Parents of Independence bicyclist killed during police chase sue city


Cheryl Cooper, mother of Christopher, speaks at the Kansas City Ride of Silence 2008.
According to a KCStar article:
A lawsuit naming Independence and the city’s Police Department has been filed in the November 2007 death of a teenager killed by a driver who was fleeing police.

Christopher Cooper, 17, a student at Truman High School, died after being struck by a car traveling about 90 mph near Noland Road and Osage Street in Independence. Cooper was on a bicycle.

Independence police were pursuing the car.

The lawsuit filed this week in Jackson County Circuit Court is twofold, said Sean Pickett, the Kansas City lawyer who is representing Cooper’s parents, John and Cheryl Cooper.

The lawsuit alleges that Independence and its Police Department are liable for not following the city's pursuit policy, Pickett said. The lawsuit also alleges that police and other emergency personnel failed to properly assess Cooper's injuries.
The Independence Examiner has more details.

Christopher's mother Cheryl has been active in working to stop senseless and dangerous police pursuits and working in other ways to make sense the tragedy that has befallen her family.

When Kansas City area bicyclist Toni Sena was killed during a police chase in 2003, a group of local citizens successfully worked with the KCMO police board to get the city's pursuit policy changed.

(Sena's husband also filed suit against the city.)

despite the new policy, advocates say that KCMO police still continue to pursue in too many situations where the situation leads to extreme danger to police, fleeing drivers, and innocent bystanders.

And most other police departments in the state and region have pursuit policies far more lax than KCMO.

Some sobering facts about police pursuits:

* Over 14,000 crashes a year are caused by police pursuits
* About 1/3 of pursuit injuries and fatalities are to innocent bystanders
* Many pursuits end in injuries or fatalities to police officers
* It is possible for police departments to adopt pursuit policies that
- still allow pursuit when actually necessary
- minimize deaths and injuries of innocent bystanders and police officers
- still allow apprehension of criminals (most often hot pursuit is not the best way)

More about the issue of police pursuits, and why police departments should adopt and strictly follow more stringent police pursuit policies, from a St. Louis County police officer.

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