Family of man killed in deadly pursuit questions APD’s policy - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Family of man killed in deadly pursuit questions APD’s policy

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An Austin man's family is questioning Austin's Police Department's pursuit policy after their loved one was killed by the driver of a stolen truck.

On Friday police say 37-year-old Reynaldo Hernandez Jr. stole a Ford F-250 at the Barton Creek Mall and led officers on a chase to the intersection of I-35 and Packsaddle Pass.

When Hernandez entered the intersection he killed 32-year-old James Williford, who family members say was on his way to give money to a friend dying of cancer.

Williford was a husband and his mother's only child. He worked for Seton Hospitals, where he met his wife Esther of two years.

The last text messages that Williford sent to his wife on Friday read $50 or $100? I got $100. Meaning the amount of money he was taking for his friend on hospice care for ovarian cancer. She ended up dying that same day too.

Williford's sister-in-law says it was a senseless loss of life. They want APD to stop pursuing stolen vehicles.

Earlier Monday, officers held a news conference about this issue. We learned that Hernandez went as fast as 96 miles per hour, ran at least two red lights and caused other cars to veer off the road to avoid being hit by him.

Assistant Chief Sean Mannix says it is within pursuit policy to give chase for auto theft. He also said the pursuit involving Hernandez lasted a minute and a half and he believed the two officers involved were seconds away from calling it off.

"I don't believe citizens of Austin want or deserve a no pursuit policy. In this case officers had information that felonies had been committed and the driver was unidentified at the time that the officers got behind the vehicle. They would not have been doing their jobs if they turned a blind eye and let this felon drive up the street," said Mannix.

Police say even after Hernandez struck and killed Williford, he jumped out of the truck and ran to a nearby store.

Hernandez was on parole at the time of his arrest. Court records show that he has numerous charges out of Bexar County including theft, assault causing bodily injury and possession.

Hernandez is in the Travis County Jail with a $1.2 million bond. He has six charges against him including murder.

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