on the phone with 911, local station 11Alive reported. “I am afraid. I’m afraid for my life,” he told the dispatcher.
“They need to get them off of me, right now,” the driver said, “because I’m scared, I’ve got my kids with me, right now.”
After the car was forced off the road, Moore said, “Leden! Leden! Leden! No!…” upon realizing the extent of the boy’s injuries.
Anthony Boykins said Moore bears some responsibility for his son’s death and should not have been speeding with children in the car.
Howvere, he also questioned the trooper’s actions. “Why was he (the driver) considered so dangerous that they had to flip that car with them kids in there?” Anthony asked. “Why did he (the trooper) make that decision? Why did he decide to flip that car knowing there was kids in there?”
The family said no one from law enforcement notified them that there had been a crash and they are not sure who identified Leden’s body.
“He was the sweetest kid. That was taken away from me,” Leden’s mother told NBC. “I don’t know how to deal with this going forward.”
Moore has been charged with murder during the commission of a felony, first-degree homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault against a peace officer. He was also was charged with DUI, having an open container in a motor vehicle and driving on a suspended license. On Monday he remained in custody in the Paulding County jail.
According to Georgia State patrol’s chase policy, troopers are supposed to consider several variables, including whether there are children in the car, and must consider several methods of stopping a vehicle before performing a PIT maneuver.