The motorist accused of hitting and severely injuring three small siblings on a north Minneapolis playground while fleeing state troopers Monday has not had a valid driver’s license for nearly four years.
Kabaar W. Powell remained jailed Tuesday in anticipation of criminal charges for driving into the children while they were with their father and other siblings near Jenny Lind Elementary School.
Powell, 27, of Richfield, had his license revoked, and it has not been valid since August 2014, said state Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville. Powell’s criminal history includes a 2015 conviction for driving after losing his license. He has other traffic convictions dating to 2010 for twice not having the proper license for the type of vehicle he was operating, for speeding and for driving without insurance.
Some of the offenses occurred since he last lost his license, including in March 2016, when he was stopped in Ramsey County for going 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. That case is pending.
Powell’s driving record shows that his difficulty keeping a valid license stems not from any serious driving behavior but from not paying fines or making court appearances in connection with relatively minor traffic and parking offenses.
Kayden Peltier, 2, and Lillianna Peltier, 4, were the most severely injured Monday. Both have life-threatening injuries, the patrol said. Konnor Peltier, 3, was less seriously hurt. North Memorial Medical Center has said it will not be releasing updates on the conditions of the children, whose family moved to north Minneapolis in March.
Devin Brinkley, an aunt to the children who lives in California, said earlier this week that Kayden was in critical condition heading into surgery Monday night, while Lillianna was stable but had bleeding on the brain. Konnor’s condition also had stabilized, she said.
Two troopers pursuing Powell were slightly hurt while apprehending him. Both officers, along with a trooper in training who also was in a squad car, were placed on paid administrative leave, “which is standard practice in significant incidents such as this,” Neville said Tuesday.
The troopers were identified as Jacob Anderson, Albert Kuehne and trainee Michael Cariveau.
Brinkley said by phone Tuesday that the three children injured and their four siblings were with their father at the playground when the SUV crashed. Kyle Peltier had the family’s baby with him. Brinkley said her sister and the children’s mother, Nicolle Peltier, was at a class taking a test at the time.
“The only reason the other ones didn’t get hit is they were on the jungle gym,” Brinkley said.
The children who were hit by the SUV were playing basketball, according to a filing Tuesday by prosecutors, who requested and won an extension until noon Wednesday for filing charges. The extension was sought to give prosecutors more time to review the medical records of the children before deciding what counts to file. If Powell is not charged by noon, he would be released.
Brinkley said the children’s maternal grandparents flew to the Twin Cities Monday night and were taken to the hospital by law enforcement.
“I’m all the way here in California,” Brinkley said. “I’m trying to get time off ... but I have two children myself.”
According to the patrol, Powell was speeding in an SUV on southbound Interstate 94, drawing the attention of one state trooper and later, another. Powell exited the freeway and kept fleeing until he veered onto the playground near Dupont and 50th Avenues and into a swing set.
He tried to get away on foot but was quickly apprehended. The patrol said a gun was found in the SUV.
According to emergency dispatch audio, the same vehicle was pursued by law enforcement Friday, but that chase was stopped before officers caught up with the driver.
The patrol said the SUV was not stolen. The owner lives in Brooklyn Center, about 2½ miles from the crash scene. She couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
Authorities have released few other details about the chase. It’s unclear how fast the troopers or the SUV were going on the interstate or in the neighborhood. Because the incident is still under investigation, the patrol also has not said whether troopers followed the department’s pursuit policy.
That policy lists numerous circumstances that require a pursuit to be discontinued, including “when there is a clear and unreasonable danger to the trooper, fleeing motorist or other persons.”
A trooper also should “give stronger and continuing consideration to cutting off a pursuit when the suspect is wanted for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony or when the suspect can be positively identified.”
A Brooklyn Center police official ordered its officers not to join the chase Monday when it entered their city.
The pursuit began because of a traffic offense, which doesn’t meet the department’s threshold to pursue, said Rick Gabler, commander of investigations.
“Had it been for something a little more severe, we might have,” he said. “The biggest thing we look at when initiating a pursuit is what is the alleged offense. And in Brooklyn Center, traffic alone wouldn’t cut it.”
In Brooklyn Center, violent crimes, such as homicide, robbery or a violent assault with a weapon, would justify a pursuit, Gabler said. Officers also consider other factors, including traffic, pedestrians, weather, road conditions and the speed of the pursuit.
“You balance the risk of the pursuit vs. letting the person get away,” Gabler said. “What’s the danger to the public in chasing this person? … Eighty miles an hour on the highway is different than 80 miles an hour in a residential neighborhood.”
Staff Writers John Reinan and Libor Jany contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org 612-673-4482 email@example.com 612-673-4788