$4.9 million settlement tied to high-speed police pursuit that led to deaths of 27-year-old woman, off-duty cop
The latest in a seemingly endless parade of settlements tied to alleged police misconduct will go to the family of Chequita Adams. She died in the June 2017 crash, along with off-duty Chicago Police Officer Taylor Clark.
Chicago taxpayers will spend $4.9 million to compensate the family of a 27-year-old woman killed in a high-speed chase in June 2017 that also left an off-duty Chicago Police officer dead.
The latest in a seemingly endless parade of settlements tied to alleged police misconduct will go to the family of Chequita Adams. She died in the West Side crash, along with off-duty Chicago Police Officer Taylor Clark.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has recommended that Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson fire Chicago Police Officer Jamie Jawor for not using the lights and sirens on her police vehicle as she and her partner were pursuing Clark on the West Side.
Clark, who had recently finished his shift in the Ogden District on the West Side, was driving on Roosevelt Road near Kostner Avenue on June 27, 2017 when he ran through a red light about 1 a.m. and slammed into a vehicle driven by Adams. Both Clark and Adams were killed.
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 police oversight 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 do just that, Johnson will now file charges against Jawor.
Earlier this year, COPA’s Chief Administrator, Sydney Roberts, defended her agency’s recommendation in an interview with the Sun-Times.
“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 on that day.
The COPA chief argued then that Jawor 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.
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.
Shortly after the crash, the Adams family filed a federal lawsuit naming the city, Clark’s estate, and the driver of the pursuing police vehicle.
The suit claimed CPD “does not adequately train its officers to determine how and when they may use force and/or engage in or disengage from pursuits; appropriately supervise officers to identify dangerous tactics or behaviors that may indicate an officer needs additional training or other intervention . . . or punish officers who use unconstitutional and excessive force or wrongful pursuit tactics against citizens causing great harm or death.”
It also alleged that the pursuing officer had “no probable cause to believe the occupant of Clark’s vehicle had committed a crime,” but still engaged in a “reckless pursuit” and “never disengaged” until the crash.
It claimed the pursuit was carried out “in the face of imminent danger and in gross disregard and indifference for the safety of others.”
The suit accused Clark of civil battery for “driving at reckless speeds though a residential neighborhood.”
Jim Montgomery Jr., an attorney representing the Adams family, could not be reached for comment. Montgomery’s father served as former Mayor Harold Washington’s corporation counsel.
The $4.9 million settlement is on the agenda for Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting. Aldermen will also be asked to sign off on two lesser settlements — for $200,000 and $295,000. Details of those cases were not immediately known.