Charges pending for man who drove SUV into Minneapolis park, injuring children

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A man is still being held at Hennepin County Jail a day after he allegedly drove his SUV into a Minneapolis park playground Monday while fleeing police, injuring several children. Two of the young children suffered life-threatening injuries.

Kabaar Powell, 27, remains in jail awaiting charges while the children are recovering at North Memorial Medical Center.

The children have been identified as 4-year-old Lilliana Peltier, 3-year-old Konnor Peltier and 2-year-old Kayden Peltier.

The children were at a playground in Bohannan Park in north Minneapolis Monday morning when a black SUV crashed into them. The Minnesota State Patrol said a trooper tried to pull over 27-year-old Powell for a traffic violation, but instead, Powell sped off and led troopers on a chase from I-94 onto surface streets and eventually into the park.

Now, neighbors are still trying to figure out how it all happened.

City Councilman Philippe Cunningham represents the area and said he’s hearing concerns from residents who are upset that the pursuit ended on a playground.

“From what I’ve heard from folks, [their concerns] are the number of high speed chases that are happening in residential areas,” Cunningham said. “At the end of the day I want to make sure that my constituents are safe and that when people come to visit north Minneapolis, as this family did, that they are safe while here.”

As the investigation continues, officials are reviewing the state patrol's chase policy.

A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety said there were a total of three troopers in two different squads. One of the troopers was still training. 

“Every situation's different; that's up to the state trooper or the supervisor that's listening on the radio at the time,” said Captain Jason Bartell with state patrol. “Our thoughts and prayers just go out to the family of the kids that were injured as part of this incident. We're thinking about them constantly.”

Meanwhile, over at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, officers practice their pursuit skills.

Jim Unger, a former cop with the Eagan Police Department, trains law enforcement agencies on chase protocols and pit maneuvers. He said every department has their own policy and officers typically get around 16 hours of training before heading out into the field.

The officers are then required to renew that training every five years. And, a supervisor can always call off a chase if they feel the greater public is in harm's way.

"Is the risk worth chasing them for?" Unger asks the officers.

Hennepin County prosecutors have until Wednesday to charge Kabaar Powell.

Powell has not had a valid driver's license since 2014 and has a long list of traffic violations on his record. Officers also discovered a gun in his SUV after the crash.