Family of fatal car crash victim says "senseless" police pursuit led to young mother, wife's death

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The city of Springfield is being sued for a wrongful death.
The family of an innocent woman-- killed when a man crashed into her car-- is suing the city and four narcotics officers, saying it was a "senseless" police chase that led to her death.

Dana Sowards, 31, was killed back in April, 2018, at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Scenic Streets in Springfield.

At issue is this: were Springfield police in a high-speed chase of the man who hit her-- or weren't they? The city says officers were no longer in pursuit; the lawsuit claims otherwise.

"We don't believe that there was any real reason to pursue this particular suspect, Mr. Tommy Morris," said the Sowards' family attorney Greg Aleshire.

Tommy Morris, Junior is the man police say was behind the wheel when he hit and killed Dana Sowards, wife and mother of two young kids.

Court records show police had been conducting surveillance of Morris, suspected of trafficking drugs.

The lawsuit contends that four narcotics agents had their eye on Morris, they knew where to find him, and had no good reason to pursue.

"When you know all those factors and you can find him, it just seems to me that they put aside their primary concern by the terms of their own policy which is the safety of people like Dana Sowards," said Aleshire.
"That's supposed to be the primary thing that these police officers look at... and they ignored that and made that secondary to trying to capture Mr. Morris and that's what led to Dana's death."

The city gave KY3 News "no comment," due to the pending litigation.

"This chase went by a school, through a neighborhood with narrow streets that has 90-degree turns in it, and on-street parking, that's one problem. The other thing is this chase started in the parking lot of the Price Cutter, and then continued onto public streets, but they gave the reason for it as they said that Mr. Morris had struck a pedestrian in the parking lot of the Price Cutter," explained Aleshire. "Well, that wasn't true as it turns out, and even the gentleman who they claim was struck has come in and given a statement that says that wasn't true and he was not hit. So the actual chase started in the parking lot before he struck the shopping cart."

The city has previously told us that they were no longer in pursuit of Morris when the crash happened, although they would not make any statements on Tuesday, citing the pending lawsuit.

Aleshire claims the closest officer was only 2.6 seconds behind Morris-- which Aleshire says proves they still were in pursuit, and traveling at an average speed of 84 miles per hour. Dana Sowards was killed on impact.