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ARTICLE ID 29098

$________ - WRONGFUL DEATH - JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY - GOVERNMENTAL LIABILITY - IMPROPER POLICE PROCEDURES - WOMAN KILLED WHEN POLICE VEHICLE REAR-ENDS CHASE VEHICLE CAUSING IT TO COLLIDE INTO DECEDENT'S CAR, KILLING HER.

Cook County, Illinois

The 51-year-old decedent was returning from work when her vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant Gomez as he was being chased by the Chicago police for running a red light.

Plaintiff contended that the city violated its police pursuit policies and procedures. Defendants deny that they were chasing the vehicle when it impacted with the decedent’s car.

On July 18, ________, in the city of Chicago at approximately 10:10 p.m., two patrol officers began a police pursuit of the vehicle driven by the defendant Gomez when he ran the red light at the intersection of 26th Street and Trumball. The officers attempted to pull him over at the intersection of 26th Street and Central Park. The defendant Gomez fled in his Chevrolet Caprice motor vehicle. The chase continued to the intersection of 31st Street and Lawndale Avenue where the defendant Gomez’s vehicle struck a truck. At that point in time, according to police procedure the chase should have terminated. The defendant backed up his vehicle and took off again. The police officers continued the pursuit.

The defendant’s vehicle crossed the center line of the roadway and collided into the decedent’s vehicle, killing her.

Police procedure required that the pursuit terminate at the point where the Gomez vehicle struck the truck. Testimony produced at trial demonstrated that it did not and that the pursuit continued in direct violation of police procedures and protocol. There was even evidence from witnesses presented at the time of trial that the police vehicle rammed into the rear of the Gomez vehicle causing it to lose control and veer across the center line and strike the vehicle driven by the decedent. The decedent died immediately upon impact so there is no claim for pain and suffering.

The plaintiff brought suit for wrongful death against the City of Chicago, the individual police officers and the driver of the fleeing vehicle. Plaintiff alleged the defendants were negligent p 7 3 and wanton in their pursuit of the fleeing vehicle and they directly violated police policies, practices and procedures regarding the pursuit of a fleeing suspect. Plaintiff also alleged that the driver, Gomez, of the fleeing vehicle was wanton and negligent in his operation of the vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that the City and the defendant Gomez were jointly and severally liable for the decedent’s death.

The defendants deny that the pursuit was continued after the Gomez vehicle struck the truck. They likewise denied that police policies and procedures were violated. Defendant City contended that the Defendant Gomez was under the influence of a high concentration of drugs in his system at the time of this incident. They attempted to demonstrate that the suspect was the principal cause of the crash. The defendant Gomez was not represented by counsel at the trial. He was in jail for reckless homicide and ordered to testify in court at the time of trial.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and assessed liability at 25% for the defendant City of Chicago and 75% for the defendant Gomez. Under Illinois law, the City of Chicago is responsible for paying the entire verdict.

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