10-year CPD veteran killed when chase ends in crash - Fox 2 News Headlines

10-year CPD veteran killed when chase ends in crash

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An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (George Slefo for Sun-Times Media) An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (George Slefo for Sun-Times Media)
An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (NVP News) An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (NVP News)
An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (NVP News) An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (NVP News)
An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (George Slefo for Sun-Times Media) An off-duty Chicago police officer was killed early Friday after a police chase that started in Calumet Park, police said. (George Slefo for Sun-Times Media)
Police Officer David L. Harris, 42 Police Officer David L. Harris, 42
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A 10-year veteran with the Chicago Police Department was killed after a police chase ended in a crash just off the Dan Ryan Expressway early Friday.

David L. Harris, 42 of the 8500 block of South Kolmar Avenue, had just finished his shift and was on his way home in his personal vehicle. He was a member of a saturation unit dispatched to high-crime areas on the South Side. He was still in uniform when emergency crews found him.

Harris was an officer for 10 1/2 years and earned 87 department awards during his career, including two Department Commendations, a Joint Operations Award and a Unit Meritorious Performance Award.

The chase started about 1 a.m., when police in south suburban Calumet Park began pursuing a stolen vehicle because of traffic violations. The chase later ended with a crash in the 8700 block of South Lafayette Avenue, just off the Dan Ryan. Two Calumet Park police vehicles were also on scene.

Calumet Park police had attempted to pull over the fleeing van, but the female driver and male passenger reportedly sped off down the Dan Ryan expressway. Witnesses said the vehicle was doing more than a hundred miles an hour at times.

The two in the van were arrested, and sustained minor injuries. Police said a small amount of narcotics was found at the scene.

"Last night's traffic crash, which killed a Chicago Police officer, is a terrible tragedy," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement. "He dedicated his life to protecting our residents and communities, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. We ask everyone to respect the privacy of the officer's family and friends in this difficult time."

At Harris' home, supporters brought food and other items in a box marked 4th District, where Harris worked. They also brought whatever comfort they could to the officer's widow, and two young sons.

"He was humble, but very courageous and an honorable man. He served his city and he served his family well, and he's truly one of Chicago's finest," said Jeanette Little-Davis, a cousin of the fallen officer.

C.W. Harris, 42, has lived on the same block in the Ashburn neighborhood as David Harris for several years, and remembered his devotion to his wife and two young sons.

"The biggest thing about him, he was a great neighbor and a family man. He did his job and watched out for his children and his wife," C.W. Harris said. "I remember him being my friend."

Neighbor Ronald Rockwell, 62, wiped away tears as he spoke about the officer.

"It's so bad, so useless, that a good man like that is lost to this city," Rockwell said. "I'm going to miss him."

Rockwell said the officer had moved to the neighborhood about four years ago with his family. Harris often sought out advice from the older Rockwell — from everything to raising kids to maintaining his lawn.

"He always admired my lawn. So he asked me how he could keep his lawn like that . . . so I gave him tips on how to keep his lawn nice and green and lush, and from there, we borrowed tools from each other," Rockwell added.

Rockwell said the officer's two young sons could often be seen playing in the front yard.

"Just a great man," Rockwell said. "The world has lost a good soul, a good spirit, and we have so few. It's just a waste."

"I was just devastated; Way too young and a good man, a good father, and to leave a young wife with two young boys like that, just tragic," said neighbor Bill Burns. "To work in high crime areas, make it to the end of your shift and be on your way home…then he gets hit sitting at a red light…"

Relatives said Harris wanted to be a police officer his whole life. He previously worked for the Maywood Police Department.

"It was something that could have been avoided. I'm not a police officer, but I know in a city like Chicago you do not pursue," said Little-Davis.

The pursuing officer who was tailing the stolen vehicle was reportedly told to terminate the chase, but it's not clear how long before the fatal accident this order was given.

"Tragedy; It just happened and ain't nothing much you can do about it. He was at the wrong place, wrong time," added Leslie Austin, a relative of Harris.

FOX 32's Joanie Lum and the Sun-Times contributed to this report.

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