Kristi Menzies, a Manatee County, Florida police officer, is facing scrutiny after four motorcyclists accused her of conducting an unsafe pursuit. Robert Martin, William Greenwald, and Daniel Phillips, all of Manatee County, Florida had some of the criminal charges against them dropped as a result of the accusations. Menzies has since undergone coaching and counseling, though the Florida Highway Patrol has not taken disciplinary action against her. It remains to be seen whether Martin, Greenwald, and Phillips will file lawsuits against Menzies or the Manatee Police Department.
Reports of the incident began when a dash cam video from Menzies' patrol car showed her pursuing a group of four speeding motorcyclists. The pursuit occurred down I-75 near mile marker 227 in Manatee County. During the high-speed chase, sources say Menzies was recorded driving at speeds of 130 MPH. A Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson also said that Menzies failed to notify their communications center that a she was involved in the chase. Both actions violate police policy.
During the video, reports say that Menzies can be seen doing a "rolling roadblock," a dangerous maneuver that must be okayed by a supervisor prior to use. She allegedly did not do this. "Anytime we do a rolling roadblock, we have to consider the size of the vehicle, the speed of the vehicle. In that situation a supervisor would more than likely not approve such a request," the FHP spokesperson said.
When Menzies did manage to pull over one of the bikers - Martin - she reportedly ordered the man to follow her in the chase for the remaining three. Martin's attorney cited this as being dangerous, though a spokesperson from the Florida Highway Patrol said she likely issued the orders because she had pulled the biker over while another of the bikers, later identified as Greenwald, pulled over on a bridge. "I think the initial logic behind having that second motorcycle follow her off the bridge was that they were on a bridge," the spokesperson said. "The traffic stop was going to resume off the bridge itself."
However, Greenwald took off. Instead of stopping, Menzies allegedly began to pursue him at high speeds again while Martin followed. "She then had to accelerate to catch up to that vehicle, and, thankfully, the other motorcycle did comply. [He] eventually pulled up to the same location," the spokesperson said. "I don't have any knowledge of [Martin] exceeding the speed limit."
A third biker, Phillips, was also pulled over by an off-duty ATF agent who assisted in the chase. After their arrest, Martin was charged with reckless driving and excessive speed 50+ MPH over the limit. Greenwald was charged with attempt to elude a law enforcement officer, reckless driving, and driving without a valid motorcycle license. Phillips received one charge of reckless driving and excessive speed 50+ MPH over the limit.
Upon review of the dash cam footage, all charges against Martin were dropped. "She was saying that they were going 120 [MPH] in a 70 [MPH zone], weaving within traffic," a FHP spokesperson said. "But there's a video that we did discover that doesn't show any of that." The charge of eluding a law enforcement officer was also dropped against Greenwald, and he decided to plead no contest to the reckless driving and driving without a motorcycle license. He was sentenced to six-month probation and had to apologize to Menzies. Phillips also had the reckless driving charge against him dropped, though he is still due in court for the speeding ticket.
Under a new FHP policy that went into effect in May, "Motorcycle pursuits are strictly prohibited unless a forcible felony is being committed," a FPH spokesperson said.