Family sues Oak Park police over car crash

Lawsuit claims police chased motorist who killed their son

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The family of Austin resident Pierre Shelton has filed a lawsuit against the Oak Park Police Department, claiming that a police chase of a motorist on March 9 resulted in a car crash that killed Shelton and his girlfriend, Joy Tyus.

Tyus, 28, died as a result of her injuries the night of the crash, which took place at about 10:30 p.m. at the intersection of South Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue, and Shelton, 30, was critically injured.

Shelton subsequently died as a result of his injuries on March 17 at Loyola University Medical Center, where he'd been hospitalized since the crash.

Police had pulled over Chicago resident Kendall R. Harrison near the intersection, but Harrison reportedly fled in his vehicle and then crashing into the vehicle driven by Tyus.

Oak Park police expressly noted in a press release following the crash that the officer did not chase Harrison's vehicle that night.

The lawsuit is exploratory in its claim that the Oak Park Police Department chased Harrison, according to Tim Cavanagh of Cavanagh Law Group, who is representing the family.

He said in a telephone interview that the lawsuit must make allegations in order to get access to evidence such as surveillance video recorded the night of the incident.

Cavanagh filed an emergency motion to get the evidence. Police have 14 days to comply.

"If the police truly did nothing wrong, I'm sure they'll get us that stuff right away," he said.

In an email, village of Oak Park spokesman David Powers said that the "village stands by the original statement of March 10 – Oak Park police did not initiate a chase."

Cavanagh said police pursuits are inherently dangerous and put innocent bystanders' lives in danger.

"The city [of Chicago] has changed their policies because they are so dangerous and so many innocent people have been injured and maimed that police pursuits should not be undertaken for minor traffic offenses and the like," he said.

Harrison was charged with one count of reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated driving under the influence.

As of press time, the Oak Park police have 12 days to release the dashcam video surveillance video.

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