Probe into police chase uncovers no wrongdoing

A Gonzales Police Department internal investigation uncovered no wrongdoing stemming from a Dec. 18 police chase that left two people dead in Iberville Parish.

Police Chief Sherman Jackson said in a two-paragraph written statement that he had reviewed all of the reports and audio recordings available from the chase, which started at the Tanger Outlet Center on La. 30 in Gonzales, and found that no policies or procedures were broken during the chase.

“Based on the findings, I have determined that no Gonzales Police Department policy was violated by any officer involved in this incident,” Jackson said in the statement issued Wednesday.

The chase started when two shoplifting suspects, Kevdrinka T. Williams, 25, of Baton Rouge, and Tremaine R. Wickem, 20, of New Orleans, fled the Tanger parking lot after previously being detained by a Gonzales police officer.

Williams drove a 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser west on La. 30, leading the pursuing Gonzales officer on an approximately 12-minute high-speed chase that exceeded 90 mph, according to 911 dispatch audio recordings.

Despite being warned on multiple occasions by his commanding officer to end the chase if it became too dangerous, the officer continued pursuit into Iberville Parish and St. Gabriel.

When Williams attempted to pass vehicles on the shoulder just east of the La. 74 intersection, she lost control of her car and collided head-on with a Toyota Tundra driven by Warren Porta III, 34, of Gonzales.

Williams and Wickem died on impact, while both Porta and his passenger, Bradley Nolan, 48, of Geismar, sustained moderate injuries in the collision. Porta and Nolan were wearing seat belts, and law enforcement officials said they were lucky the collision wasn’t a four-fatality wreck.

Jackson later acknowledged that he was considering possible changes in the way the Gonzales Police Department would handle such pursuits in the future.

The department has a pursuit policy that was rewritten about a year ago, Jackson said, but he’s looking at making some tweaks to the policy.

After that review is finished and approved by the city attorney, Jackson said, the
new policy would be implemented.

He declined to release any specific changes at this time.

“There will be some changes,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “There’s no 100 percent safe ... pursuit policy, but we are paying attention to things. ... We’re going to look out for the safety of innocent people more, so we’ll see how it works.”