Lawsuit claims police should have terminated chase before crash that killed Willie Owens

Paul Forbes has been charged with the murder of Willie Owens, but a lawsuit filed Friday claims Chicago Police caused the crash that killed the 66-year-old South Sider by not terminating a vehicle chase.

Owen’s daughter filed the lawsuit against the city, alleging officers should have stopped the pursuit before the deadly crash.

Sharday Johnson filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of her father, who was killed Aug. 24 when he was struck by the car driven by the 26-year-old Forbes.

Forbes is charged with one count of murder, one count of aggravated fleeing, and two counts of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, all felonies, according to police. He was also charged with misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, and cited for disobeying a red light.

Forbes was driving a Pontiac Bonneville when officers pulled him over for a traffic violation about 7:35 p.m. in the 7500 block of South St. Lawrence, police said. When the officers got out of their squad vehicle, the Pontiac took off westbound on 75th Street, police said.

The car blew a red light at 75th and King Drive, hit a Subaru in the intersection and continued fleeing, police said. He was traveling up to 80-90 mph, according to data obtained from his car’s airbag control module, Assistant State’s Attorney Kim Przekota said during Forbes’ bond hearing.

It then hit Owens, who was standing in the roadway tending to the front bumper of his truck, which had become disabled earlier, Przekota said. Owen’s leg was severed from being pinned between the two cars and the rest of his body was flung 15 feet in the air.

Owens, of the 7400 block of South King Drive, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he died at 8:32 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The Pontiac also pushed Owens’ vehicle into the Chevrolet Cruze in front of it, which had two people inside, authorities said. Those victims suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from Jackson Park Hospital.

Two women in the Subaru were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

One the women, 88-year-old Margaret Silas, was paralyzed in the crash and died at Christ at 6:03 p.m. Aug. 29, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy found she died of complications of injuries from the crash, and her death was ruled an accident.

During a bond hearing Aug. 27, Forbes was ordered held without bond. He is next scheduled to appear in court Sept. 14.

Friday’s lawsuit claims the officers pursing Forbes should have terminated the pursuit when it led them into a densely populated area, where the lives of others were at risk.

Owens was survived by his daughter, Johnson, as well as four other children, the suit claims.

The one-count suit seeks at least $50,000 in damages.

The city has not yet been served with the suit, according to city Department of Law spokesman John Holden, who declined to comment on it Friday evening.

—Chicago Sun-Times Wire

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