ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis City and County chapters of the NAACP want a meeting with the chiefs of police from the city and county to discuss police pursuit policies. The civil rights organization made the request in a letter dated May 17.
The letter states during a recent 18-day period, seven lives were lost in vehicle crashes involving suspects fleeing police. The letter calls the situation a “public safety emergency.”
Aaron Piggee lost five family members following a crash on Mother’s Day — his mother Angelique Simmons, uncles Ephraim and Luther Simmons, sister Rhonda Simmons, and 11-year-old niece Takar Thompson.
They were killed when their van was T-boned by the driver of a Jeep near Delmar Boulevard and Pendleton Avenue.
Piggee is asking for prayers. He said planning five funerals at once has been overwhelming for the family.
“Nobody should have to go through this, but we are,” he said.
The day after the crash, police said they did not have any information that officers were pursuing the suspects but said spike strips were deployed. Piggee blames police pursuit policies and the suspects for the deaths of his family members. He believes there are other ways police can track down suspects.
The letter from the NAACP also raises a question about the role spike strips have played in tragic outcomes.
“We have to find a better way, a better alternative because too many lives have been taken away,” said Piggee.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to a request for comment regarding the letter from the NAACP. A spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department said the department’s chief is ready to meet with all parties. She also said the department is an advocate for using spike strips.
Piggee’s family has launched an account to help with funeral expenses.