The police chase began after a $3,000 bank robbery in Arlington on Sept. 27, 1979. A county police officer pursued two suspects at high speed across the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge into Washington. The suspects' car ran a red light, collided with another auto, then ricocheted into a pedestrian, who lost his legs as a result.
The pedestrian, Al Biscoe, later filed a $25 million damage suit against everybody involved, including the D.C. and Arlington police departments and the Arlington officer, Michael Kyle.
With the case still pending in U.S. District Court in Washington, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) yesterday introduced legislation in Congress that would grant immunity from such lawsuits to suburban law enforcement officers and agencies involved in similar incidents in the future.
Wolf said the legislation would amend the D.C. Code to make liability in civil actions arising from "hot pursuit" by suburban police subject to the laws of the police officers' state, not of the District. Virginia law provides "sovereign immunity" for officers doing their duty, meaning they cannot be sued. District law, however, permits such lawsuits, and U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene ruled that the law permits Arlington officer Kyle to be sued.
Wolf said the legislation was drafted at the request of Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Henry Hudson and acting County Attorney Charles Flinn, and has drawn support from Alexandria and the Virginia State Police.