The family of a nine-year-old girl who was fatally struck by an SUV last summer is suing Baltimore city and the police department.
The family of a 9-year-old girl who was fatally struck by a stolen SUV last summer is suing Baltimore city, the police department and one of its officers, alleging the officer engaged in a high-speed chase that led to her death, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
Amirah Kinlaw, a third grader at Steuart Hill Academic Academy, was leaving the school in June 2016 when she was struck by a stolen Jeep Liberty driven by a teenage boy.
Police said last year that the officer was not pursuing the vehicle, but the complaint by Amirah's family alleges the officer decided to "engage in a high-speed chase in pursuit of a possible stolen vehicle."
"A high speed chase in a school zone is grossly negligent," said attorney Matthew E. Bennett, who is representing Amirah's mother, April Carter.
"She misses her daughter and it's very upsetting to think about what happened," Bennett said.
The lawsuit filed in Baltimore Circuit Court last week seeks damages in excess of $75,000.
A Baltimore police spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.
At the time of the incident, police spokesman Detective Donny Moses said, "We do not believe that this was a pursuit. We have several independent witnesses that confirmed it."
The officer "never had the chance" to pursue, Moses said. "Bottom line: We don't chase, school zone or not. We don't chase stolen autos."
The complaint alleges that Officer Aisha White-Bey did not follow the department's general orders, and that she "failed to exercise due regard for the safety of all persons and at all times relevant herein acted with reckless disregard for human life; she thereby endangered the lives of Miss Kinlaw and other children in the area."
Residents near the school on S. Gilmor Street called police about 2:20 p.m. on June 16, 2016 to report a suspicious Jeep circling the neighborhood.
White-Bey, who was on patrol, passed the SUV in the 300 block of S. Gilmor Street. Police said she made a U-turn and turned on her lights when the Jeep sped off down South Gilmor Street toward the elementary school.
About 30 seconds later, the SUV ran through a red light at Lombard Street, hit a Nissan Sentra and other cars before striking a crossing guard and hitting Amirah, police said.
Officers are permitted to pursue a fleeing vehicle if a person inside is a felony suspect who poses an immediate threat of seriously injuring or killing another person, and the officers do not believe the dangers posed by the pursuit outweigh the threat posed by the suspect.
But the complaint says the officer violated the department's general orders, and "the suspect continued to drive away, leading the chase," causing the crash.
A 14-year-old boy was later arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, auto theft and traffic charges. Police said he was charged as a juvenile because of his age and the nature of the crime, and did not release his name.
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In March, the city agreed to pay $500,000 to the families of three people killed in a 2013 police chase by officers in an unmarked car. That chase began in the 2500 block of Harford Road and continued for 4.3 miles in less than 3 1/2 minutes in an unmarked Dodge Avenger with emergency lights activated.
The city law department wanted to settle the case "because of the extensive injuries involved, conflicting factual issues, and given the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts," according to the Board of Estimates agenda.