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Family Of Bystander Killed By Unmarked SUV In Police Chase To Sue City: ‘We Got To Stop This’

This is the second bystander struck and killed by a speeding police vehicle in as many months.

The family of Mario Winters (right) prays during a news conference Thursday.
Hillary Flores/Block Club Chicago
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WEST PULLMAN — The family of a 33-year-old father of five killed after an unmarked police SUV struck him while speeding down a South Side street is filing a lawsuit against the city.

This is the second bystander struck and killed by a speeding police vehicle in as many months.

On July 8 around 10:30 p.m., the police SUV slammed into Mario Winters while he was riding a scooter near 118th and Halsted streets, the Sun-Times reported.

Lawyers for Winters’ family said the SUV was “traveling out of control and at a high rate of speed” with no sirens when they struck Winters, who was pronounced dead on the scene.

Chicago police declined comments, citing pending litigation, but ABC Chicago reports “the officers were part of a tactical team responding to a call” with lights activated but no sirens.

“Five young children no longer have their father because of the willful and wanton actions of the police,” attorney Andrew M. Stroth said Thursday. “And we want to collaborate with (Mayor) Lori Lightfoot to address the issues of police pursuits in Chicago.” 

Last month, Lightfoot vowed to review the police department’s pursuit policy after officers struck and killed 37-year-old Guadalupe Francisco-Martinez, a mother of six, in Lakeview. The officers had been told to stop their pursuit of a suburban car theft suspect four times over the radio, the Sun-Times reported.

“We got to stop this. Seriously. Now we got kids growing up without fathers because the police want to drive stupid,” said Angelica Mann, Winters’ partner and mother of one of his children.

According to police rules, officers should perform a “balancing test” when deciding to pursue a suspect. Such chases should not happen if it puts the public at further risk.

“The city of Chicago has a pattern in practice and history of police officers driving vehicles at excessive and unreasonable speeds,” Stroth said. “I think that the city of Chicago has failed.”

“How many more innocent people need to die before Mayor Lightfoot and Superintendent Brown, take steps to make sure Chicago police officers follow the general orders and respect the sanctity of life?”

Winters’ death is making it difficult for 6-year-old Naqavious Winters and the rest of his family to cope, said Annie Davis, the child’s grandmother.

“I can honestly say he’s hurt,” Davis said. “He talks about his father a lot. He’s hurt saying he will never see his father again. For us, as his family, we’re going to tell him exactly how to live his life. But this young boy doesn’t have a father anymore.” 

Winters’ family said they hope he’s remembered as a good father, but the loss is still sinking in.  

“It’s just I never would have thought, I never […] I know we are all supposed to go someday, but definitely not that way… ,” Mann said. 

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