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Pursuit after traffic stop kills man; two injured

Published January 7, 2005

TAMPA - The high-speed pursuit of a felon with a history of dangerous driving ended in west Tampa late Wednesday, when the fleeing car smashed into a Tampa family's Buick, killing one person and injuring two.

Police say the impact killed Buick driver George Galindo, 50, and injured his brother and sister-in-law, who had just left St. Joseph's Hospital after visiting the Galindos' ailing father.

The white Buick overturned and hit a black Saturn, leaving that driver with minor injuries and major damage to his car.

After the crash, suspect Dwayne Devon Brown abandoned the red Mitsubishi he had been driving and tried to run from the scene, police said, but officers caught and arrested him. He faces a dozen charges, all but one of them felonies.

Temple Terrace police defended the decision to chase Brown - even though officers initially wanted to pull him over only for traffic violations, including having an expired tag and a modified muffler.

Tampa police and Hillsborough sheriff's deputies do not chase suspects for traffic violations. And Wednesday night, Tampa police refused Temple Terrace's request for help with the pursuit after Brown drove into the city of Tampa.

"It is truly unfortunate that Mr. Galindo was killed and others were hurt," said Temple Terrace Deputy Chief Patricia Powers. "But the facts of the case warranted him being apprehended. This was in line with our policy."

Brown, 27, was initially seen at 10:36 p.m. on Busch Boulevard near 56th Street in Temple Terrace. An officer saw the Mitsubishi cut across two lanes of traffic and then noticed it had a modified muffler, according to a criminal affidavit.

Powers said the officer also discovered the tag on the car had expired. The officer tried to pull Brown over, but Brown drove through a Walgreens parking lot and turned his headlights off as he got back onto 56th Street, according to officials.

He drove north in the southbound lanes, prompting the officer to warn dispatchers and other officers that Brown might be drunk, Powers said.

Two more Temple Terrace officers joined in the chase, turning their emergency lights on as they drove south down 56th Street toward Busch Boulevard. Brown sped toward the officers, forcing them off the road, Powers said.

"At that point, it became aggravated assault on an officer," Powers said.

The officers chased Brown as he sped west into Tampa. Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said dispatchers there got a call at 10:39 p.m. from Temple Terrace seeking help with the pursuit, but the Temple Terrace dispatcher said the car was not stolen and that Brown's violation was "just traffic."

"We don't pursue on traffic," McElroy said. "We also don't pursue on DUI."

At 10:50 p.m. the Mitsubishi was going south on N Armenia Avenue at an estimated 60 mph when it ran through a red light at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and slammed into Galindo's Buick, according to a Tampa police report.

Galindo, a Cuban native who moved to Tampa a few years ago, died several hours later at St. Joseph's Hospital. His brother, Jesus Santos Galindo, 61, of 1404 E 25th St., was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He remains there in critical condition.

His daughter, Bianca Galindo, 21, said one of his lungs collapsed, and he has broken ribs. Bianca's mother, Odalis Galindo, 45, had surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital early Thursday to repair injuries to her arms. She is in fair condition.

"My mom is in a lot of pain," Bianca Galindo said. "This is very hard."

Jimmy Pancoast, 41, was stopped at the red light at Armenia Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard when the Mitsubishi hit Galindo's Buick. The Buick overturned and hit Pancoast's black Saturn. Next, the Mitsubishi and a Temple Terrace police car hit Pancoast's Saturn, too, he said.

"I live half a block away. I just went to Walgreens to get some milk," he said Thursday after he was treated and released from Tampa General Hospital. "If they weren't pursuing that guy like that, this wouldn't have happened. It's ridiculous."

[Last modified January 7, 2005, 01:29:20]

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