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Lightfoot says death of 10-year-old girl in Gresham wasn’t caused by police chase

“There was a very brief — very brief — pursuit by the police that was terminated,” Lightfoot said on Thursday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Sun-Times files

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday pushed back hard when asked whether a crash that killed a 10-year-old girl and critically injured her 5-year-old brother was the latest example of a police chase gone bad.

Darnesha Johnson said her daughter, Da’Karia Spicer, and son, Dhaamir, were on their way to get a laptop for the girl when the crash happened Wednesday afternoon in the South Side Gresham neighborhood.

Police reported the crash happened after officers tried to stop a black sedan for a traffic violation near 80th and Halsted streets. The car took off west and struck two vehicles, including a tan sedan carrying the two children that was pulled over on westbound 80th. Three people then ran from the black car, police said.

“What I was pushing back on is saying this young girl … was killed as a result of a police pursuit. I don’t believe the facts bear that out. … There was a very brief — very brief — pursuit by the police that was terminated,” Lightfoot said.

“The investigation is ongoing. So, I don’t want to get ahead of the facts. But conflating that very brief pursuit that was ended, as I understand it, very quickly and what happened subsequently to the police — I don’t think that’s accurate.”

Lightfoot said the police department’s policy governing vehicle pursuits was “recently changed at my instigation.” Training on that new policy is “ongoing,” she said.

“I wanted to make sure that we had a best-in-class pursuit policy that officers understood and abided by,” Lightfoot said. “And, should there be any violation of that policy, we will absolutely hold people accountable.”

On Wednesday, a grief-stricken Johnson remembered her daughter.

“She was just so lovable, anybody she’d meet or got to know her loved her,” Johnson told reporters. “And they just took my baby away from me like that.”

She didn’t respond to requests for comment on Thursday.