A 10-Year-Old Girl Was Killed in Collision With Vehicle Fleeing Police. Her Family Now Wants to Use Deposition of Ex-Mayor Lightfoot at Trial

Police vehicle file photo. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)Police vehicle file photo. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Attorneys for the family of a 10-year-old girl killed in a 2020 traffic crash are seeking to make public their deposition of former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who a day after the collision said she didn’t believe a police vehicle pursuit had led to the girl’s death.

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City attorneys have filed a motion seeking to prevent the former mayor’s deposition from being used in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Da’Karia Spicer. Spicer was killed in September 2020 after a vehicle that had been pursued by Chicago police ran a stop sign and slammed into her family’s sedan.

A day after Spicer’s death, Lightfoot spoke at a press conference where she pushed back on the notion that the police pursuit caused the fatal collision.

“What we’ve learned in the course of the litigation is that it was absolutely the pursuit which led to the death of Da’Karia Spicer,” attorney Lance Northcutt of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., said following Wednesday's hearing. “It was absolutely an utter lack of accountability that followed, and worse.”

A Cook County judge did not rule on the city’s request during a hearing Wednesday and a spokesperson for the city’s Law Department declined to comment on active litigation. The city’s motion is a routine request, particularly in cases dealing with minors.

According to the lawsuit, Spicer was riding in a vehicle with her father and 5-year-old brother on Sept. 2, 2020, near 80th and Halsted streets. The family’s attorneys said they were on their way to the girl’s school to pick up a device for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In that same area, a pair of Chicago police officers attempted to pull over a Mercedes-Benz after they observed the vehicle using an alley as a thru street. Instead, the Mercedes attempted to flee toward the 8000 block of South Halsted Street, the complaint states.

The officers initiated a pursuit and followed the Mercedes into the intersection of 80th and Halsted, where both vehicles ran a stop sign, according to the complaint. There the Mercedes struck a second vehicle, both of which then collided with the Spicers’ Honda.

The Spicers’ attorneys said bodycam video recorded during the pursuit shows one officer predicting a crash, and that when that collision then happened seconds later, the officer driving the police SUV yelled out “boom.”

Da’Karia was killed in the crash, and both her father and brother suffered serious injuries.

Da’Karia Spicer (Photo provided)Da’Karia Spicer (Photo provided)

The Spicer family claims the officers improperly engaged in a vehicle pursuit.

The CPD changed its policy for vehicle pursuits in August 2020. That updated policy required officers to “consider the need for immediate apprehension of an eluding suspect and the requirement to protect the public from the danger created by eluding offenders” and ensures that no officer could be disciplined for terminating a pursuit.

A day after the crash, Lightfoot said she wanted to “push back” on the notion that Da’Karia was killed as a result of the police pursuit, adding that “should there be any violation of [the CPD] pursuit policy, we will absolutely hold people accountable.”

“There was a very brief — very brief — pursuit by the police that was terminated,” she said during a Sept. 3, 2020, press conference. “That car continued on and then hit two other vehicles. … Now the investigation is ongoing, so I don’t want to get ahead of the facts, but conflating that very brief pursuit that was ended, as I understand it, very quickly, and then what happened subsequently to the police, I don’t think that that’s accurate.”

Northcutt called Lightfoot’s remarks “incredibly reckless and shockingly insensitive to a family who had not even had the chance to bury their 10-year-old daughter.” He said his office recently deposed Lightfoot, but would not comment what the former mayor said during that process.

“Accountability for Da’Karia Spicer is going to come inside a Cook County courtroom,” he said. “It’s only going to come in front of a jury.”

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