Need for speed? Swiss court deals blow to police chase
GENEVA (AP) — Good cop? Bad cop! Switzerland’s high court has upheld the conviction of a police officer who was fined for speeding — at nearly twice the limit — while chasing thieves who had blown up a bank teller machine in Geneva three years ago.
The Federal Tribunal confirmed a lower court’s ruling that the officer drove too dangerously by zooming through a residential neighborhood of bicycle lanes and crosswalks at 92 kilometers per hour (57 mph) in a 50-kph zone with his blue lights flashing, but without the siren on.
According to the verdict issued Jan. 17, the officer, who was not identified, argued that he would have been able to stop given the good visibility and little traffic during the pre-dawn chase. He insisted that turning the siren on could have tipped off the criminals.
The cantonal, or regional, court countered that the officer went too far by driving so fast in a pursuit in which no injuries had been identified. Alluding to the thieves, the ruling said: “The danger that the individuals posed at that time was only hypothetical.”
The chase took place after two masked attackers blew up a bank machine in November 2015, drawing in several police patrol cars. It came amid a rash of such ATM machine attacks in the area, and police knew that robbers had thrown nails on the road in previous attacks to ease their getaways.
The speeding case was largely symbolic: The officer was ordered to pay 600 francs (dollars) last year by an appeals court, which had already reduced the penalty handed down in an initial court ruling.