The chase, county police said, lasted less than a minute and started when an officer spotted a silver Acura driving “in an erratic manner” in unincorporated Hyattsville. Just before 11 p.m., the officer attempted to pull the driver over, police said, and he initially stopped.
But when the officer approached the Acura, the car sped away, authorities said.
The officer returned to his patrol vehicle and, lights activated, began to chase the Acura, police said. In compliance with Prince George’s County protocol for police pursuits, the department said, the officer “broadcasted” the Acura’s license plate information over the police radio to determine whether the vehicle was connected to a serious crime. Another officer looked up the license plate information and said the tags did not belong to the Acura — so the supervisor then called off the chase, police said.
At the same time, county officials said, Smith lost control of the Acura and crashed into a tree at Michigan Avenue and Bunker Hill Road NE. Prince George’s officers “attempted to render aid” to Smith, but he died at the scene, police said. His body was taken to the D.C. medical examiner’s office.
The county officer who pursued Smith has been placed on administrative leave, per department protocol, as internal affairs investigates his handling of the traffic stop. D.C. police are handling the crash investigation.