KC Police Chief: ‘To this day, I have no idea why that accident occurred’
Update: Six hours after this story posted, the Kansas City Police Department released the police report from the wreck discussed in this story. A new story, with details from that report, is posted here.
More than two weeks after an off-duty Kansas City police officer caused a fatal crash on Interstate 435, the Police Department has yet to release a police report from the wreck.
What led up to the Oct. 21 crash, which killed a Shawnee Mission South High School student on the way to a Kansas City Chiefs game, remains unclear.
The Police Department has not said the police officer’s name or why he was driving a department van to an off-duty job at Arrowhead Stadium.
And after 17 days, the Police Department has not released a police report of the kind produced from any wreck, even though Missouri law requires it.
Immediately after the crash, police announced some of the basic facts of the incident. Later that week, Police Chief Rick Smith held a press conference, saying he did not know what caused the wreck.
Two days after the crash, the officer had not yet given investigators a statement, Smith said.
The Kansas City Star requested the incident report from the wreck one day after it occurred, on Oct. 22.
But the Police Department has declined to provide one.
Law enforcement agencies are required by Missouri law to release incident or accident reports after receiving a formal request. Incident reports are considered open records — not closed investigative records.
On Wednesday, a Police Department spokesman did not provide an update on the investigation of the crash, saying police are reviewing what information about the wreck they could release.
“Standard incident reports take at least 7-10 days to complete the administrative/data entry approval process before reproduction is permissible,” Capt. Lionel Colón said Wednesday. “Fatality accidents require additional details compared to a standard incident report and can take up to 30 days to complete the administrative/data entry approval process before reproduction is permissible.”
The Police Department brought in the Missouri Highway Patrol to help with the investigation.
When the investigation is complete, the case file will be submitted to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office to review and decide whether criminal charges will be filed, Colón said.
The crash happened when a police van slammed into the rear of a family’s car in slow-moving traffic before the Kansas City Chiefs game.
Chandan Rajanna, 17, was killed at the scene. His father and sister, in the car with him, were severely injured.
The officer driving the van, also injured in the wreck, was on his way to an off-duty job at Arrowhead Stadium, according to police.
The Police Department has said the officer is assigned to the Police Athletic League, where he serves as a mentor and youth coach. He has been with the department for six years. The Police Department has not released his name.
Police have not said if the officer had been on duty or had worked another off-duty assignment prior driving to the stadium.
The Star contacted the police officer thought to be the driver of the van. But the officer referred questions to the Police Department media office.
Since the wreck, Chandan’s father and sister have remained hospitalized.
His father Krishna Rajanna, 81, on Wednesday remained in the intensive care unit at Truman Medical Center.
Krishna Rajanna suffered multiple internal injuries in the wreck, including severe arm, rib and leg fractures. Chandan’s sister Lisa Allen suffered a brain injury and was recently moved to a rehabilitation hospital in Lincoln, Neb.
The family has hired a personal injury lawyer.
“The Rajanna family has been busy tending to the healthcare needs of Krishna and his daughter, Lisa Allen, and making funeral arrangements for Chandan,” said David Morantz, the family’s attorney. “We continue to investigate the I-435 collision and all potential claims against those responsible for this tragedy.”