For Charlene Ross, her life changed forever on June 29, 2018.
That evening, her son, Shonquell Barrett, of Aberdeen, was killed while fleeing from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol when they used a PIT maneuver to stop Barrett. His car veered off the road and crashed into a power pole and tree. Click here to read more on Barrett’s crash.
Ross and a small group of supporters gathered on Oct. 28 at the North Carolina State Highway Patrol/Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Aberdeen determined that this would not happen to another family.
Charlene Ross and a small group gather at North Carolina State Highway Patrol/Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Aberdeen on Oct. 28, 2022.
Ross is spearheading an effort to get the PIT maneuver outlawed in North Carolina and nationwide. Her group has worked with parents in other states who have suffered similar tragedies. They have recently traveled to Georgia and worked with grieving relatives there.
According to law officials, “A PIT maneuver, or Pursuit Intervention Technique, is a pursuit tactic by which a pursuing car can force a fleeing car to abruptly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop.”
PIT maneuvers have been used since the 1980s. In recent years, some agencies have banned the procedure, and others have strictly limited the speed at which it can be used (generally around 45-55 mph).
According to Ross, the police attempted the PIT maneuver at speeds exceeding 80 mph. “They are not trained to do the maneuver at that speed,” she stated. “It was excessive force and not justified by the circumstances.”
In January 2019, the Moore County District Attorney concluded the sergeant who used the PIT maneuver on Barrett did not use excessive force, and no criminal charges were filed. To read more on this, please click here.
According to police, Barrett initially fled a checkpoint. The family admits he was driving illegally without a license, insurance, or up-to-date registration. Ross argues that the police had no probable cause, and the PIT maneuver is only to be used in “the case of a violent crime.”
Ross is determined to see the PIT maneuver banned. According to Ross, “What has happened to my son in 2018 has continued to happen again and again. It needs to stop.”
Feature photo: Charlene Ross and a small group gather at North Carolina State Highway Patrol/Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Aberdeen on Oct. 28, 2022. Ross held another demonstration at the office in the summer of 2018.
~Article, photo, and video by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].