3 times in a week, teens led officers on high-speed chases in Sacramento area

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Three times within a week, teenagers have led law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase, one seriously hurting a pedestrian and one killing another driver.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — A 55-year-old man is dead after he was hit by a car involved in a high-speed chase in Elk Grove. Police said the driver of the car was 13 years old.

This is the third high-speed chase involving a teen in just one week.

The Elk Grove incident happened on Monday night. Elk Grove police said a 13-year-old driving a stolen vehicle led officers on a high speed chase. Police said the pursuit ended when the 13-year-old crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of Laguna and Franklin boulevards. The driver of that second car was pronounced dead on Tuesday. He was identified as Gregg Umipeg.

Earlier on Monday afternoon in an unrelated incident, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said two armed teen gang members – also in a stolen vehicle – led deputies on a high-speed chase. Officials said the teens hit a pedestrian, who suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive. The teens were eventually arrested.

And a week ago, another high-speed chase involving teens ended in a fiery crash on the Capital City Freeway, near Fifth and X streets. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) said gang detectives tried pulling the car over for an equipment violation near Broadway and 37th Street, when the driver sped off.

SCSO spokesperson Sgt. Amar Gandhi said the two in the vehicle were 16-year-olds in a gang, and they had three guns with them. Nobody was hurt.

“Not every gang member is a bad guy. A lot of them are decent kids that are trapped, but there are some that are straight up criminals – and we need to call them that,” Sgt. Gandhi said. “These guys that we’ve arrested over the past couple of days are straight up criminals. Now, again, is their future lost forever? Maybe not. But we need to take some hard intervention, take a hard look at what we’re doing and how can we actually reach and maybe help them, but more importantly than anything else, we’ve got to keep the public safe.”

It’s all too common, Sgt. Gandhi said, for teens accused of serious crimes to get booked into juvenile detention and get out on probation just days later. The two accused in last week’s chase are still locked up because investigators have now linked them to a shooting that happened earlier in the day.

“This was a simple vehicle stop – a vehicle stop that manifested into something much more,” Sgt. Gandhi said. 

He’s critical of proposed state legislation – SB 50 – that would bar law enforcement officers from stopping people for low-level offenses like a broken tail light.

“The more tools you take away from law enforcement, the more tools you take away from prosecutors, it’s again just another drop in the bucket of why we are not safe anymore,” he said. “The community is fed up. The community wants criminals in jail. The community wants to feel safe again.”

Advocates for SB 50 weren’t available for an interview on Tuesday, but speaking in favor of it back in March, Dwayne Crenshaw, president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League said, “We know that far too often, Black and Brown folks are pulled over.”

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) is the bill’s sponsor and said, “it will also free up law enforcement to do the real work that they need to do instead of stopping folks because a tail light isn’t working.”

His office said they are still working on making SB 50 law this year.

ABC10 also spoke with advocate Berry Accius, who runs a community-based organization (CBO) called Voice of the Youth, which uplifts local young people.

“I’m seeing too many of these kids go in, come out, do the same exact thing,” he said. “There has to be some level of accountability, some level of transitioning, that has to happen with our young people. And I’m saying that we may have to really look at changing some of those laws, I hate to say it.”

He said teens need to know there are serious consequences for serious crimes and would like to see rehabilitation include groups like his, which offer support and structure.

“If we don’t get in front of it, we’re just going to continue to see worse and worse teens,” Accius said.

Sgt. Gandhi said law enforcement agencies typically see youth violence and crime go up over the summer.

Accius said while that has historically been the case, he saw a big uptick in issues during and after COVID.

“We’re talking about two-and-a-half years that they lacked structure. Two-and-a-half years that they were social distanced, they were isolated. And a lot of the advocates – a lot of the CBOs that do the work like I do… not only didn’t have funding, or if we got funding… it was dispersed in a way where we were not able to get to some of those kids that needed more support,” Accius said. “How can we bring it back to where our kids don’t feel isolated? Or our kids are getting some of the mental health that they need and our kids are getting some of the support that they need, that they don’t go down a bad path?”

He pointed to the influence social media have on kids, including when it comes to criminal activity.

“If these kids are normalizing behavior, they’re desensitized by the behavior, and it’s almost entertaining (to them) in a way like – this is a part of content,” Accius said. “It’s not deterring them from doing things… They’re only mimicking each other.”

16-year-old gang members lead deputies on chase that ends in fiery crash in Sacramento, deputies say

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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