Violent history made fatal Kingman pursuit unavoidable
Dodd's recent behavior, criminal record put law enforcement in must-chase position
Editor's note: This is the fifth and final article in a series regarding an April 22 law enforcement pursuit that ended in the tragic death of Linda Chevalier. Robert James Dodd has been charged in her death. The Arizona Department of Public Safety recently concluded an in-depth investigation of the incident. In this installment, readers will learn of the dynamics that were in play that day and why the decision to maintain the chase was made.
KINGMAN - The law enforcement officers who pursued Robert James Dodd last April 22 never broke off the chase, which ended after a few miles when Dodd allegedly ran a stop sign and crashed into Linda Chevalier, who died from her injuries.
The tragic and bitter irony of Chevalier's death is that officers were committed to capturing Dodd before he hurt someone. It was that worry - and Dodd certainly gave them something to worry about - that warranted the pursuit continuing.
According to a comprehensive incident report compiled by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Dodd's recent behavior and his criminal history made him a key target for law enforcement.
He was wanted for violating his parole shortly after he was released from an Arizona prison in 2013 after serving several years.
He allegedly got away from officers in a handful of pursuits in the weeks preceding the fatal accident. He was boasting about shooting people. In another incident, he allegedly pointed a shotgun at a man's head and threatened to kill him if he stopped for the pursuing law enforcement officers. In yet another incident, Dodd crashed into a Kingman Police officer's patrol vehicle to get away.
Dodd allegedly stole cars and threatened to kill officers or, in the alternative, commit suicide by cop.
All of these red flags changed the rules. Had Dodd ran from police after shoplifting at Walmart, for instance, the chase would have been discontinued when he entered the densely populated neighborhood.
But Dodd isn't a shoplifter. He is allegedly a violent man whom police believed to be armed and dangerous - a man acting like he had nothing to lose - and police took notice. The DPS, the sheriff's office and the Kingman Police Department formed a joint task force in an attempt to apprehend Dodd.
On the day of the fatal crash, Dodd was wanted for more than as a parole absconder. It was what he was allegedly doing while absconding that most had their attention.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Dodd was involved in kidnappings, attempted murder, and aggravated assault.
He told several acquaintances he would not be taken alive.
The pursuit involved law enforcement officers from three agencies, but they weren't all chasing Dodd that day.
DPS Sgt. Ernie Severson, a key member of the multi-agency gang and immigration task force that includes officers from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and Kingman Police Department, was giving orders over the radio when he found himself behind Dodd at Cactus Wren and Stockton Hill Road, headed south toward Northern Avenue.
Most of the officers were sent to key intersections in northern Kingman, particularly in the Butler area, where they could lay down spike strips or otherwise intercept Dodd and his passenger, Brigitte Bartlett, should they head their way.
Severson requested a DPS helicopter to monitor Dodd's movements, but dispatchers were unable to contact the crew. Given the short duration of the chase - it lasted mere minutes - it is unlikely a helicopter could have flown to the Butler area in time to help officers.
Dodd's own alleged actions that day also played a role in police maintaining the pursuit. He essentially drove into oncoming traffic from the time Severson fell in behind him on southbound Stockton Hill Road near Bull Mountain Road to Northern Avenue, where Dodd turned left and continued speeding into traffic. Dodd entered the Butler area and moments later he allegedly ran a stop sign at Packard Avenue and Bond Street. Again, he was on the wrong side of the road, driving an estimated 60 mph in a 25 mph zone.
He never hit the brakes, according to the DPS.