ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A man faces a murder charge after police said a 14-year-old was hit and killed by a stolen car during a chase on Sunday in Round Rock.
Leandro Brito-Martinez, 25, was arrested and is accused of driving that stolen car. An arrest warrant for Brito-Martinez listed his bond as $1 million for the murder charge. He doesn’t have an attorney listed at this time.
The crash occurred at the intersection of La Frontera and Louis Henna boulevards in the afternoon.
A felony complaint/affidavit said officers were tipped off about a stolen car on Gattis School Road by the Flock camera system. Flock cameras help record a vehicle’s license plate, make, model and color. The data can then be used to solve crimes, including stolen vehicle cases.
Officers began trying to locate the stolen car, a white, four-door, 2019 Honda. The affidavit said the car was listed as stolen in a Texas law enforcement system by the Austin Police Department, and it was stolen that same day.
Officers followed the car to a shopping center parking lot on Louis Henna, when the car got onto the Interstate 35 frontage road. That’s when an officer activated their patrol car lights, and a chase started, according to the affidavit.
Police said the car weaved through traffic in what appeared to be an attempt to evade officers. Then, the Honda drove through a red light at the intersection of La Frontera and Louis Henna boulevards and hit a Kia, according to the affidavit. The stolen Honda came to a stop about 300 feet west of the intersection.
The driver of the Honda got out and began running away from officers but was eventually arrested and identified as Brito-Martinez, the affidavit said.
Officers found the 14-year-old in the roadway near where the stolen Honda stopped, which was approximately 300 feet from the crash. Officers said the child had “extensive injuries” from being hit by the stolen car and was eventually pronounced dead at the scene, the affidavit said.
Police said the kid was walking on the crosswalk when the stolen Honda hit him.
According to the affidavit, in an interview with police caught on body camera, Brito-Martinez said he knew he had arrest warrants and admitted he tried to get away from police when the patrol car lights were turned on. Brito-Martinez also said in the interview, which was documented in the affidavit, that he was going so fast when approaching the intersection he couldn’t stop.
Flock camera systems
Earlier this year, the Round Rock Police Department was testing out 30 Flock license plate reader cameras. The free trial began in April and was set to end June 17. The choice to continue to program required council’s approval for funding.
Data collected from the cameras is stored on servers for 30 days and then purged and can be shared between neighboring law enforcement agencies.
Williamson County and Pflugerville Police have also opted to install cameras.
Round Rock Police Pursuit Policy
‘As the Officer began to initiate a traffic stop, the suspect drove off at a high rate of speed. The Officer attempted to catch up to the vehicle but determined further engagement was not safe and the report of a stolen vehicle did not represent an immediate need to stop and apprehend the suspect, so the Officer disengaged. Then the crash occurred.’ -Round Rock Police Department
TMPA talks police pursuit policies
“We’ve got 2,900 different agencies in this state and there is not one set policy,” said Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association.
The Round Rock Police Department’s pursuit policy states “The pursuit must not create unreasonable danger to the police or the public”.
Lawrence says depending on what type of crime is committed can make a difference on if police pursue.
“It has always been and continues to be judgment that has to be made on public safety,” said Lawrence. “You have to be thinking is this a violent crime I am trying to arrest this person for, or is this a low level traffic offense.”
Some departments have made changes when an accident or death takes place as a result of a police pursuit.
“Now we have seen agencies go to the absolute extreme and implement a no pursuit at all policy, but they almost always reverse course on that because what they find it is exponentially more less safe.”
Lawrence says there is always a risk, but having a well reviewed policy can keep innocent bystanders safe, and also the officers.