Chicago Heights police sued after 2016 police chase that ended in Homewood

A police chase that began in Chicago Heights and ended in Homewood last August has resulted in a lawsuit.

A complaint filed with the Cook County Circuit Court last month lists 13 Chicago Heights police officers as defendants. The Leland Grove law firm filed the complaint on behalf of Flossmoor residents Ian and Leslie Bobb. Ian Bobb was seriously injured in a crash that resulted from the chase.

The incident took place on Aug. 19, 2016.

According to the complaint, one of the officers began following a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria on Halsted Street in Chicago Heights. The car was reportedly stolen by an individual with a gun. Several other officers responded and pursued the car northbound on Halsted Street through Glenwood and into Homewood.

The Crown Victoria sped up and turned left at 183rd Street, weaving through traffic. The complaint states that the car hit a curb and blew its front passenger tire but continued at “speeds of at least 65 miles per hour, 35 miles per hour over the speed limit.” 

Ian Bobb was stopped on his motorcycle in the left lane of 183rd Street waiting to turn left onto Gottschalk Avenue.

The complaint alleges the lead pursuing officer was driving an unmarked car and didn’t have sirens or lights operating as the chase approached Bobb at Gottschalk Avenue. At least three police vehicles were involved and only one sounded its sirens, according to the complaint. 

The Crown Victoria collided with Bobb and then came to a stop on the sidewalk east of Gottshalk Avenue. Jeremiah Johnson and another man were both apprehended after running from the car. No gun was found at the scene. 

Johnson, of Ford Heights, was later charged with driving a vehicle with wanton disregard for the safety of person or property, failing to reduce his speed to avoid a crash, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, failing to give aid or information, leaving an accident scene with vehicle damage, driving on a suspended license and having no proof of valid insurance. 

The complaint didn’t list any officers from Homewood or Glenwood as plaintiffs. Leland Grove Attorney Stacey Shonkwiler said while police from those towns were involved in the chase for a short period, only Chicago Heights officers were involved for its duration. 

All the officers were served summons on July 5, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office's website. 
Chicago Heights Police Chief Thomas Rogers said the city has a strict policy against commenting on any pending litigation. 

Woodrow Montgomery, safety education officer for the Chicago division of the Illinois State Police, said he couldn’t comment on the procedures involved in pursuits.

He said most departments have different policies regarding when to initiate, continue or stop pursuing a fleeing vehicle. The state police don’t make their policies public. 

The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board does have a list of guidelines available publicly, but they are not legally binding. Those guidelines suggest no more than two police vehicles become involved in a pursuit unless specifically directed by a supervisor. 

They also suggest that weighing “the public safety need to immediately apprehend the suspect against the degree of risk to which peace officers and others are exposed as the result of a pursuit.” 

Lights and sirens are also suggested to be used at the start of the chase.

According to the complaint, Bobb was treated for injuries that included a broken left femur bone. He had surgery on his left hip and was on bed rest for more than four weeks. Leslie Bobb had to help her husband go to the bathroom, dress and clean himself. 

Ian Bobb was in physical therapy from October through December and still walks with a limp, the complaint states. He didn’t return to his work as a portfolio manager for Bank of America until Jan. 3. 

The complaint says further medical procedures will likely be necessary. 

The Homewood and Flossmoor police departments did not respond to requests for comments on local guidelines on procedures during chases.

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