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Woman suing city, shooting suspect over police chase that triggered fatal crash

Updated: July 17, 2013 9:41PM

The daughter of a woman killed late Saturday when a suspect fleeing police on the West Side crashed into her vehicle is suing both the city and the driver charged in her death.

Marisol Mercado, 35, was driving one of three vehicles that James Brown allegedly crashed into at Pulaski Road and Chicago Avenue about 11:30 p.m. Saturday during the police pursuit, authorities said.

On Wednesday, Mercado’s daughter, Valerie Padilla, filed the wrongful death suit, accusing Chicago Police of not using emergency lights or sirens during the chase.

Police should have known a bystander could be seriously hurt because of the high-speed chase and ended the pursuit, the suit claims.

After the crash, a police News Affairs statement said the chase began because the driver was suspected of shooting a man in the 100 block of South Springfield Avenue.

Officers heard the gunfire, saw the car fleeing, and pursued Brown “given the violent nature of the crime he had just committed” after he refused to stop, the statement said. A civilian had also pointed out the suspect to officers before the pursuit, police claim.

The department’s Traffic Review Board will analyze the officers’ decisions to pursue, officials said.

The city has not yet been served with the lawsuit, but plans to “vigorously defend” the officers’ actions, City Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said in an email.

“This is a terrible situation and we offer our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Mercado,” said Drew.

The suit also names Brown as a defendant, accusing him of speeding, refusing to yield and ignoring traffic lights, which led to the fatal crash.

Prosecutors previously said the chase began after Brown, 34, shot a man who he’d been arguing with late Saturday in the 100 block of South Springfield Avenue. Police say officers nearby heard the shots fired and saw Brown, who allegedly was drunk, leaving the scene at a high rate of speed.

The two Chicago Police officers who pursued Brown saw him run several red lights, and drop a gun out his driver’s side window, court records show. He allegedly ran another red light at Pulaski and Chicago, striking an SUV and CTA bus, as well as Mercado’s Saturn.

A total of nine people were hurt, officials said. The driver of the SUV suffered a broken collarbone, and Mercado suffered multiple injuries. Her death was ruled an accident, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Brown is charged with felony murder, aggravated battery, and aggravated DUI causing great bodily harm, and was issued several traffic citations. Judge Laura S. Sullivan ordered him held on a $500,000 bond and set a preliminary hearing for Aug. 5.

Wednesday’s lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims wrongful death and a survival action against both the city and Brown, and seeks at least $200,000 in damages.

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