Crime & Courts

Family of woman killed during police chase files suit against Belmont

The Civitas Institute is suing the city of Belmont, saying it has refused to release the results of an investigation into the city’s police department after a 2012 chase that left two people dead.

The complaint was filed in Gaston County court on Friday on behalf of Dan Deitz and Ellen Deitz, whose sister, Donna, was killed by a driver fleeing Belmont police in February 2012, according to the institute, a nonprofit conservative think tank based in Raleigh.

Messages left at Belmont City Hall late Wednesday weren’t returned.

Lester Saunders Norman hit Donna Deitz and Kevin Loftin at about 80 miles per hour as he fled from a police checkpoint at Interstate 85 and Exit 26. Norman, who was on federal probation and didn’t have a driver’s license, later said he led police on the chase because he didn’t want to go back to prison.

Norman was sentenced to 25 years in state prison for the two deaths.

Belmont police changed their chase policy as a result of the deaths, and the city launched an investigation into the department.

Earlier this year, the Deitzes filed a public records request with the city asking to see the results of the investigation, hoping it would shed light on the death of their sister, according to the Civitas Institute’s lawsuit.

The city denied the request, saying N.C. statutes prevent Belmont from releasing information about personnel records, which are contained in the investigation.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: 704-358-5046, @CleveWootson