Montgomery Co. officer won’t be charged in pursuit that ended in deadly crash

A Montgomery County, Maryland, police officer will not face charges after a car chase in February that ended in a deadly crash.

The decision comes from the Howard County State Attorney’s Office after review of a report on the pursuit conducted by the Independent Investigations Division at the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

In the early morning on Feb. 26, the officer reported seeing a Honda driven by Noraly Paz Chavez, 26, of Riverdale, Maryland, weaving and speeding down Rockville Pike in the North Bethesda area.

The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke to Paz Chavez. But after telling her where to pull over, investigators, who examined both the officer’s body camera and dashcam video, said Paz Chavez drove off.

According to the report, the officer began chasing the vehicle, telling dispatchers that he believed the driver may be under the influence. According to Montgomery County police, pursuing a driver who is believed to be under the influence is permitted in its pursuit policies.

Investigators said Paz Chavez could be seen crossing lane divider lines and running red lights, while driving away from the officer. Dashcam footage showed the Honda going as fast as 88 miles per hour once it reached the area of Connecticut Avenue and Randolph Road in Wheaton.

The car then left the road, striking a curb, hitting a speed limit sign, and then a guide wire for a utility pole. Investigators said hitting the wire caused the car to spin, and Paz Chavez and the man riding with her to be ejected from the car.

Paz Chavez was pronounced dead at the scene; the passenger suffered minor injuries. He told police they had been drinking at a bar in the Rockville area before the traffic stop.

According to the report, the passenger told police that “Janae,” the name he called the woman he was with in the car, was worried about being drunk and thought her tags were bad or expired.

Post-mortem toxicology testing done on Paz Chavez found her blood-alcohol level was almost double the legal limit, according to the report.

A gun stolen from Arlington, Virginia, was also found in a grassy area near the crash scene. The passenger denied to investigators that he knew anything about the weapon.

The Attorney General’s Office forwarded the completed report from its investigation to the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office, which decides on charges against the police officer. The state attorney’s office notified the Attorney General’s Office of its decision to not prosecute the officer on Oct. 6.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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