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Independence police chase causes damage-responsibility confusion

Posted at 7:35 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 20:49:13-05

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A police chase that ended in a crash is causing confusion as to who is responsible for the damage.

A deputy was following a car that was confirmed stolen by a license plate check, according to Jackson County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer LaVanden Darks. The deputy radioed to Independence Police to be in the area in case the driver took off.

Darks said an Independence officer tried to stop the driver, but the suspect eluded police, lost control of the car and caused an accident.

The female suspect, who Darks said had an active felony warrant out of Kansas, crashed the car into a car parked at Isaac's Truman Road Auto Repair Shop.

Owner Isaac Mayfield said he had just completed work on the car and was about to call its owner to come get it.

Mayfield said he had been under the impression that the damage would be his financial responsibility because of what others had told him.

"I'm just wondering how am I going to pay it number one," Mayfield said. "I mean, a lot of people have money, but I don't."

When 41 Action News reached out to the City of Independence about where the responsibility falls, the city said to contact police. In previous conversations via email, Meg Lewis, the city's public information officer, said the city's insurer will cover any property damage from police pursuits in which the damage totals more than $10,000. Anything less comes from the city's budget.

While Mayfield might not have to foot the bill, he said that's news to him.

"They never communicated with me bit, and I feel that they should," Mayfield said.

He said the situation brings another issue to light as well.

"They are endangering the public," Mayfield said.

According to the city's 2018 police chase policy, officers can go after suspects for misdemeanors and traffic offenses, but they must avoid those pursuits if they pose an unnecessary risk to life or property.

"I think that the city police department needs to do stuff differently," Mayfield said, "and I think if they hadn't been involved in this, I would almost guarantee this car wouldn't have got hit."

41 Action News reached out to Independence Police about this incident but has not heard back.