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Chicago cop involved in pursuit that killed 2-year-old girl now faces dismissal

In Thursday’s ruling, a member of the Chicago Police Board overruled Supt. David Brown’s recommendation for a lighter punishment for the officer involved in the fatal crash in 2019.

A Chicago police badge hangs in front of the City of Chicago Public Safety Headquarters.
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 01: A Chicago police badge hangs in front of the City of Chicago Public Safety Headquarters on December 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Following public outcry over the way police handled the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced he had fired Chicago Police Superintendant Garry McCarthy. McCarthy, Emanuel and Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez have been accused of trying to cover up the shooting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 594422627
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A Chicago cop who was involved in a pursuit that killed a 2-year-old girl now faces dismissal over two years later after a member of the Chicago Police Board overruled Supt. David Brown’s recommendation for a lighter punishment Thursday.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended Officer Michael Mancha’s firing for his role in the chase in March 2019 that led to the fatal crash in Roseland. Young Danyla Owens was killed when she was thrown from the car that Mancha was pursuing in an unmarked police SUV.

But Brown disagreed with the recommendation and instead proposed a six-month suspension, leaving a single member of the police oversight panel to settle the dispute. In a three page ruling, Jorge Montes ruled that Brown didn’t overcome the burden for overruling COPA’s disciplinary recommendation and set in motion the disciplinary proceedings that will determine Mancha’s fate on the police force.

Mancha and his partner were on patrol when they attempted to pull over a Chrysler driven by Danyla’s father, Donell Owens, for a traffic violation. Owens briefly pulled over but then sped off, leading Mancha on a pursuit that ended at the intersection of 107th Street and Calumet Avenue, where the Chrysler struck another vehicle, according Police Board records.

In addition to Danyla, passengers in both vehicles were also injured, the records show. He was taken into custody and later convicted of reckless homicide and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Cook County court records.

In another contested disciplinary case, another Police Board member sided with Brown’s recommendation to suspend a sergeant for six months for his role in an illegal search.

As with Mancha, COPA had recommended Sgt. Juan Perez’s dismissal for seizing two guns from a car that was searched without the owners’ consent in October 2019 and misusing his body-worn camera.

While executing a search warrant at a home in the 3200 block of West Lexington Street, Perez’s team had already found large quantities of methamphetamine and ecstasy, according to Nanette Doorley’s ruling. A suspect was arrested and charged.

While Doorley wrote that Perez “committed serious misconduct that warrants severe disciplinary action,” she found that he was acting “at his superior’s command.” But she said that doesn’t “absolve” Perez of wrongdoing, noting that he also deactivated his body-worn camera multiple times throughout the search.

Ultimately, she credited Perez’s record and said the superintendent’s recommended suspension was “both severe and appropriate.”