A police chase in KCK ended in a horrific crash, killing a 7-year-old girl. The child has been identified as Jasmine Rodriguez, of Kansas City, KS.
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -
The Kansas City, KS, Police Department announced Thursday in a press conference that they will suspend pursuing anything that isn't a serious felony. This comes after, for a second time in about two months, an innocent person was killed during a police chase.
Chief Ellen Hanson made the announcement after a horrific crash the night before that ended up killing a 7-year-old girl. Hanson said the department will review its policies, but she defended her officers' work too.
The child has been identified as Jasmine Rodriguez, of Kansas City, KS.
Investigators say Tyrone Murphy Jr., 27, was trying to speed away from police when he slammed into a van with a mom and three children inside.
He has been booked into the Wyandotte County Jail awaiting numerous charges including involuntary manslaughter.
Police said even after the crash, Murphy tried to run away from authorities, but a nearby officer quickly caught him and took him into custody.
The Kansas Highway Patrol is handling the investigation.
According to troopers, a KCK police officer pulled over Murphy Wednesday night for not wearing his seat belt.
The officer got the man's driver's license, and as he was speaking to the driver further, he noticed something suspicious and the driver took off. Hanson would not say what the officer saw that they considered suspicious.
He ran a red light at 63rd Street and Leavenworth Road in KCK and broadsided a van carrying a mother and three children, police said.
The other children in the van were ages 9 and 7.
Authorities say all the children were buckled up properly, but unfortunately, Jasmine died from the sheer force of the crash.
Hanson said, for now, officers will only chase violent felons or for serious felonies when before officers could pursue a chase if they stopped someone for a traffic violation.
She added that deciding whether to let violators go is never easy.
"It's a very difficult situation, you have to consider the emotions, the practical parts, what goes into guiding officers that are out there in harm's way," Hanson said.
Police say the pursuit lasted 35 seconds and it took seven minutes for the officer to get approval to chase. Police said the officer didn't see the crash, but it only took seconds for the fleeing suspect to hit a family and kill an innocent girl.
"When suspects cause the death of innocent bystanders, no matter if it's from fleeing or from other situations, it's an issue for everyone to be concerned about. I can assure you that our actions are going to show we do care about the safety of our citizens and our officers," Hanson said.
Authorities say chases are always a hard call.
"We've had accidents here in recent history but the other side of that, we have to try to do our job. It's not always the easiest thing to do," trooper Howard Dickinson said.
This crash comes only two months after KCTV5 News looked into the police chase policy in KCK.
On Feb. 17, 62-year-old Graciela Olivas was hit and killed by a suspect who was being chased by KCK police after they spotted him in a known drug area. The driver sped away and ran a stop sign at 34th Street and Shawnee Drive, hitting her car. Click here to read more.
After that crash, KCTV5 obtained the department's chase policy to determine how they weigh the potential public safety risk.
According to the department, officers weigh the risks of the chase from start to finish.
First, officers work to identify the suspect of the chase. If they're not deemed an immediate threat to the public, officers let the suspect go until they have a safer chance to capture them.
In cases where the suspect is a danger, they can continue the chase.
The officer involved in the most recent pursuit is not on leave. He returned to work.
An organization that tracks pursuits nationwide, PursuitSafety, states that crashes can be reduced by 91.4 percent if police changed their policies to violent offenders only.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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