A surveillance video in Chicago has revealed a horrifying crash between two police cars which sent them slamming into a third vehicle and killed an 84-year-old woman.
The alarming footage shows the two police cars smashing together as they raced into each other’s paths at an intersection.
One of them, a white van, had crossed a red light and went spiraling across the road while the other car was sent flying into a family Toyota.
Retired teacher Verona Gunn was killed in the crash and three others were injured in the family car, while 10 police officers were also hurt.
The victim’s son Dwight wrote in a letter that Verona Gunn was ‘the matriarch’ of the family who worked for 30 years as a teacher.
Two other adults in the car and a nine-year-old were also injured, the letter said.
The clearest footage was obtained by the Associated Press and taken from a nearby liquor store’s surveillance camera.
Another view from a nearby gas station shows both vehicles advancing at speed before colliding at the intersection while a third view is seen through the windscreen of a nearby car.
The Gunn family lawyer, Andrew M. Stroth, has accused the police vehicles of violating rules which require them to slow down as they approach intersections.
‘This was a response to standard call for service and it was not a police pursuit,’ the family attorney said.
‘It did not necessitate officers drive in a reckless manner. As a result, the matriarch of the family was killed.’
Dispatchers had said there were reports of someone with a gun nearby, which, according to Stroth, is not an extraordinary report for Chicago.
The family car, a Toyota sedan, had stopped as around 10 police vehicles passed through the same intersection before the crash, Stroth said. The car was still idling when the collision occurred.
Stroth filed a wrongful lawsuit in Cook County court Monday, naming the city of Chicago and the two officers driving the vehicles that night. They are only referred to as John Doe 1 and 2.
Chicago’s law department said it had not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.
Days before the May 25 crash, new Mayor Lori Lightfoot had announced a stepped-up police presence and an increase in youth programs for the Memorial Day weekend in a bid to stave off violent crimes.
Stroth said the stepped up presence could have played an indirect role in the accident.
‘Part of the reaction by police that weekend was based on the surge of officers in these areas,’ he said. ‘It resulted in a complete overreaction by officers responding to calls.’
The accident occurred on a Saturday night in Chicago’s Austin on the West Side, which Stroth describes as a densely populated neighborhood that should have led officers to be especially cautious.
Dwight Gunn also thanked Chicago authorities for calling the family to express their condolences and to assure them there will be ‘a full and swift’ investigation.
On Monday night, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department expressed its ‘deepest condolences’ to the Gunn family but couldn’t comment on the specifics of the crash.
‘Both the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Chicago Police department are independently investigating’ the crash, Gugleilmi said.