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Chicago will pay $15 million to family of woman killed during high-speed police chase

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The city of Chicago have agreed a $15 million settlement after 37-year-old mother of six Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez was killed in a crash at Irving Park Road and Ashland Avenue.  

“There will be enormous sympathy for the family of (Francisco-Martinez), who endured such a tragic, tragic event,” the city’s finance committee said in a statement ahead of the settlement. “The accident involved the Chicago police officer himself; it was not the offender that was involved in the accident, which is going to potentially affect the amount of a settlement and a verdict.”

Chicago Police Officer Juan Blanco hit Francisco-Martinez when his police car, which was travelling at 98mph, hit her 2005 Ford Explorer. Blanco and the other officers had reportedly been ordered to cease the chase before the fatal crash occurred.

According to The Chicago Times, the car chase started on the Far South Side after Illinois State Police saw Jeep Grand Cherokee which was wanted in connection with a shooting two days prior. Police helicopters and television news helicopters tracked the Jeep for 2 hours along the Kennedy Expressway before it crashed near Keystone Avenue and Irving Park Road.

The driver was able to car jack a silver Nissan SUV at a gas station, and the chase continued for some time before the officers were told to end the chase.

“A male member of the Chicago Police Department radioed, ‘Terminate the chase. Let PH1 monitor the vehicle’s location,’” the lawsuit quotes a the following transmission on police radios.

“Subsequent to [that] radio transmission, a female police dispatcher made the following broadcast: ‘Alright. Getting a terminate. Terminate the chase.’ Subsequent to that transmission, a male member of the Police Department made the following transmission: ‘Northbound on Menard. We are terminating at Montrose and Menard.’”

Whilst the lawsuit has been agreed, Blanco’s actions remain under investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, officials have confirmed.

Tom Power, who is acting for Francisco-Martinez’s family was not available for comment, but he stated in his lawsuit that “for an excessive distance at extremely high rates of speed….without express authorization to do so by a superior” when they “knew or should have known that the action would likely lead to an injury.”

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