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35-mile chase ends in shooting

July 16, 2009 4:39:47 AM PDT
A man was shot, and two Chicago police officers were injured Tuesday night after a police chase that ended in Elgin. Police say they were conducting a drug investigation on the city's Northwest Side and were about to make an arrest when the suspect took off on a chase that lasted over 20 minutes.

The Independent Police Review Authority has been called in to investigate whether Chicago Police followed their own procedures in chasing the drug suspect at high speed up the Kennedy Expressway and onto the westbound Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.

They eventually cornered a silver luxury SUV in the I-Pass lanes at Route 31.

When they tried to arrest the driver, police say he used his car to hit the officers and then tried to escape. He was then shot in the chest.

Chicago Police, Illinois State Police and other jurisdictions joined the chase of this SUV.

The chase started at 8:57 pm at Belmont and Central. Twenty-eight minutes and 35 miles later, the suspect was shot.

Witnesses told of a fleet of police cars moving at high speed.

"Cause they passed and we were like, where are they going up this way? When they came off of 294 to 90 we wondered where they were going, so we got to the toll plaza and we're like, 'hey what is going on over here?'" witness Emma Coleman said.

Since 2003, Chicago Police general orders have directed officers to not give vehicular chase unless they think a crime has, or is about to, take place. It can be a felony or a misdemeanor.

Police will only say the operator of this vehicle was observed engaging in illegal narcotics activity, and in general, "Officers are not prohibited from initiating or engaging in vehicle pursuits in all circumstances. Incidents are considered on a case-by-case basis," Chicago Police Department Spokesman Roderick Drew said

Chicago's Police pursuit policy was revised after the 2003 death of pedestrian Gian Chang, a brilliant financial analyst who was pregnant. She was thrown 40 feet when alleged pickpockets -- being pursued through the loop by Chicago Police -- lost control of their car and hit her. The Chicago policy was infused with the principle of balance, that officers must look at both the seriousness of the crime and the danger pursuit poses to the public.

Elgin fire officials said the man police shot was in guarded condition at an area hospital. The two officers were treated for non-life-threatening leg injuries and released from Sherman Hospital in Elgin. The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating.

"Independent police review authority investigators are going through all the details related to this scene," Mark Payne, of the Independent Police Review Authority, said

Researchers at criminology centers such as Loyola University say a non-pursuit policy will not necessarily lead to criminals always getting away, and the idea that only the guilty feel the need to run from police is a myth. Typically, those that run are smaller-time criminals who make bad decisions on the spot.


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