Police officers often carry a heavy burden. They are charged with apprehending dangerous criminals while also protecting the public. Which duty is the most important, and when does one duty supersede the other? For one Illinois family mourning the death of a teenager, the answers to these questions are painfully clear.
Earlier this year, police officers initiated the high-speed pursuit of a couple who had allegedly stolen a case of beer from a store. Unfortunately, the target of this chase struck a car during the pursuit, killing a 13-year-old girl and permanently disabling the girl's grandmother. A relative of the two victims has filed a wrongful death lawsuit involving five police officers who participated in the chase.
Some important points about the incident:
-- The chase occurred at 4:30 p.m. on a weekday.
-- The car chase took place through the "crowded city streets" of both Hammond and East Chicago.
-- A recording of police radio communications during the pursuit indicates that police officers contemplated terminating the chase, but then chose to continue.
-- No disciplinary action has yet been taken against the involved officers.
The lawsuit alleges that all five police officers knew that engaging in a high-speed chase at that time on a weekday exposed motorists to "an unreasonable risk of harm." Other language in the lawsuit called the officers "negligent and reckless" while displaying "utter disregard for public safety."
Most people would agree that cities like Chicago desperately need police officers. However, when they choose to put their duty to make an arrest above their duty to protect the innocent, it results in dangerous situations like the accident highlighted in this post.
No one should escape justice for contributing to a wrongful death. A personal injury attorney can help victims and survivors of negligence make sure the responsible parties pay for their actions.
Source: NWI.com, "Lawsuit: East Chicago, Hammond officers 'reckless' in fatal police pursuit," Lauren Cross, May 25, 2017