A Salt Lake man accused of fleeing from police and killing an innocent bystander in the process was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on manslaughter charges in 3rd District Court.
Witnesses testified Tuesday that Sosaia V. Langi, 18, was fleeing from police at speeds as fast as 100 mph when he drove through a red light and collided with a car driven by James H. Pratt, of Salt Lake City. Pratt was killed in the accident.Salt Lake Police officer David Madsen observed Langi's vehicle near 200 East 1300 South on May 17. He tried to pull over the vehicle, which contained five people, because it had an expired registration, court documents state.
The vehicle pulled over to the curb briefly, but then took off at a high speed, police said. The black compact car ran several red lights at speeds averaging 70 mph in residential areas where the speed is 25 mph.
With police following behind, the fleeing car sped through the intersection of 2100 South and 1100 East and collided with Pratt's northbound vehicle, according to court documents.
Madsen testified Tuesday that moments before the crash, Langi put his arm through the sunroof of the vehicle and made an obscene gesture at the officer as he chased him near Sunnyside Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
Salt Lake County deputy attorney Barbara Byrne said that while the driver was "flipping the bird," the officer observed the distinctive clothing on his arm and determined Langi was the driver. The other passengers in the front seat were all wearing dark clothing and not dressed as Langi was, she said.
Third Circuit Judge Maurice Jones said he heard reasonable grounds to believe Langi was responsible for the death and ordered him bound over to district court. He will be arraigned before 3rd District Judge Leslie Lewis on July 12. He is charged with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and failure to respond to an officer's command, a third-degree felony.
Following Pratt's death, the Salt Lake Police Department limited its policy regarding pursuits. Officers no longer chase after vehicles unless the use of deadly force is justified. Chief Mike Chabries said his office is studying the issue and receiving public input before it makes a permanent department policy.