Family of Graciela Olivas hires lawyer to investigate death - KCTV5

Family of Graciela Olivas hires lawyer to investigate death

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KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

The family of Graciela Olivas, the mother of KCTV5's Sandra Olivas, who was killed in a police chase, said they are hiring a law firm to investigate her death.

It's not just the police department's chase policy they're questioning, but now a General Motors recall is also part of the case.

This comes after 7-year-old Jasmine Rodriguez, of Kansas City, KS, was killed Wednesday night. Both were innocent victims, killed while police were pursuing other people. Their deaths happened within two months of each other.

Graciela Olivas was driving home when she was killed in a terrible crash on Feb. 17. The driver of the car who crashed into her was being pursued by members of the Kansas City, KS, Police Department.

"The family's concern is the reason for the chase to begin with, was a traffic offense, that the offender didn't use his blinker properly, and then they hear about the tragedy involving the young girl from a couple of days ago, and they hear the reason the offender was pulled over was for a seatbelt violation," said Scott Nutter, one of the Olivas family attorneys.

Nutter said the Olivas family was shaken to learn about Jasmine. He said the family believes the KCK police chase policy should be much more restrictive.

"Initiating a chase that results in someone's death over a traffic violation just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense," said Lynn Johnson, another Olivas family attorney.

But Johnson said their investigation won't stop with the police chase as they're also taking aim at General Motors.

Olivas was driving a Chevy Cobalt. Her family discovered shortly after her death that the car is the subject of a massive recall because of an ignition switch defect that's being blamed for causing crashes that have led to several deaths. They say in the case of their mother, her airbags did not deploy in the crash.

"The ignition switch has a defect that allows or causes the car to suddenly stop, which then disengages the airbags, that's why they originally came to see us," Johnson said.

In their written statement, the Olivas family spoke about the types of offenses the two suspects were being pulled over for and asked that the KCK Police Department permanently change its policies on police chases immediately.

The full Olivas family release says:

"The family of Graciela Olivas has hired Lynn Johnson and Scott Nutter of the law firm of Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman to investigate the circumstances of their mother's death during a KCK police chase on Feb. 17, 2014. In light of the tragic death of Jasmine Rodriquez, the family would like to make the following statement:

"We are heartbroken for the family of Jasmine Rodriguez, another life lost to a KCK police chase. First it was our beloved mother, Graciela Olivas. Now less than two months later, a 7-year-old little girl. In both cases, KCK police were chasing a traffic offender. With our mother, the offender did not use his turn signal properly. With young Jasmine, the offender was pulled over for a seat belt violation. In both cases, innocent lives were needlessly endangered and taken from us too soon.

"We call on the city of KCK and the police department to immediately effect permanent changes to its policies on police chases and to retrain its officers on police chase protocol.

"This cannot happen again.

"The family of Graciela Olivas."

After Jasmine was killed during the latest police pursuit, KCK police announced they have temporarily restricted their pursuit policy and are reviewing if it should be permanently changed.

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