BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two 16-year-olds remain in custody accused of causing two different police chases which resulted in injuries to officers. Both are facing serious charges, but are being treated as adolescent offenders.
The teens are being held at the East Ferry Detention Center, although one has the possibility of getting out on $25,000 bail because the injuries to the officers involved in Monday night’s car chase were not considered to be serious enough to hold without bail.
“There’s no accountability now,” says Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.
DA Flynn says when the ‘Raise The Age Law‘ took effect two years ago, he agreed with the premise that 16 and 17-year-olds should no longer be prosecuted as adults because their brains aren’t fully developed yet.
But now he says it allows them to go through Family Court and very rarely are they held in custody.
“And George, kids know that. These kids are not stupid, they know that and there’s a sense of emboldenment now that they know that if they get caught doing something bad they’re going to Family Court and they’re not looking at any serious jail time,” said DA Flynn.
“Again you have police officers that inherently want to do the job and they want to catch the bad guy and when the plate readers go off, we have plate readers on most vehicles, it indicates the steal right there, bang. So it gives you an alarm on your computer and usually, you’ll do a U-Turn and go after the individual,” added Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans.
That’s what happened Monday night when Lt. Nicole Santiago approached a stolen car and was dragged by a 16-year-old driver who then drove off. Captain Jeff Rinaldo says police chases are allowed for serious crimes like that.
Buffalo Police Department Capitan Jeff Rinaldo told News 4, “Every pursuit should be evaluated as if it should be engaged in in the first place. There’s a duty officer on duty round the clock who is responsible for monitoring and canceling the pursuit if it becomes too dangerous.”
If convicted, both of these teen drivers could face up to 15 years in prison. Officer Jonathan Negron remains in critical condition after last week’s chase, but the six officers injured in the chase two nights ago are not seriously hurt.
George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.