$3 Million Award for Police Chase Death

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A City Court jury awarded $3.1 million to the family of a woman who was killed by a suspect fleeing from an Uplands Park police chase.
     Lashanna Snipes, 34, was driving her sister, two children and a grandnephew to a relative’s house to hang Christmas lights on Dec. 3, 2009, when a suspect fleeing Uplands Park police struck her car. Snipes was killed.
     About half of the award went to compensate Snipes’ family for her death, with the rest for injuries suffered by the other people in the car.
     Volunteer police Officer Lamont Aikens and Sgt. Janet Riley began pursuing Derion Henderson, then 16, in Uplands Park. They claimed they ended the pursuit more than a dozen blocks before the crash.
     But an eyewitness testified that the chase passed by her at nearly 80 mph several blocks later. The witness called St. Louis police, claiming both vehicles in the chase hit her car.
     Aikens and Riley testified that they were forced to resume pursuit after Henderson hit the car, but an attorney for Snipes’ family told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that that claim was made only after they learned of the witness.
     Aikens, who was driving the police car, was a volunteer without police certification, the Post-Dispatch reported. According to testimony, he was hired by Uplands Park 2 months before the chase even though Aikens had a history of 18 arrests, including two felonies. Aikens is no longer with Uplands Park, but Riley still is, according to the Post-Dispatch.
     Henderson is serving 17 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and vehicle tampering for his involvement in the crash.
     Uplands Park is 10 miles north of St. Louis.

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