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Traffic stop gone bad ends with driver, pedestrian dead

Police Commissioner-Derenda.JPG
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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What began as a routine traffic stop in Buffalo Thursday evening has left two persons dead. Buffalo police say a Housing Unit patrol stopped a vehicle on Fillmore near Best for a minor traffic violation around 6:45 p.m.  Officers who approached the car determined that the driver, a 48-year-old man, had been drinking.  

One officer reached into the vehicle to turn off the ignition and put the transmission into park, at which point the driver stepped on the accelerator and sped off north on Fillmore, dragging one officer for a short distance. One gunshot fired by one of the officers during the incident.

As the officers returned to their cruiser to give chase, the man crashed into a parked car and three light standards. One of those poles struck and killed a 54-year-old women who had been standing outside a nearby supermarket. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police are not releasing the names of the victim and suspect at this time. The officer who was dragged is said to be okay.

An investigation by homicide detectives, Internal Affairs and the Erie County District Attorney's Office is underway.

"This investigation is very preliminary," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda Friday morning. 

There were earlier reports that the crash happened in a chase with police, but Derenda said that was not the case. 

"It appears that there was no chase.  He took off at a high rate of speed. By the time the officers even got back at the car, we have witnesses saying that they seen the car flying at a high rate of speed and did not see a police car behind it," said Dereneda.