PHOTOS: Crash scene
Officer David Harris had just completed his shift and was heading home. Calumet Park police followed a white van on to the Dan Ryan Expressway early Friday morning after trying to pull over the vehicle. That van exited the Dan Ryan and struck a black Lexus near 87th and South Lafayette Avenue on Chicago's South Side around 1 a.m.
"David was one of Chicago's finest. He had a heart of gold. He was a humble man, and he was a man of God and a family man," said Jeanette Little-Davis, officer's cousin.
Harris, 42, was killed this morning near 87th and Lafayette when a white van slammed into his Lexus sedan. Harris, a 10-year veteran of the police force, had just gotten off work. He was still dressed in his Chicago police uniform.
The family of Chicago Police Officer David Harris tells Eyewitness News he was very loved, loyal and a good man. Harris was married with two elementary school age sons and was a decorated officer, having earned 87 department awards.
"I broke down. I felt so bad about his two young boys and his wife. It's so bad that a good man like that is lost," neighbor Ronald Rockwell said. "He was a credit to the force, he was a true blue night, and the way this happened is shameful."
Dozens of Chicago police cars escorted the ambulance that carried the officer's body to the Cook County morgue. He is survived by a wife and two children, officials said.
Two people -- a man and woman -- who were inside the van were taken into custody, officials said. Witnesses say the woman was driving.
"She was being chased, and as she drove, she drove against the shoulder of the road, and the van scratched against the shoulder of the road as the state police troopers were chasing her," Leah Gomillia, witness, said.
"A young lady driving crazy-like and it was just too scary because we were on the road right with her. That could have been us," Florence Johnson said.
Calumet Park police have not said what led to the police pursuit and denied requests for comment. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the van was stolen and carrying narcotics.
The Chicago Police Department's Major Accidents Investigations Unit is investigating. The 87th Street exit ramp off the outbound Dan Ryan was closed for about five hours.
Calumet Park police are not returning our many phone calls and won't answer any questions as to why they decided to chase the van, and whether or not Chicago police were notified when the pursuit entered their jurisdiction. Many people that know Harris want answers.
"If they were actually chasing somebody from Calumet Park, why would they chase him all the way into Chicago to 87th Street? And now this beautiful person, this beautiful spirit has been taken away from us," said Rockwell.
"Last night's traffic crash, which killed a Chicago Police Officer, is a terrible tragedy," said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. "He dedicated his life to protecting our residents and communities, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. We ask everyone to respect the privacy of the officer's family and friends in this difficult time."