Three days after a fatal police chase on Chicago’s west side, NBC5 Investigates has obtained exclusive video that raises new questions about the Chicago Police Department’s account of the pursuit that led up to the deadly crash.
The chase began just after 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday, when the pursuing officers – a gang team out of Area Central -- say they spotted a black Jeep that matched the description of a vehicle that had previously been used in a carjacking. Actually, it was a nearly identical Jeep, driven by another Chicago police officer who’d just left work.
Police say that when the officers tried to stop the Jeep at the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Independence Boulevard, the driver fled – with the officers in pursuit – racing west down Roosevelt Road for twelve blocks, at the rate of about a block every second. At the intersection of Roosevelt and Kostner, the off-duty officer crashed into another car, killing both himself and the driver of the other car, 27-year-old Chequita Adams.
NBC5 Investigates filed an open-records request with the Chicago Department of Transportation, which keeps red-light- and speed-camera video files. In response, CDOT released several video files which show the chase in progress, as well as two video files from a red-light camera at Roosevelt and Kostner, which show both the violent crash and its aftermath.
In a press conference held the day of the crash, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that it appeared – at that point – that the pursuing officers had followed CPD protocol for police pursuits. Johnson said that at some point the pursuing officers turned on their lights, “but they were deactivated prior to the crash.” He added that he did not think sirens were used.
But none of the videos obtained by NBC5 Investigates of the chase in progress shows clear evidence of police lights: Not the red-light camera video which caught both the fleeing car and the pursuing police car four blocks in to the chase at Roosevelt and Pulaski; and not the speed camera video located one block further along the route.
And at Roosevelt and Kostner – the intersection where the crash occurred – it is not clear, from the two angles of the red-light camera video there, whether the pursuing police car had its lights on when the crash happened. If the lights were on, that would contradict Supt. Johnson’s statement that the lights were deactivated prior to the crash. If the lights were off, that would raise questions about whether the police were following protocol in keeping up with the fleeing (and speeding) car.
What is clear, however, is that the pursuing police cruiser’s lights are off as the officers slow down, pull up to the scene, and park the car. Then, thirteen seconds after the deadly crash, the video clearly shows the officers turning on their lights.