Chicago Police

Calls for Chicago Police to Enact Safe Driving Procedures After Woman's Death

Bishop Dwight Gunn lost his mother in a police-involved accident in May 2019 and wants to make sure other families don't feel the same pain

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Following the death of a Chicago mother who was killed in a crash with a Chicago police SUV, a pastor who lost a loved one in a similar incident has demanded action, saying the mother's death was "another completely avoidable loss of life."

The June 3 crash on Chicago’s North Side that killed 37-year-old Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez happened as police chased a shooting suspect who prosecutors say hit speeds of 100 mph. Video shows the police car striking Francisco-Martinez’s SUV with such force that both vehicles appear to explode. 

Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez died June 3 when a Chicago Police Department vehicle involved in a pursuit crashed into her SUV in the city's Lakeview neighborhood.

On Sunday, Bishop Dwight Gunn, whose mother, Verna Gunn, died from a police-involved accident in May 2019, sent a letter to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, asking the department to enact "Verona E. Gunn Safe Driving Protocols."

The protocols would include mandatory enhanced training, annual safe driving certification, daily role call reminder of vehicle protocols and officer accountability, according to the letter.

While enroute to an officer assist call on Chicago's West Side on May 25, 2019, two police vehicles speeding to the officer’s aid collided at an intersection, one catapulting the other onto a sedan taking 84-year-old Gunn home after a family cookout. She died hours later on an operating table.

Gunn’s daughter, a family friend in the passenger seat and the friend’s 9-year-old grandchild next to Gunn in the back were injured, as were 10 officers. All were treated and released. 

Audio obtained exclusively by The Associated Press of police radio transmissions before Gunn was fatally injured reveals that a dispatcher told responding officers over and over to reduce their speed because the suspect had been disarmed.

“Slow down,” she says firmly. She repeats that order at least five more times over two minutes. 

Police are more likely to speed through minority neighborhoods, said Pastor Gunn. He said he sees police racing past his church all day in the predominately black Austin neighborhood, where his mother raised her three kids and where the accident took her life.

Gunn told NBC 5 he relieved the pain of his mother's crash when he saw Franco-Martinez's family grieving after their loss.

"Another family to bury a mother...senseless...senseless," he said. "Unreasonable policing in the neighborhood."

In his letter to Mayor Lightfoot, Gunn sent a message to Franco-Martinez's family, saying "we share in your pain and pray for your peace as you journey through life without the physical presence of your love one."

"We also pray that the trauma of police sirens and reckless police vehicle operations would not plague your family as it does ours," the letter continued.

NBC 5 reached out to Mayor Lightfoot's office for a comment on the letter, but hadn't received a response as of Monday night.

AP/NBC Chicago
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