CHICAGO, IL – (July 23, 2015) Attorneys for private citizen, Shatrell McComb, today announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against the City of Chicago, CPD Officers and Antoine Watkins whose willful and wanton conduct resulted in the wrongful death of 13-month-old Dillan Harris on Saturday, July 11, 2015. The claim also alleges negligence by Watkins, whose careless actions and improper handling of his motor vehicle lead to the striking and ultimate death of Harris in his stroller on a public sidewalk, and intentional infliction of emotional distress by the City of Chicago and its Officers who recklessly disregarded the high probability of their actions directly effecting the plaintiff and bystanders on the public sidewalks.
The complaint states that in the early afternoon of Saturday, July 11, 2015, plaintiff McComb was waiting for the bus with her 13-month-old son Dillan Harris and other family members near the residential intersection of South Ellis Avenue and East 63rd Street in Chicago, when defendant Antoine Watkins lost control of his vehicle, running several red lights traveling between 60-70 miles per hour, and struck Harris in his stroller, ultimately leading to the toddler’s death. During that time, Watkins was being pursued in a chase by CPD Officers through a residential community where the speed limit was 30 miles per hour, despite the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and/or Chicago Police Department supervisors allegedly instructing those Officers to stop the chase.
“The death of 13-month-old Dillan Harris is extremely tragic and one that unfortunately falls at the hands of not only the vehicle driver, Antoine Watkins, but the City of Chicago and its CPD Officers,” said McCombs’ attorney Antonio Romanucci, partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. “There is absolutely no reason why on a sunny summer afternoon a police chase should have been taking place for nearly 30-minutes in a residential neighborhood where pedestrians and bystanders were present. Their negligence and conduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
According to public records obtained by Romanucci & Blandin, police directives indicate that a chase is allowed when the necessity to immediately apprehend the fleeing suspect outweighs the level of inherent danger created by a motor vehicle pursuit. When applying the balancing test, police officers are instructed to evaluate the volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic to avoid creating unwarranted danger to themselves or others. Given the time and location of the chase, and the high volume of pedestrians on the street, CPD Officers should have terminated the police chase as it became increasingly reckless and dangerous and made alternative plans to apprehend the suspect when it was more safe to do so.
Plaintiff McComb seeks judgment against the City of Chicago, its Officers and Antoine Watkins, awarding compensatory damages and attorney’s fees. The lawsuit is civil action No: 2015L007478