CHICAGO (AP) — A woman whose 13-month-old son was struck and killed as he sat in his stroller at a bus stop during a high-speed police chase this month in Chicago is suing the city, saying officers ignored orders by their superiors to stop the pursuit.
“My son was innocent and he should not have died,” Shatrell McComb said during a Thursday morning news conference about the lawsuit in which several unidentified Chicago police officers are defendants, as is the city of Chicago. The lawsuit also names Antoine Watkins, the man officers were chasing and who is charged with first-degree murder in young Dillan Harris’ death.
McComb’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci, said Dillan’s death was “the direct result of a chase that should not have happened,” saying that he had “direct evidence” that the officers were told to stop sometime during the 3 1/2 mile, 20-minute chase on the South Side, not far from the University of Chicago campus. He declined to say what that evidence was.
Romanucci has requested, but not received, audio recordings of communications between the officers and their superiors or dashcam footage, and also said he has filed legal documents demanding that the city preserve the recording and footage. The Associated Press has also made a formal request for the audio recording and the dashcam footage.
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A police spokesman declined comment because litigation is pending.
Authorities have said police were pursuing Watkins in the early afternoon of July 11 after 22-year-old Marvin Carr, a rapper who also went by Capo, was shot and killed. An off-duty Chicago Aviation Department officer heard gunfire and notified police that a man, later identified as Watkins, climbed into a red Toyota.
Several minutes later, prosecutors say, Watkins lost control of the vehicle, which jumped a sidewalk, then struck and dragged the stroller at a bus stop, where McComb and Dillan were waiting for a bus to go to the beach.
Romanucci said that one of the factors that should have prompted the officers to stop the chase was that they had a detailed description of both the vehicle and the license plate number — information that allows police to “apprehend the suspect at a later time.”
He also said that officers should have slowed down because they were in a crowded residential neighborhood on a busy Saturday afternoon.
“At a certain point you actually have to let them go … because somebody will die,” he said.
Romanucci wondered whether the officers would have stopped pursuing the vehicle as he said they were ordered to do had they been in one of Chicago’s affluent neighborhoods and not on the predominantly black South Side.
“I’m asking the Chicago Police Department would they have continued this same chase if the incident had occurred” in those neighborhoods, he asked. “The trust has to be the same in the neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago and the North Side and we don’t see that being applied equally here.”
This story has been corrected to show the first name of the child’s mother is spelled Shatrell, not Shatrelle.