Driver of taxi destroyed in crash during pursuit: 'How am I expected to provide for my family?'

MILWAUKEE -- A driver and passenger were taken to the hospital after police said a Ford Escape they were in crashed following a police pursuit on Saturday, May 11. The crash happened near 45th and Center, after police said officers spotted the vehicle traveling recklessly near Appleton and Lancaster.  Stop sticks were deployed at 45th and Center, where the Escape rear-ended a taxi and struck a pole -- the impact causing the vehicle to roll over. The taxi struck two other occupied vehicles as a result of the crash.

FOX6 News on Sunday spoke with the driver of the taxi, who said he's lucky he survived, but dismayed that his vehicle -- his livelihood -- was destroyed as a result of the pursuit.

Looking back at pictures captured on their cellphones, the Wilder family on Sunday, May 12 could hardly believe no one was killed. Dontrail Wilder said he was behind the wheel of his 2017 Chevy Impala -- on the way to pick up his daughter.

Lakesha and Dontrail Wilder

"Oh my God! That was it. I was rear-ended. I flew into on-coming traffic and almost died," said Wilder. "Out of nowhere, I see the cop on the side of the street."

Near 45th and Center, Wilder said he watched as Milwaukee police threw stop sticks on the road to end the pursuit.

"Deploy spike strips?" said Wilder.

"Those two corner stores where all the kids get their candy from," said Lakesha Wilder, Dontrail's wife.

"Coming from the school! It's a school right there," said Dontrail Wilder.

"It's a blessing from God that that car didn't flip and land on someone's child," said Lakesha Wilder.

Lakesha Wilder rushed to the scene -- fearing her husband died in the wreck.

"He's a hardworking man and that shouldn't have happened like that," said Lakesha Wilder.

The Chevy Impala is used for their taxi business. While they have insurance, the taxi was totaled.

"I need to ask the Milwaukee Police Department: How am I expected to provide for my family now?" said Dontrail Walker.

They said they'd also like MPD to re-evaluate police pursuits. Last month, there were three pursuits that resulted in fatalities over less than 10 days (April 11-April 20) -- stemming from reckless driving, shooting and drugs, respectively.

The pursuit policy was reinstated in fall 2017. The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission on Sept. 7, 2017 approved the proposed revised pursuit policy that allows Milwaukee police officers to pursue vehicles involved in reckless driving and suspected mobile drug trafficking. Four years prior, then-MPD Chief Ed Flynn changed the pursuit policy after several innocent bystanders were killed.

Officers once restricted to only chasing vehicles suspected of being involved in violent crime, now have discretion to follow drug dealers, reckless drivers and more.

Prior to it being reinstated, there were more than 600 vehicles fleeing from officers every month during traffic stops.

In 2018, the Milwaukee Police Department averaged 18 police chases every week, a big increase from 2017.

"At a certain point, they have to stop. It's just not worth it," said Lakesha Wilder.

Both suspects in the pursuit that ended near 45th and Center were taken into custody following treatment of minor injuries.