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Unlicensed driver charged with running over 3 siblings on Mpls. playground

June 13, 2018

State troopers chased a suspected speeder off an interstate highway into a north Minneapolis neighborhood for several minutes Monday morning, sending him through nearly two dozen stops signs before the full-size SUV veered onto a playground and hit three children.

Details of the pursuit, which took place primarily on residential streets and at high speeds, were spelled out for the first time Wednesday in criminal charges filed in Hennepin County District Court against Kabaar W. Powell, the SUV driver.

Powell, 27, of Richfield, was charged with felony fleeing police resulting in great bodily harm, and gross-misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation and carrying a gun in public without a permit in connection with the incident near Jenny Lind Elementary School. Powell, whose is unlicensed to drive, remains jailed ahead of a Thursday court appearance.

Kayden Peltier, 2, and Lillianna Peltier, 4, were the most severely injured. Both suffered life-threatening injuries, the patrol said. Konnor Peltier, 3, was less seriously hurt.

The pursuit lasted roughly 6 minutes and had two patrol squads and the SUV topping 80 miles per hour, according to the criminal complaint.

The pursuit continued until Powell entered Bohanon Park and hit the children, the charges said. The complaint makes no mention of the troopers ever breaking off the chase, which saw Powell run nearly 22 stop signs.

Since the incident occurred and in the wake of the charging details documenting some of the troopers’ actions, the patrol has repeatedly declined to address how the pursuit unfolded, citing the ongoing investigation. The agency’s policy calls for a pursuit to be discontinued “when there is a clear and unreasonable danger to the trooper, fleeing motorist or other persons.”

A trooper also should “give stronger and continuing consideration to cutting off a pursuit when the suspect is wanted for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony or when the suspect can be positively identified,” according to the policy. This pursuit began when troopers spotted Powell speeding, the patrol said.

While the patrol’s administration has been silent publicly about the troopers’ conduct, Patrol Sgt. Jeremy Solie provided some insight in the criminal complaint:

Powell was spotted by a trooper speeding above the 60 mph limit on Interstate 94 near 46th Avenue. He fled after the squad car emergency lights were activated, “and a high-speed pursuit began,” the court filing read. Powell then ran one stop sign after another as two patrol vehicles gave chase.

The SUV drove across a wide swath of grass at the park, near a tennis court and a basketball court. That’s where 30-year-old Kyle Peltier was playing with four of his seven children while his wife was in a class taking a test.

Powell ran “completely over” 2-year-old Kayden and “partially over” 4-year-old Lillianna, the charges continued. Also injured in the mayhem was 3-year-old Konnor, according to the patrol.

Patrol squad video from a dash camera showed Kyle Peltier “attempting to gather [Kayden and Lillianna] and his other children, one of whom is in a stroller to flee the basketball court before [the SUV] hits them,” but the youngsters were struck within seconds, the complaint revealed.

The SUV’s brake lights were not activated, and Powell failed to slow down before hitting the children, the complaint said.

Powell had his license revoked, and it has not been valid since August 2014, according to the state Department of Public Safety. His criminal record includes a 2015 conviction for driving after losing his license. He has other traffic convictions dating to 2010 for twice not having the proper license for the type of vehicle he was operating, for speeding and for driving without insurance.

Some of the offenses occurred since he last lost his license, including in March 2016, when he was stopped in Ramsey County for going 75 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. That case is pending.

His driving record also shows that his difficulty keeping a valid license stems from failing to pay fines or make court appearances in connection with relatively minor traffic and parking offenses.

The patrol has so far declined to disclose the actions of the troopers during the pursuit, citing the ongoing investigation. The agency’s policy calls for a pursuit to be discontinued “when there is a clear and unreasonable danger to the trooper, fleeing motorist or other persons.”

A trooper also should “give stronger and continuing consideration to cutting off a pursuit when the suspect is wanted for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony or when the suspect can be positively identified,” according to the policy. This pursuit began with Powell being spotted speeding, the patrol said.

In Brooklyn Center, police there said they ordered their officers not to join the chase when it entered their city. Police Cmdr. Rick Gabler said the suspected offense of speeding failed to meet the department’s threshold to pursue a fleeing motorist.

Two of the troopers pursuing Powell were slightly hurt while apprehending him. Troopers Jacob Anderson, Albert Kuehne and trainee Michael Cariveau, were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

An aunt to the children, Devin Brinkley, said earlier this week that the three children who were injured and their four siblings, all under 10 years old, were with their father at the playground when the SUV veered off course. The children’s mother, Nicolle Peltier, was at a class taking a test at the time.

Court records say the SUV hit the three children as they played basketball, and Brinkley said three others were nearby on a jungle gym while Kyle Peltier was with his baby daughter.

The patrol said the SUV was not stolen. Its owner lives in Brooklyn Center, about 2½ miles from the crash scene. She couldn’t be reached for comment.

That same SUV was pursued by a trooper around the same time of day three days earlier in north Minneapolis, but the perilous actions of the driver, yet to be identified, allowed him to get away, according to the State Patrol.

In that encounter roughly 4 miles south of Monday’s incident, the trooper clocked the man driving the SUV and another motorist at 74 mph in a 60 mph zone while heading south on Interstate 94, according to the patrol’s incident report.

The trooper activated the squad’s emergency lights while behind the SUV, which left I-94 at West Broadway and “drove off the road to the right through the grass and fled through a bar parking lot,” the report read.

The trooper ended pursuit when the SUV “blew through four stop signs and the trooper lost sight of the vehicle,” the report continued.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482