Driver allegedly lit crack pipe during fatal police chase in East Palo Alto 

click to enlarge Eric Anthony Banford allegedly fired up a crack pipe while fleeing from cops in East Palo Alto. (AP file photo) - ERIC ANTHONY BANFORD ALLEGEDLY FIRED UP A CRACK PIPE WHILE FLEEING FROM COPS IN EAST PALO ALTO. (AP FILE PHOTO)
  • Eric Anthony Banford allegedly fired up a crack pipe while fleeing from cops in East Palo Alto. (AP file photo)
  • Eric Anthony Banford allegedly fired up a crack pipe while fleeing from cops in East Palo Alto. (AP file photo)

New details about an East Palo Alto man’s fatal car chase with cops last week revealed the suspect allegedly lit up a crack pipe at high speeds and ignored his passengers’ pleas to stop the vehicle.

Eric Anthony Banford, 46, is facing a murder charge after 50-year-old motorcyclist Danny Dixon, also of East Palo Alto, was killed Wednesday.

Police tried to question Banford at 5:15 a.m. about a burglary. Instead, he fled in his friend’s Land Rover, leading police on a chase that ended at University Avenue and Bay Road, where Dixon’s motorcycle was struck, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Despite the two passengers yelling for him to stop, Banford continued driving, with the lights off, on residential streets at speeds up to 70 mph, blowing through stop signs and red lights, Wagstaffe said.

During the chase, Banford fired up a crack pipe, Wagstaffe said. Traveling in the wrong lane, Banford swerved to avoid an oncoming truck and hit Dixon, the district attorney said.

Banford was arraigned Friday on several charges, including murder, Wagstaffe said. He is due back in court Oct. 11.

Banford has prior convictions for robbery in 1987 and voluntary manslaughter in a 1991 case in which he fatally punched someone in the head during a drug robbery, according to Wagstaffe.

At the time of the crash, Banford was out of custody on a pending cocaine possession case, Wagstaffe said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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