December 05, 2018 07:54 AM
Moments after a high-speed chase ended on a Minneapolis playground last summer, seriously injuring two children, a state trooper said the pursuit was "so stupid" and that troopers "should have called it off a long time ago," according to dash-camera video released Tuesday.
The trooper, who was being consoled by another state trooper when he made the comments, was told by a colleague to "stop talking," according to the recording.
The State Patrol, which released more than 20 hours of video of the chase, did not address those comments at a press conference earlier in the day when Col. Matt Langer said the chase was justified and that the troopers acted within policy.
"I would encourage the public when they watch the video to know that the troopers involved in this incident care," Langer said. "They care deeply about what occurred."
Bruce Gordon, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, later declined to comment on the trooper's criticism of the chase after 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reviewed the video and audio.
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"There's nothing more to add," he wrote in an email.
The video shows troopers chased Kabaar Powell for roughly six minutes through neighborhood streets last June. Powell, who had failed to pull over for speeding and seatbelt violations, blew more than 20 stop signs. At times, the chase topped 80 miles per hour.
State Patrol policy dictates that troopers must terminate a pursuit if there is "clear and unreasonable danger."
Asked how a pursuit that wound through residential streets and a city park was justified, Langer said the policy gives troopers the discretion to make that decision.
"We've had that question within the agency, we've talked about it, we've heard from the public, but ultimately it's a subjective test," he said.
The chase ended when Powell made a sudden turn into the park near Jenny Lind Elementary in North Minneapolis where Kyle Peltier was playing with his children.
Lillie, 4, and Kayden, 2, were both hit by the SUV. Kayden suffered a damaged spinal cord and is still re-learning how to walk.
In an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS last summer, Peltier criticized the troopers for continuing to chase Powell over minor traffic violations.
"Just a little too eager, prideful that day," Peltier said. "They just had to get him."
Jim Schwebel, the family's attorney, says the video of the trooper criticizing the chase shows it was "pretty outrageous."
"You cannot justify a high-speed pursuit in a residential area," he said. "There is not a police department in the country that would approve of this."
That crash prompted a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation of more than 700 chases over the last three years involving state troopers, county sheriff's deputies and city police officers. The findings showed more than 95-percent of those chases started because of traffic violations like a broken taillight or petty misdemeanor crimes like shoplifting.
"I don't think that's good policy," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who criticized the chase that led to the playground crash. "I don't like chases except in extraordinary circumstances."
Langer, who was not made available to respond to the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation -- or Freeman's comments, prior to Tuesday's press conference -- said he was aware of the criticism of the Patrol's policy.
"We continue to search for best practices….we commit to anything we find that's necessary to deal with these issues."
Langer said the policy is under review but would not provide specifics.
Powell is serving more than two years in prison for causing great bodily harm and fleeing from law enforcement.
Updated: December 05, 2018 07:54 AM
Created: December 04, 2018 07:17 PM
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