SUV driver charged with plowing into Mpls. playground, injuring kids

Troopers investigate the scene of a crash at a north Mpls. playground.
Minnesota State Patrol troopers investigate the scene of a crash at a north Minneapolis playground on June 11, 2018.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Updated: 3:43 p.m. | Posted: 12:59 p.m.

A Richfield man faces five criminal charges for allegedly trying to outrun state troopers then plowing his SUV into a Minneapolis playground, injuring three children, two of them badly.

Kabaar Powell, 27, was charged with felony fleeing police in a motor vehicle resulting in great bodily harm and fleeing police in a motor vehicle resulting in substantial bodily harm, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said Wednesday. He was also charged with three gross misdemeanors. Two were criminal vehicular operation with bodily harm and a single count of possession of a pistol without a permit in a public place.

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"I think this is an opportunity for [state troopers] to look at it to make sure that their officers were following the policy," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "And if their policy really permits this kind of chase, I think it ought to be reviewed. I would rather see someone get away many times than cause this kind of injury. Residential streets are just not made for people driving 80 miles an hour."

According to the complaint, troopers tried to pull Powell over on Interstate 94 after noting the SUV driving faster than the speed limit and discovering his license had been revoked. He sped away. Troopers chased him for about six minutes, "primarily through residential streets with speeds as high as 80 miles per hour" as Powell blew through stop signs, the county attorney's office said.

Eventually, Powell turned into Bohanon Park near 50th and Dupont avenues near Jenny Lind Elementary school, driving on the grass and toward a basketball court where a man was playing with his four children.

Two of them were struck by Powell's SUV. "Squad car video showed the father trying to gather up his children to flee the basketball court, but had only four seconds to do it," the county attorney's office said.

Powell then smashed into playground equipment, jumped from the vehicle and ran, according to charging documents. Troopers captured him after the foot chase and found a handgun and ammunition in the car, authorities said, adding that Powell does not have a permit to carry a firearm.

The State Patrol identified the injured siblings on Monday as Kayden Peltier, 2, and Lilliana Peltier, 4, describing their injuries as life-threatening. Their 3-year-old brother, Konnor Peltier, was also taken to the hospital but was not hurt as badly as the other two.

On Wednesday, the county attorney's office said the 2-year-old "had to have his spleen removed. He suffered a pelvic fracture, a cervical spine fracture, intracranial bleeding and he lost a great deal of blood, according to the complaint. His sister suffered bleeding between the brain and the tissue covering the brain as well as cuts and bruises on her upper body."

Powell is expected to make his first court appearance Thursday.

Watch Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman discuss the charges in the playground crash.