A Kansas City, Kan., police chase that ended in a violent crash across the state line in Brookside Saturday reached speeds up to 80 mph in densely populated areas, according to police radio traffic.
Police chased a station wagon for more than 13 minutes, reaching high speeds and passing through Westport, the Country Club Plaza and residential neighborhoods, according to recordings of radio traffic obtained by The Star from Broadcastify.com.
Moments before the crash about 5:45 p.m., a pursuing officer advised that the fleeing car had sped up to 80 mph as it approached 63rd Street and Brookside Boulevard, where the suspect ran a red light and smashed into an SUV.
The crash injured a driver and passenger in the SUV, a married couple in their 80s. Both were hospitalized and one was in critical condition, according to Kansas City police.
Kansas City, Kan., police on Tuesday declined to comment on the chase and crash.
“We are conducting our post-pursuit review and will provide you the information you requested once that is complete,” Assistant Chief Pamela Waldeck said in an email.
While some details of what prompted the chase remain unclear, audio recordings of police radio traffic show how dangerous the pursuit became.
Kansas City, Kan., police received a call about a rolling gun battle about 5:15 p.m. at 25th Street and Minnesota Avenue.
Officers spotted a suspect vehicle, a gray Chevrolet HHR station wagon occupied by five people, near 24th Street and Parallel Parkway. The driver of the station wagon fled when officers tried to stop it.
The station wagon spun out on Glendale Avenue and then sped toward an officer who was standing outside a patrol car, Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Terry Zeigler said in a Twitter message the next day.
The driver allegedly struck a police car intentionally, according to police. The officer was not injured and pursued the fleeing vehicle.
The Broadcastify.com recordings pick up the chase when police radio traffic is switched to a channel used regionally during police pursuits.
By that time, the chase had moved to eastbound Central Avenue and a dispatcher advised that police were pursing the station wagon on suspicion of an aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and a report of gunfire.
Police chased the station wagon into Missouri on Interstate 670, where speeds reached more than 80 mph.
“Speeds now 87. Traffic is medium, but yielding,” an officer said 30 seconds later. “Speeds 89 climbing.”
The fleeing car headed south on Interstate 35, where speeds reached 80 mph as it passed Southwest Trafficway on its way back into Kansas.
The station wagon exited onto southbound Mission Road, where a pursuing officer reported speeds were 70 mph. The station wagon cut back into Missouri, where speeds were 60 mph on Westport Road as the chase passed Genessee Street.
“Looks like we have a KCMO unit here,” a pursuing officer advised shortly thereafter. “KCMO, if you’re able to follow, we’d appreciate it please.”
The chase headed south on Broadway at 75 mph, according to an officer.
As the suspect and the pursuing officers passed by the east side of the Country Club Plaza, speeds were reported to be 45 mph.
The fleeing driver headed south on Main Street, where speeds reached 60 mph, according to the recordings. The driver then drove over a sidewalk where Main ends to get onto southbound Brookside. The cars were reported to be going about 45 mph at Huntington Road but the chase picked up speed again.
“Passing 61st Street,” a pursing officer advised. “Traffic is light. Speeds are 80.”
Seconds later, the station wagon ran a red light at 63rd Street and hit the SUV. In addition to the elderly couple inside, a suspect was injured.
Kansas City, Kan., police said the pursuit followed department policy, which allows officers to pursue for a felony, a misdemeanor or a traffic violation.
“Officers must weigh the need for immediate apprehension against the risk and dangers created by the pursuit,” the policy says. The officer is required to consider numerous factors, including the hazards of pedestrian traffic, residential areas and road conditions.
The policy says an officer must inform a supervisor of the chase and request approval. A supervisor should terminate the pursuit if the suspect can be identified and apprehended later.
Assistant Police Chief Waldeck said in an email that the department conducts a post-review of every pursuit.
She said the station wagon was not stolen. It was being driven by a family member of the registered owner.
Across the state line, Kansas City Police Department spokesman Capt. Tim Hernandez said police there also could chase a suspect in the same situation.
“If it was an aggravated assault on officers, we would have the discretion to be involved in the pursuit,” he said. “It would boil down to whoever is the controlling supervisor or commander.“
If the chase is thought to be unsafe, the supervisor can make the decision to stop the pursuit.
That decision also depends on who police are chasing and the nature of the crime.
“Do we know who they are? Can we disregard and put out a warrant?” Hernandez said. “There are a lot of factors.”