Lightfoot to change police pursuit policy after fatal crash

“I’ve been very concerned about police pursuits since I became mayor,” Lightfoot said. “The frequency of them, that they cause death, they cause injury, property damage, the whole works.”

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The partial wreckage of a crash that left one person dead and five more injured June 3, 2020, near Irving Park Road and Ashland Avenue.

A woman was killed Wednesday when her SUV was struck by a Chicago police car involved in a pursuit.

Andy Boyle/Sun-Times

Before a crash involving police killed a woman in Lake View on Wednesday night, Chicago Police radio traffic indicates the officers had been told to stop pursuing a fleeing suspect.

Officers were told at least four times to terminate the pursuit, according to the radio traffic. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown declined to discuss any specifics of the pursuit during a news conference Thursday.

In light of that crash, Lightfoot said more changes will soon come to CPD’s policy on pursuits.

“I’ve been very concerned about police pursuits since I became mayor,” Lightfoot said. “The frequency of them, that they cause death, they cause injury, property damage, the whole works.”

Though the CPD’s policy on pursuits was updated just 14 months ago, Lightfoot said she ordered another evaluation of the policy last year after she took office.

“We will be making an announcement shortly about what the new policy is and what the training plan is,” the mayor said. “Police pursuits are, obviously, one of the most deadly and dangerous exercises that police officers are engaged in and we want to make sure that, if that is necessary, it’s done in very limited circumstances, under full direction of a supervisor, and done only with marked vehicles with lights and sirens so that when they’re racing through the streets, people know that there’s an emergency that’s happening.”

The pursuit Wednesday night spanned well over 30 miles and began on the Far South Side.

The chase began about 8:15 p.m. near 115th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue when officers noticed a vehicle possibly wanted for several crimes in nearby suburbs. Illinois State Police said the Jeep was wanted in connection with at least one homicide.

The Jeep eventually led officers to the Northwest Side where, according to police radio traffic, the pursuit was ordered terminated. The Jeep later crashed near Irving Park Road and Keystone Avenue. The driver ran to a nearby gas station and stole an idling Nissan SUV, according to police. He then took off east on Irving Park Road.

While chasing the Nissan with their sirens activated, a marked squad car slammed into a Ford Explorer traveling north on Ashland Avenue, police said. The driver, a 37-year-old woman, was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she died.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified her as Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez. A GoFundMe page set up in her name said she had six children. “She was such a strong, amazing and funny mother, friend and sister to everyone,” wrote the fundraiser’s organizer, who did not respond to an interview request.

The driver of the stolen Nissan SUV then led police to Bridgeport on the South Side, where he crashed into a pole in the 900 block of West Pershing Road, police said. He tried to run from the scene but was taken into custody nearby. He was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in serious condition.

Sustained high-speed pursuits by Chicago police are relatively rare, though they can prove costly for the city.

Chequita Adams was killed in a West Side crash in 2017 related to a police pursuit. Her family sued and was eventually awarded a nearly $5 million settlement.

Two years earlier, police were pursuing a vehicle fleeing a shooting on the South Side when the driver of the fleeing vehicle jumped a curb and ran over 13-month-old Dillan Harris, killing him. The boy’s family filed a lawsuit against the city, involved officers and the driver, Antoine Watkins. The suit is still pending.

The CPD’s directive on pursuits states officers and their supervisors must perform a “balancing test” when deciding to pursue a fleeing vehicle that’s wanted in connection with a serious crime, such as a shooting.

“All [police department] members involved in or supervising a motor vehicle pursuit must be prepared to justify their actions,” the directive states.

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