Investigation: Hollywood cops engaged in ‘unauthorized’ police chase of last year’s ‘Wheels Up, Guns Down’ riders

(WSVN) - The MLK holiday is approaching. Over the last few years, it’s when illegal dirt bikes and all terrain vehicles swarm South Florida streets, and as police departments prepare for this year’s chaos, the actions of some officers last year have landed them in trouble. Brian Entin has that in 7 Investigates.

We have seen them from the air and the ground, but this view is especially disturbing.

Dirt bikes, scooters and ATVs in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with police on their tails.

A helmet cam shows riders running red lights, weaving through traffic, even driving on the wrong side of the road!

But the irresponsible, lawless riders were not the ones who got in trouble.

Instead, it was Hollywood Police officers.

Andrew Scott, law enforcement expert: “Ironically enough, who gets sanctioned? The protectors of the public versus the wanton idiots driving their motorcycles.”

7News has learned videos posted on social media from last January’s ride landed a Hollywood Police lieutenant, two sergeants and a detective in hot water.

An internal affairs investigation says officers were only supposed to escort riders out of the city, but instead, chased them in a “reckless and hazardous” manner.

We showed the videos to retired South Florida police chief Andrew Scott.

Brian Entin: “Are the police chasing them? Is that clear?”

Andrew Scott: “Yes, it’s evident the police were engaged in a pursuit of these individuals.”

One of the videos starts with riders running a red light.

Less than a minute later, sirens and Hollywood Police approach.

A few riders pull off the road and onto the grass.

A scooter tries to go around the other way and hits a police SUV.

On Hollywood Boulevard, the chase continues with a police car cutting in front of riders to try and block their path, but bikers avoid the roadblock and head into oncoming traffic!

After a U-turn, they turn into a neighborhood.

A cop car — lights on — still in pursuit.

Andrew Scott: “Look at it. They’re traveling down a residential area, probably doing about 50 miles an hour.”

The ATV speeds past a parent and child sitting in a toy car.

Attempting to get back onto a major road, the rider cuts through a gas station, nearly hitting a man on the sidewalk.

Watch again as he moves out of the way.

Andrew Scott: “It’s a formula for disaster.”

At one point, riders are seen circling a police car before taking off again.

Here, an unmarked SUV even chases a scooter into someone’s front yard.

Scott says the riders are clearly reckless, but officers must show more restraint.

Andrew Scott: “Engaging in the pursuit, over a traffic infraction or even a misdemeanor, presents a greater danger to the general public than letting that person go.”

The Hollywood Police policy says pursuits are allowed when there’s a “forcible felony,” like an armed robbery, carjacking or shooting.

Scott says it is clear the officers should not have been chasing, but the public should understand the riders put police in a tough spot.

Andrew Scott: “They expect the police to act. The police themselves are frustrated because they want to enforce the law.”

The Hollywood lieutenant, two sergeants and a detective were all disciplined. Hollywood Police say their policy for this year’s “Wheels Up, Guns Down” ride has not changed. Chasing will not be allowed.

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