Family questions police procedure after KCK woman was killed in pursuit

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A family is mourning the loss of a loved one, an innocent bystander who died Monday at the end of a police chase. It happened at 34th and Shawnee Drive, where some family members are questioning whether the police pursuit that killed Graciela Olivas was necessary.

The Olivas family is well-known in the Kansas City area. The victim’s sons work for the Kansas City, Mo. Fire Department and her daughter is a well-known broadcast journalist.

The Kansas Highway Patrol tells FOX 4 News that just before 7 p.m. Monday, KCK police observed some suspicious activity that they believe was drug-related near the corner of 27th and Shawnee Drive. As one vehicle left that intersection, police say the driver committed a traffic violation and officers then tried to pull the car over. Instead, troopers say that vehicle immediately sped off east on Shawnee Drive, where it crashed a few blocks away into a car driven by 62-year-old Graciela Olivas. Troopers say the speeding vehicle ran through a stop sign causing the crash.

On Tuesday, family members of Olivas questioned whether a chase over something like a traffic violation was worth a innocent woman’s life.

“There’s a time to stop,” said Alva Hernandez. “You know especially on highways, you know, it’s most likely they can catch them, but when they get into the city on these little streets a bystander is going to get hurt. Until they realize it, when they go and they see it’s their parents, or their daughter or anybody in their family, these police officers they are going to realize that they need to stop that.”

The highway patrol is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding this death. The Wyandotte County district attorney’s office says the driver of the vehicle that hit Olivas ran away from the crash scene. His identity may be released soon.

A trooper tells FOX 4 News even if police had ended the pursuit as quickly as it started, the deadly wreck may not have been avoided, since the crash happened so soon after police attempted to make the traffic stop. Neighbors have expressed concerns about increased crime, but they also say there must be a better way to attack it without putting innocent lives at risk.

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