Police board to decide fate of officer involved in chase that led to fatal West Side crash

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has recommended Officer Jamie Jawor be fired for not activating the lights and sirens on a police vehicle.

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The scene of the crash that killed off-duty Chicago police officer Taylor Clark and Chequita Adams in June 2017.

The scene of the crash that killed off-duty Chicago police officer Taylor Clark and Chequita Adams in June 2017.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

The Chicago Police Board will decide whether to punish an officer who was pursuing an off-duty colleague shortly before that officer was involved in a crash that left him and an innocent civilian dead.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability told CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson that he should recommend Officer Jamie Jawor be fired for not using the lights and sirens on her police vehicle as she and her partner were pursuing Officer Taylor Clark on the West Side in June 2017.

Clark, who had recently finished his shift in the Ogden District on the West Side, was driving on Roosevelt Road near Kostner Avenue when he ran through a red light and slammed into a vehicle driven by 27-year-old Chequita Adams. Both Clark and Adams were killed.

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Chequita Adams

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Jawor and her partner were pursuing Clark because his vehicle matched the description of one involved in an earlier carjacking, though the vehicles weren’t the same. The two officers erred by not activating their lights or sirens soon enough.

According to the agency, Johnson disagreed with COPA’s assertion that Jawor should be fired, which meant that a single member of the police board had to decide whether to send Jawor’s case to the full board. With the single board member opting to to do just that, Johnson will now file charges against Jawor.

Chicago police representatives did not comment on the disagreement between the superintendent and COPA.

It’s far from the first time that Johnson has disagreed with COPA, and his results have been mixed.

COPA’s Chief Administrator, Sydney Roberts, defended her agency’s recommendation Friday.

“We concluded that the manner in which she operated that motor vehicle was in the absence of due regard for the safety of others,” Roberts said.

The COPA chief argued that the officer had “several different options” that would have avoided the fatal accident.

“One thing for sure: She didn’t have to engage in speeds to the level that she did. Paramount is the speed in which she drove. [It] was too fast for those conditions with the facts that she knew at that time,” Roberts said.

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Officer Taylor Clark

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Roberts refused to say whether she viewed the chase as justified at all because her disagreement with Johnson has placed the case before the Police Board.

She also defended COPA’s decision to clear Chicago Police Officer Joseph Treacy and Sgt. Thomas Derouin of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of Joshua Beal on West 111th Street in Mount Greenwood in 2016.

The killing of an African American man in a majority white neighborhood that’s home to scores of police officers and firefighters drew protesters to this week’s Police Board meeting, even though the case was not before the board.

Roberts said she understands why COPA’s decision was controversial, but it was the right decision.

“The racial nature that precipitated this entire thing is a disgrace. It represents us as individuals in our worst light. But COPA’s job in this instance was to look at both officers’ use of force,” she said.

“His actions were consistent with department policy. He had a reasonable fear for his life and the life of others when that gun was pointed at them.”

Roberts said she was essentially forced to hold her nose and ignore the racially-charged prelude to the shooting and confine her decision to the actual shooting.

“What happened there — that never should have happened. It never should have gotten to that point. But, at the point that deadly force was used, it was appropriate under department policy. But it was a tragedy. It really was.”

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