Family of innocent NJ woman killed in drug-suspect chase also blames cops
HAMILTON — The family of a 22-year-old Trenton woman who was killed when a drug suspect leading cops on a high-speed chase slammed into her car Monday night is blaming both the suspect and the police for the tragedy.
"On 9/12/16 our angel was taken from us, and at the hands of wreckless (sic) law enforcement, and careless criminals, we must make them pay!" the family's online fundraiser says.
Deja Farrior was turning left onto Park Avenue from Broad Street when her black Honda Civic was struck on the passenger side by Chandler Heaviside, 22, who State Police say was fleeing police after they spotted him involved in a drug transaction in Trenton.
Heaviside was driving a Chevy Trailblazer with two other passengers. Although Heaviside was fleeing police, prosecutors say cops gave up the chase several blocks away, more than a mile before Heaviside ran the red light at the intersection and shoved Farrior's car into a telephone pole.
Heaviside then got out of his car and ran away on foot, police said.
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri said police had pursued the Trailblazer with their lights and sirens on.
Prosecutors said police gave up the search in the area of White Horse Circle in Hamilton as the Trailblazer continued north on South Broad Street.
Trenton police assisted with the arrests. Prosecutors did not say how many police vehicles were involved in the chase.
Police chases: Balancing public safety
The fatal crash raises questions about whether police followed state policy regulating vehicle pursuits of suspects.
The state Attorney General's policy was crafted in order to "weigh a police officer's sworn duty to apprehend lawbreakers with the obligation to protect life and the public safety."
Under the policy, cops are allowed to pursue someone suspected of a first or second-degree crime. Police also can pursue if a suspect is believed to be involved in vehicular homicide, aggravated assault, criminal restraint, aggravated criminal sexual contact, arson, burglary, auto theft, extortion, escape or drug-dealing charges.
Cops may also pursue when they "reasonably" believe the suspect "poses an immediate threat to the safety of the public or other police officers."
Police officers have to quickly decide whether or not to pursue a suspect. In doing so, "police officers are subject to all motor vehicle laws including those laws governing the right of way," the policy states.
Among the reasons that cops are supposed to end a chase: if they determine the suspect's identity and can try to make a later arrest; if the distance between them and the suspect's vehicle "becomes so great that further pursuit is futile;" or if there is "a clear and unreasonable danger" to the police or public.
Heaviside is facing charges of death by auto while under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, causing death while driving with a suspended license, assault by auto, eluding and drug possession.
The passengers — Lawrence Sears, 28, of Manchester, and Harry Remington 3rd, 25, of Brick — were issued summonses for charges of drug possession after heroin was found on the floor of the car, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.
None of the suspects were hit with drug-dealing charges.
Heaviside has a prior conviction and arrests related to drugs. Last year he pleaded guilty to a 2013 charge of manufacturing or distributing less than a 1/2 ounce of heroin. A third-degree charge of heroin possession was dismissed as part of the deal. He served 270 days in county jail and got three years of probation, court records show.
Farrior's death shocked relatives and the community.
"Déja Farrior-Quinones was a woman with ambition, goals, and a person who touched everyone with her smile," the family's fundraiser page says. "She didn't deserve to be taken from us at the young age of 22, she was just starting her life. Our hearts mourn for her, and we need closure. Please help us in our fight for truth and justice. We miss you Deja, now and forever. God bless our angel."
The fundraiser had raised less than $2,300 of a $1 million goal by Wednesday morning.
Also on New Jersey 101.5:
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.