In June, 2012, an FHP trooper was radar timing cars traveling west on Port St. Lucie Boulevard in the area of the Floresta Drive intersection. The trooper was watching cars as they came down the west side of the bridge over the north fork of the St. Lucie River. Drivers ordinarily have to brake on the downslope in order to avoid exceeding the 45 mph speed limit.
The trooper alleged that Kelly King (not her real name) was traveling 77 mph on this downslope. The trooper alleged that he pulled behind Kelly’s car with his emergency lights activated. At this point, the trooper alleged, Kelly’s vehicle accelerated to 84-85 mph and, according to the trooper’s report, “appeared to be attempting to flee from me”.
Fortunately for Kelly, the trooper’s on-board camera recorded the entire incident. Kelly’s attorney, Jeffrey Garland, would later use the video to prove the trooper’s assertions to be false.
Google Earth was used to estimate the distance from Floresta Drive to Rich Avenue as approximately 2000 feet. The trooper’s video camera showed Kelly’s car passing Floresta at 12:32:11, then turning right on Rich at about 12:32:47. This portion of the video lasted 36 seconds.
According to the trooper’s report, Kelly was traveling 77 mph, then accelerated to 84-85 mph, before finally slowing down enough to turn right onto Rich Avenue. The video and a simple math computation demonstrated the falsity of the accusation.
A car going 77 mph would travel approximately 113 feet per second and cover the entire 2000 feet in approximately17.7 seconds. Since it took 36 seconds for the car to traverse the entire 2000 feet, the car could not possible have averaged 77 mph. In fact, the “speed/time formula” shows that traveling a distance of 2000 feet in 36 seconds would yield an average speed of 56 feet per second. This converts to an average speed of 38 mph, which substantially less than the 45 mph speed limit on Port St. Lucie Boulevard.
The video analysis and speed calculation were instrumental in securing dismissal of the fleeing and attempting to elude charge.
Law enforcement officers are subject to the same foibles as ordinary human beings. Many people have a tendency to exaggerate to make for a better story. In Kelly’s case, the gross exaggeration of speed was irrefutably proved through evidence and mathematics. Such analysis is usually important to the proper defense of a charge to rebut the tendency not to believe the person who gets arrested. The actual reason for stopping may have been connected to the fact that Kelly and her passenger were attractive young women in their early 20s. When the given reason for action (fleeing and attempting to elude) is demonstrably false, the actual motivation for action may be significantly different.