KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Kansas City, Kan. Police Department announced Thursday that it will temporarily stop vehicle pursuits of those who flee from them, except if the suspect is wanted for a serious felony crime.
This decision comes after an eight-year-old girl died Wednesday night when a man fled from a traffic stop and crashed into a van with a mom and her three kids at 63rd and Leavenworth Road.
The victim is Jasmine Rodriguez, who was a student at Welborn Elementary School, 5200 Leavenworth Rd., in Kansas City, Kan. (Police updated her age on Friday, correcting it from their previous report. Jasmine turned eight-years-old in March.)
The 35-year-old mother and her two other children -- two young boys -- were also injured.
“The hearts of every man and woman in this department are breaking for the families involved,” Kansas City Kansas Police Chief Ellen Hanson said.
At 8:33 an officer conducted a traffic stop for a seatbelt violation at 63rd and Parallel involving a 27-year-old driver. According to the Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Ellen Hanson, the officer noticed suspicious activity from the driver, which included the driver trying to leave. There was a brief struggle between the officer and the driver. The driver managed to break free and drive away.
At 8:35 the officer asked for permission to pursue northbound on 63rd Street. At 8:35:29, the pursuit was approved. According to police, at 8:35:36, dispatchers were advised of an injury accident at 63rd and Leavenworth Road, seven seconds after the officer received permission to pursue the vehicle.
According to police, the driver fled for about a mile, raced through the intersection at 63rd and Leavenworth and slammed into a van with a mother and three children inside.
On Thursday, Kansas City, Kan., said they would temporarily suspended police pursuits unless it involves felonious crimes.
"For this interim period of time, because we know we`ve had two in a relatively short period of time, so we believe in order for us to do our due diligence for the community, we need to take a good hard look at is that working, or is it not working, to the best of our abilities," said Chief Hanson.
It was the second fatality caused by a suspect running from police in just as many months.
The chief said the change to the pursuit policy is temporary and would be reevaluated. She did not have a timetable for how long the department would keep it in place, but in light of the tragedy, authorities believed it was the right decision.
"The kids were actually appear to be more than likely properly belted in child restraints, but the type of the a crash, sometimes is just going to be more force than they can handle and it looks like that may be what happened here in this case," said Howard Dickinson, Kansas Highway Patrol.
The suspect jumped out of the car and tried to run from police, but they captured him. He was in the hospital Wednesday night and charges were expected to be filed against him.