Police dashcam shows stop prior to deadly crash

The Oak Park Police Department has released dashcam video from officers’ vehicles the night of March 9, when Chicago resident Kendall R. Harrison allegedly evaded police and crashed into another car, causing the deaths of two Austin residents.

Dashcam videos released to Wednesday Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request shows the initial police stop, around 10:30 p.m. on March 9, near the intersection of South Boulevard and South Humphrey Avenue.

An Oak Park police officer pulls over Kendall Harrison in his white Volkswagen Toureg, then gets out of the squad car and approaches the driver’s side of Harrison’s vehicle before it takes off at a high rate of speed westbound on South Boulevard.

A second dashcam video shows another officer driving northbound on Ridgeland Avenue and then eastbound on South Boulevard as Harrison’s Toureg speeds by. Just seconds later, Harrison’s car collides with the vehicle driven by Joy Tyus, an Austin resident.

Tyus, 28, and her passenger, Pierre Shelton, 30, were both killed as a result of the crash.

The video is important in the case because Shelton’s family has filed a lawsuit to determine whether Oak Park police chased Harrison the night of the incident. Harrison fled on foot after the crash but was apprehended by police shortly afterward.

A police report released in late March stated Harrison was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamines the night of the crash. Two pills of MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy) were also found in Harrison’s vehicle at the scene of the crash.

He was charged with one count of reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated driving under the influence. Harrison, who remains held at Cook County Jail, is due to appear in court on April 8.

Oak Park police said in a press release immediately following the incident that officers did not chase Harrison the night of the crash. Police Chief LaDon Reynolds did not respond to requests for an interview following the release of the dashcam videos to Wednesday Journal.

Tim Cavanagh, lead attorney with Cavanagh Law Group, who is representing Shelton’s family, said in March that the lawsuit was exploratory in part to determine whether the police violated their own policy on car chases.

Cavanagh said in a telephone interview on April 5 that his office is in receipt of the police videos from the night of the incident.

“We are going through them and continuing our investigation,” he said.

tim@oakpark.com

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