Driver didn’t slow before hitting children at playground

Published 7:55 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — An unlicensed driver who was fleeing Minnesota state troopers did not use his brakes or slow down when he plowed through a basketball court, running over two children who were playing with their father and two other siblings, according to charges filed Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Kabaar Powell, 27, was driving at speeds of more than 80 mph through residential areas during Monday’s chase, raising questions about whether troopers should have been following him at that speed.

It’s not clear how fast Powell was going when he hit the kids, but police dashcam video shows the father had just four seconds to gather his children — including one in a stroller — and try to run.

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“It’s just tragic that his careless and criminal driving resulted in serious injuries to these two children,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

Powell completely ran over 2-year-old Kayden Peltier, causing life-threatening injuries, and partially ran over his 4-year-old sister, Lillianna, according to the charges.

Kayden’s injuries include fractures to his pelvis and neck, and intracranial bleeding. He had to have his spleen removed and suffered an acute loss of blood, the complaint said. Freeman said he remained hospitalized.

Lillianna suffered several abrasions, contusions and bleeding on the brain. Another brother, 3-year-old Konnor, had minor injuries.

Powell faces multiple charges, including fleeing a peace officer, criminal vehicular operation and carrying a pistol without a permit.

Online court records don’t list an attorney for Powell to comment on his behalf. He’s expected to appear in court Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint, troopers saw Powell speeding and not wearing a seatbelt on Interstate 94 Monday morning. They tried to stop him, but he fled onto residential streets. The complaint said Powell ran through at least 22 stop signs during the 6-minute chase.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville said he couldn’t comment when asked whether troopers followed pursuit protocols, saying it’s part of an active investigation.

The agency’s guidelines state that a chase should be discontinued when there’s a “clear and unreasonable danger” to the trooper, fleeing motorist or others. The guidelines also say troopers should consider ending the chase if the underlying violation is a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony and it’s possible to identify the suspect later.

The policy doesn’t mention high-speed chases in residential areas.

Freeman was critical of the chase on residential streets.

“If their policy really permits this kind of chase, I think it ought to be reviewed,” he said. “I would rather see someone get away many times than cause this kind of injury. … People’s lives, like these kids’ lives, are a lot more important than catching this guy.”

Neville said Powell hasn’t had a valid driver’s license since 2014. In 2015, Powell was convicted of driving with a suspended license, and he has convictions dating back to 2010 for speeding and for not having the proper type of license.

The vehicle Powell was driving on Monday was also involved in a chase with state patrol on Friday. In that case, the driver got away.