Charges filed in deadly van crash

November 5, 2009 (CHICAGO) Police say Darrell Whitlock was behind the wheel of a minivan that rammed a car after trying to run over police officers.

Officers say they were watching Whitlock and another man they believed were delivering drugs near 63rd and St. Lawrence earlier this week.

Police say they tried to stop the men, but the suspects rammed a police car. Officers fired at least one shot and the suspects then fled, slamming into 42-year-old Valerie Davis' vehicle. She was killed in the crash.

Police say just after 7 a.m. Tuesday, a drug enforcement stop took place near 63rd Street and Martin Luther King Drive.

"The subject started ramming the police vehicles, first to the rear and then to the front, and then also struck a civilian vehicle," said Deputy Chief Nick Roti, Chicago police. "During this action, the subjects also brushed and struck a police officer with the side of the car, at which point a shot was fired by the police at the subject's vehicle at the subject to try to stop his actions."

A team of Chicago police narcotics officers was out with federal drug agents, observing two men who officers say were out for their morning heroin distribution route. The two men apparently figured out they were under surveillance.

Police say the suspects' vehicle struck both unmarked squad cars involved in the stop, ran a red light, crashed into Davis' Pontiac, then struck another vehicle driven by a man who was uninjured. Davis was taken to Christ Hospital and pronounced dead at 7:50 a.m.

Police say after a short foot chase, two suspects were apprehended. Police say the vehicle was not being pursued at the time of the crash.

One person was also taken to St. Bernard Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. An officer was struck by the fleeing minivan.

"I s[aw] a gun drawn. So I freak out," said witness Robert Meyers. "So I'm trying to get out of harm's way. The guy in the van backs up. I back up. And when he comes around me, he hits me and pushes me to the side. He's going around me, and the police start chasing him. That's when I heard the crash."

Police believe the two suspects were likely mid-level drug dealers who were distributing packets of heroin for individual resale at several points across the South Side.

"They should not have had that much of a chase," said Charlene Davis, victim's aunt.

Valerie Davis' day started like most others. She was on her way to work but only made it a few blocks from home. As Valerie Davis' relatives gathered to grieve Tuesday afternoon, they wondered whether the crash could have been avoided.

"If he's doing wrong, he['s] going to do wrong again, so you have an opportunity to catch him," said Charlene Davis. "But now my niece don't have no more opportunities. Hers is all over with."

Police insist they were not chasing the two men. Narcotics officers say they watched as the men in the minivan drove across the South Side, dropping off wholesale supplies of heroin to dealers at several locations.

Police insist they didn't even have time to give chase before the suspects' van slammed into Valerie Davis' vehicle two blocks away. Meyers' car was also swiped in the crash.

"I never want to be in that situation again," he said. "I'm still shaking from it."

"This girl is gone," said Calene Smith , victim's aunt. "I don't know what we're going to do."

Valerie Davis leaves behind a teenage son, along with a large and loving family.

"I want everybody to know she was a good person and was just passing out candy for Halloween for the kids," Smith said.

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