A suspected thief who led authorities on a wild car chase that sent one officer to the hospital, later complained that police should have halted the chase because he was intentionally putting civilians in danger.
The suspect is also being investigated by nine other police departments, according to local police. Kevin Lamb, a 41-year-old Chicago resident, was apprehended earlier this month and is facing a multitude of charges including an allegation that he struck an arresting officer with his 2007 Kia while driving backwards, against traffic, on a highway on-ramp.
The hairy pursuit began at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 when members of the village’s tactical unit saw Lamb cut across several lanes of traffic on Harlem Avenue and take the entrance ramp to the eastbound lanes of Interstate 290. Investigators later learned that Lamb had just stolen a woman’s purse at a nearby gas station and was attempting to make his getaway, according to a department sergeant.
While on the highway ramp, Lamb’s escape was blocked by traffic and officers quickly moved in to make an arrest. However, as officer Kenneth Gross opened the driver’s side door and attempted to grab hold of Lamb, the suspect threw the car into reverse and slammed his foot down on the accelerator. Gross was struck in the back by the car’s open door and Lamb proceeded to drive against the flow of traffic and back onto Harlem Avenue, according to police.
Police gave chase and radioed neighboring departments of the pursuit. Oak Park police picked up the suspect at the junction of Garfield and Elmwood streets, but Lamb continued to elude them.
“By Oak Park’s Rehm Park, Lamb drove over the curb, on the parkway and down the sidewalk,” according to Gross’s written report of the chase. “Lamb drove his auto straight at our squad car then onto eastbound Garfield striking officer [Jason] Keeling’s squad car. After striking the squad car, Lamb continued eastbound on Garfield, striking officer Keeling’s auto at least two more times.”
According to Gross’s report, Lamb struck another police squad car and then rammed into an unsuspecting motorist while driving south along Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Park. The car finally came to stop outside of 515 Garfield St.
Police again attempted to open the driver’s side door, but it was stuck. Lamb was ordered to get out of the car and did not comply. Police smashed the car window and Forest Park officer Lee Young attempted to stun the suspect with his Taser, but the device’s probes failed to make contact. Officers were forced to physically pull him from the car in order to handcuff him.
Authorities found more than $1,000 in cash in Lamb’s pockets, according to a department report, along with a purse allegedly stolen from a woman who was pumping gas at the BP station at 7204 Washington St.
Once in custody, police began to piece together Lamb’s reasons for leading them on such a dangerous chase and uncovered a security tape from the BP station allegedly showing him stealthily taking the purse from a woman’s car. According to Forest Park Det. Sgt. Michael Keating, Lamb is under investigation for similar thefts in Riverside, Broadview, Palos Heights, Crestwood and five other suburban communities. In Alsip, authorities there have already had two car chases with Lamb, according to Keating.
In a supplemental report Keeling, whose squad car was struck in the chase, outlined his conversations with Lamb as he accompanied him to a nearby hospital where Lamb was treated and released. According to Keeling’s report, Lamb deliberately placed innocent people in jeopardy as part of a strategy to avoid capture.
“Lamb related that he did not stop for police because he thought the police would stop chasing him if the public was put in danger,” Keeling said in his report. “Lamb further related that he felt police were wrong for continuing to chase him when he didn’t stop.”
Gross, the officer who was struck by Lamb’s car on the highway entrance ramp, was treated and released from Loyola Hospital after the incident.
Lamb is facing 19 criminal charges out of Forest Park.