State troopers pursued a speeder off an interstate into a north Minneapolis neighborhood for several minutes Monday, chasing him through nearly two dozen stop signs before the full-size SUV veered onto a playground and hit three children.
Details of the pursuit, which took place primarily on residential streets and at high speeds, were spelled out in charges filed Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court against the unlicensed motorist and prompted County Attorney Mike Freeman to question the wisdom of the chase.
“Residential streets just aren’t made for people driving 80 mph,” he said. While “it’s always easy for those of us to second guess,” he added, law enforcement policies on pursuits “should discourage that kind of conduct except in the most extreme cases in residential neighborhoods. People’s lives, like these kids’ lives, are a lot more important than catching this guy, in my view.”
Kabaar W. Powell, 27, of Richfield, was charged with felony fleeing police resulting in great bodily harm, and gross-misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation and carrying a gun in public without a permit in the crash near Jenny Lind Elementary School. He remains jailed and is scheduled back in court Thursday.
Kayden Peltier, 2, and Lillianna Peltier, 4, were severely injured, while Konnor Peltier, 3, was less seriously hurt. North Memorial Medical Center has said that it will not release information about their conditions.
Freeman said Wednesday that Powell was driving the same Ford Expedition on Friday when the patrol pursued him for speeding on I-94 in Minneapolis. The trooper ended the chase after losing sight of the SUV after it ran several stop signs.
Both pursuits began in the 9 a.m. hour and in similar locations of the freeway.
Monday’s chase began when troopers spotted Powell speeding, the patrol has said. It lasted roughly 6 minutes with two patrol squads and the SUV topping 80 miles per hour, according to the criminal complaint against Powell.
It continued until Powell entered Bohanon Park and hit the children. The complaint makes no mention of the troopers breaking off their pursuit, which saw Powell run 22 stop signs. Troopers were close enough to the SUV to see it crash into the children.
The patrol has repeatedly declined to address many of the chase details, citing the ongoing investigation. The agency’s policy calls for a pursuit to be discontinued “when there is a clear and unreasonable danger to the trooper, fleeing motorist or other persons.”
It also says 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, can be positively identified and when circumstances of the offense can be sufficiently documented to secure an arrest warrant.
State Patrol Sgt. Jeremy Solie’s account in the complaint provided some insight on the chase:
Powell was spotted by a trooper speeding above the 60 mph limit on I-94 near 46th Avenue. He fled after the squad car emergency lights were activated, “and a high-speed pursuit began.” Powell then ran one stop sign after another as two patrol vehicles gave chase.
The SUV drove across a wide swath of grass at the park, near tennis and basketball courts. That’s where 30-year-old Kyle Peltier was playing with four of his seven children. Powell ran “completely over” Kayden and “partially over” Lillianna, the charges said.
Patrol dashcam video showed the father “attempting to gather [Kayden and Lillianna] and his other children, one of whom is in a stroller, to flee the basketball court before [the SUV] hits them,” but the children were struck within seconds.
Kayden was the most severely injured. He had his spleen removed and suffered serious blood loss, fractures to his neck and pelvis, and bleeding in his skull. Lillianna had bleeding on the brain and many bruises and scrapes.
The SUV’s brake lights were not activated, and Powell failed to slow before hitting the children, the complaint said. He tried to run but was quickly captured. A loaded handgun and drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle.
Diana Peltier, a grandmother to the children, said Solie’s account tells her the troopers “should have stopped the pursuit.” At the same time, she added, “I’m not mad at the patrol. They were just doing their jobs.”
Two of the troopers pursuing Powell were slightly hurt while apprehending him. Troopers Jacob Anderson, Albert Kuehne and trainee Michael Cariveau, were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
Powell’s driving history
Powell had his license revoked, and it has not been valid since August 2014, according to the state Department of Public Safety. His criminal record includes a 2015 conviction for driving after losing his license. He has other 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 offenses occurred since he last lost his license, including in 2016, when he was stopped in Ramsey County for going 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. That case is pending.
His difficulty keeping a valid license stems from failing to pay fines or make court appearances for relatively minor traffic and parking offenses.
The consequences of Monday’s pursuit might signal the need for the patrol to review its policies and how they are followed, Freeman said. He said Minneapolis and other departments have changed their pursuit policies to restrict high-speed chases through residential neighborhoods. In Minneapolis, the number of injuries from chases dropped after those changes, he said.
“The real issue here is how far do hot-pursuit cases go in residential areas?” Freeman said. “It’s a horrible tragedy. … The idea of some car coming and mowing down your kids is something that’s hard to comprehend.”
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