COPA releases videos of crash that killed woman, off-duty CPD officer

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has released video footage of a crash that killed a woman and an off-duty Chicago Police officer following a police pursuit in June.

On-duty officers in an unmarked police vehicle shortly before 1 a.m. on June 27 saw 32-year-old Officer Taylor Clark driving his personal SUV near Roosevelt and Independence, authorities said at the time. Clark had finished his shift about 10 minutes earlier and was driving to his girlfriend’s home.

The SUV matched the description of a vehicle used in an earlier carjacking. After a short pursuit, the on-duty officers turned off their vehicle’s lights and left “a great distance” between their vehicle and Clark’s SUV, police said.

Police later said Clark’s vehicle was not the same vehicle used in the carjacking.

Clark drove his SUV through the intersection of Roosevelt and Kostner at “a high rate of speed” and collided with a car driven by 27-year-old Chequita Adams, authorities said. Adams was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital at 1:27 a.m., while Clark died at Stroger Hospital at 2:55 a.m.

The newly-released footage shows Clark’s SUV headed westbound on Roosevelt, while Adams’ car travels north on Kostner. The SUV can be seen running a red light, striking the passenger side of the car and sending both vehicles into a light pole on the northwest corner of the intersection, near a gas station. A police vehicle with its lights flashing can be seen pursuing Clark’s SUV.

The Independent Police Review Authority was initially scheduled to release a case report, 911 call audio recordings, dispatch audio recordings and videos by Aug. 25, or within 60 days of the crash, in accordance with the City of Chicago Video Release Policy.

However, in an Aug. 24 letter to the city’s Corporation Counsel, IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley asked for a 30-day extension to release the videos, claiming that releasing them on Aug. 25 would “(1) interfere with active administrative enforcement proceedings; (2) obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation; and (3) create a substantial likelihood that a person will be deprived of a fair trial or an impartial hearing.”

The case report and 911 audio records were posted to COPA’s website on Aug. 25.

In a letter dated Aug. 25, Chicago Corporation Counsel Edward N. Siskel granted the request for an extension, moving the deadline to release the videos to Sept. 25. Both letters were released in the case file on COPA’s website.

Adams’ family filed a federal lawsuit days after the crash, naming the City of Chicago, Clark’s estate and the unknown driver of the pursuing police vehicle as defandants, the Sun-Times reported at the time. The suit charges Clark with civil battery for “driving at reckless speeds though a residential neighborhood,” and claims the city should have disciplined the pursuing officer.