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Former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader dies in police chase crash

Law enforcement agencies have grown increasingly concerned about public safety during police pursuits. Many police departments restrict how high-speed chases are handled and order officers to abandon them when danger to motorists and pedestrians seems likely.

The decision for Kansas law enforcers can be a tough one, since a suspect may be a hazard on the road even without a pursuit. Fleeing drivers are often frightened, reckless and under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The first concern the suspect has is self-preservation, not the safety of others around him.

A Shawnee man is behind bars after allegedly causing a fatal car accident during a Prairie Village police chase. Investigators said the suspect sped through the city to avoid arrest and crashed into four cars at an intersection.

The driver of one of the vehicles, a suburban Kansas City business owner, was killed while her car was stopped at a red light. The crash became a hit-and-run as the suspect drove off. The police pursuit continued until the 31-year-old man was caught and arrested.

Authorities charged the driver with DUI and involuntary manslaughter. A $200,000 bond was ordered. The victim's spouse said his wife owned a Blue Springs dance studio, the culmination of years of competitive dance training. She once had been a member of the Kansas City Chiefs' cheerleading squad.

Do law enforcement agencies share responsibility when an innocent person is injured or dies in the course of an officer's duty? Government agencies and their employees may be held liable for harm, the same as any individual or business.

In the past, governments were protected from liability claims by sovereign immunity; no one could sue them. The Kansas Tort Claims Act permits lawsuits against local and state governments, but restricts the damages allowed. A personal injury attorney can explain how to proceed to recover compensation through a government liability settlement or trial.

Source: kansascity.com, "Prairie Village crash victim leaves a dance legacy" Glenn E. Rice and Kevin Collison, Oct. 12, 2013

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