A 17-year-old who was fatally injured Monday when a dirt bike he was riding hit a tree in Southeast Washington had been fleeing from Prince George’s County police, his family and authorities said.
The teen, Amir Brooks of Prince George’s, and a cousin were on a green Kawasaki dirt bike when they crashed about 2:40 p.m. at 36th Street and Alabama Avenue.
A police officer saw a dirt bike being operated illegally in the 1900 block of Brooks Drive in District Heights about 2:15 p.m., police said in a statement.
“The officer activated his lights and attempted to verify with the dispatcher whether the dirt bike was connected to a recent armed robbery at a county business,” the statement said. “While awaiting confirmation, the officer pursued the fleeing dirt bike in Prince George’s County.”
County officials declined to release additional details, including how fast the officer may have been driving. The county’s Special Investigation Response Team is conducting an administrative investigation, officials said.
Gwendolyn Crump, the D.C. police department’s chief spokeswoman, would say only that the incident remains under investigation. D.C. police said they were not involved until after the crash.
Amir’s mother, Pamela Brooks, said that according to what police and her son’s cousin told her, the teens were riding at an apartment complex near Marlboro Pike and Brooks Drive in Maryland.
One of the boys’ hats blew off, and Amir turned around on the bike to fetch it, Brooks said, and that’s when police in the complex began following the teens. Somehow, the incident took them into the District, Brooks said, where Amir and his cousin lost control of the bike and crashed. It’s illegal to ride a dirt bike on Maryland or D.C. roads.
“It’s not like they robbed a bank,” Brooks said. “Why did you chase them?”
Amir’s cousin, who may have suffered a concussion in the crash, has said he remembers lights flashing on a police car behind them, said Lavonne Coates, a longtime friend of the family who spoke on its behalf.
“I think the kids were scared,” Coates said. “The lights came on, they got scared and just kept going.”
It is unclear whether the youth contends that the cruiser crossed into the District, Coates said. She said an attorney for the Brooks family will investigate the circumstances of Amir’s death.
Amir’s mother said she doesn’t know where her son got the dirt bike he was riding, but she added that if her son didn’t stop for police, it was because he “probably got scared.”
“It’s horrible,” Brooks said. “I am trying to figure out what is going on.”
Prince George’s police tightened its pursuit policies in September 2012 after one of its officers died in a crash. The county limited pursuits to suspects involved in carjackings, homicides, armed robberies and shootings in which someone was struck. Their review will determine whether policies were properly followed.
D.C. police do not allow their officers to chase dirt bikes, even though they draw complaints from residents because riders often travel in packs and disregard traffic laws.
District police are conducting the investigation into how the crash occurred and whether any laws were broken.
Amir’s mother said her son died at 12:12 a.m. Wednesday and that Amir’s cousin, who was injured, remains in the hospital. Amir, who was planning to attend barber school in the District this fall, went to military school and loved to play the drums, Brooks said. He would often perform in local go-go bands.
“He was a good kid,” Brooks said. “He had a bright future ahead of him, and it was cut short.”