Watch CBS News

Lawsuit: Police Ignored Orders To Halt Chase, Caused Toddler's Death

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The family of a toddler killed by a hit-and-run driver fleeing a fatal shooting has announced a lawsuit against the city of Chicago, alleging police are to blame for the boy's death.

Dillan Harris was sitting in a stroller as he and his mother waited at a bus stop near 63rd Street and Ellis Avenue on July 11, when 21-year-old Antoine Watkins allegedly jumped the curb while fleeing police, and ran over 13-month-old Dillan.

Watkins was arrested a short time later, after police saw him driving a car matching the description of the vehicle that killed Dillan.

Dillan's mother, Shatrelle McComb, has sued 20 unnamed police officers, alleging they disregarded orders to halt a pursuit of Watkins, who allegedly was fleeing a fatal shooting in the 7700 block of South Kingston Avenue. That shooting left 22-year-old Melvin Carr – a rapper known as Capo – dead of multiple gunshot wounds.

Watkins also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

"The only thing I have to say is my son was innocent, and he should not have died," McComb said.


McComb's lawyers said police share responsibility for Dillan's death, because they were chasing Watkins through a residential neighborhood, where he was driving up to 70 miles an hour, and running red lights.

According to the lawsuit, police supervisors instructed officers to stop the chase, because of the danger to pedestrians, but they continued their pursuit for another 20 minutes.

"This is a tragedy that we're sick and tired of hearing in the city of Chicago. Needlessly, children are dying on our city's streets, and this is the direct result of a police chase that should not have happened," said McComb's attorney, Antonio Romanucci.

Romanucci accused the officers of ignoring public safety as they chased Watkins across four miles of residential streets.

"At a certain point, you actually have to let them go if you can't catch them, because somebody will die," he said.

He said police often have good reason to chase a person suspected in a serious crime, but that has to be balanced against the risks.

"Is it a residential neighborhood? What are the speed limits in the neighborhood?" he said.

In response to the lawsuit, the city's Law Department issued a statement saying, "While we are deeply saddened by this tragic event, there is no evidence to suggest that anyone other than Antoine Watkins is responsible for this incident."

Watkins has been charged with first-degree murder in Dillan's death, but has not been charged in connection with Carr's death, as of Thursday morning.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.