Dashcam video released Tuesday by the State Patrol shows an SUV fleeing through a north Minneapolis neighborhood and blowing through more than 20 stop signs before the driver crashed at a playground on June 11, injuring three children.
Troopers acted within existing policy when they pursued Kabaar Powell, for speeding and other offenses, Col. Matt Langer of the State Patrol said at a news conference about the 6-minute video.
“We commit to making the best decision possible with the balance to apprehend those who choose to flee with the risk of others,” Langer said. Noting that each pursuit is dynamic, complex and unpredictable, he said, “it’s up to the discretion of the troopers to make those decisions.”
Troopers had tried to stop Powell, 27, for speeding and not wearing a seat belt as he drove on Interstate 94. But Powell, driving a Ford Expedition, exited onto 49th Avenue and sped through the neighborhood at up to 80 mph. He turned into the park near Jenny Lind Elementary School, where he struck the children near the swing set.
Two of the children, Kayden Peltier and his sister Lillianna, who were 2 and 4 at the time of the crash, were severely hurt. The third child, Konnor, who was 3, suffered noncritical injuries.
The video shows Powell running from the scene and troopers tackling him on a front lawn of a nearby residence.
According to statistics distributed at Tuesday’s news conference, pursuits are becoming more common in Minnesota. There were 687 pursuits involving law enforcement agencies statewide in 2010. By 2017, that had jumped to 1,867 pursuits.
Langer said the patrol continues to evaluate its policy and learn from past events while exploring new technology and research. It also offers troopers additional training on decisionmaking and driving skills.
A board that reviews each State Patrol chase found the troopers’ pursuit of Powell was within guidelines.
Langer said Powell’s turn into the park was surprising and “unprecedented,” but troopers won’t call off a pursuit just because it’s in a residential area.
“If we say no pursuits through neighborhoods they will know that is their ticket out of accountability,” Langer said.
The video, which does not show the moment Powell hit the children, was released because the opportunity for him to appeal his sentence has passed.
Powell was charged with two counts of fleeing an officer and causing great and substantial bodily harm, two counts of criminal vehicular operation, and one count of possessing a pistol without a permit. He pleaded guilty to two charges and was sentenced in August to 33 months in prison.
Troopers who were on duty in June are back on the job, Langer said.
“They care deeply about what happened,” Langer said. “This pursuit would not have happened if Powell had stopped. Each pursuit is avoidable if drivers stop. Our focus is on our job of stopping motorists … and that can’t change.”