Family of Chicago man files wrongful death lawsuit against Hammond Police Department, city following police pursuit

Angela Perry said her son Larry Perry, who died in the Little Calumet River after a police chase from Hammond to Chicago in February, was a very helpful son, a good father and a hard worker.

Larry Perry Jr., 34, had four children, ranging in age from 13 years old to 1 year old, and he worked for a moving company, she said.

His two older children are having a hard time coping with their father’s death, Angela Perry said. His 7-year-old daughter had a father-daughter dance a week after he died, she said.

One of eight siblings, his family affectionately called him “duck” to differentiate him from his father, she said.

“He would give you anything off your back. He was just too nice,” Angela Perry said. “He was a lively person. He was one of my boys that helped me a lot.”

Now, Angela Perry said she’s left with questions after police pulled her son over in Hammond and a police pursuit ended with the U-Haul — which police say was stolen — he was driving crashing into the Little Calumet River. She’s also calling for the release of body and police car camera footage of the police activity with her son.

“I’m angry, I’m broken-hearted and I’m hurt,” Angela Perry said.

Angela filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Hammond and the Hammond Police Department following his death as police chased him into Chicago before crashing in the Little Calumet River.

The one-count lawsuit, recently obtained by the Post-Tribune, was filed May 9 against the city entities and officers Adam Terhaar and Daniel Percak in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Larry Perry died after police chased the U-Haul he was driving from the Luke gas station, 3550 Sheffield Avenue, in Hammond to 100 E. 130th Street in Chicago, a roughly 8-mile distance, at 4 a.m. on February 21, according to the lawsuit.

Hammond Police spokesman Lt. Steve Kellogg previously said in a news release that officers received a license-plate reader alert for a stolen U-Haul within city limits. Hammond Police Officers Percak and Terhaar tried to pull over Perry near around 136th and Sheffield Avenue after learning that the U-Haul he was driving was reported stolen, according to the lawsuit. Perry allegedly drove away from the officers, according to the lawsuit, who pursued him through residential areas into Illinois.

Police continued following the U-Haul at around 30 miles per hour through the area of 130th and Indiana in Chicago, Kellogg said.

The lawsuit claims that a police vehicle ultimately hit the U-Haul, which caused it to crash into a guardrail and into the Little Calumet River. That account differs from the official account of the crash from Hammond Police, who stated Perry’s truck couldn’t manage a curve in the road and went over the edge of the guardrail into the Little Cal, then Perry jumped into the river and tried to swim away from police.

Perry was injured in the crash and died as a result of those injuries. The Chicago Fire Department retrieved the body, police said.

A woman with active warrants for arrests related to cocaine possession jumped out of the vehicle during the chase, Kellogg said, but police found her and brought her in for questioning.

City attorney Kevin Smith said in an email Tuesday that the law department doesn’t comment on pending litigation and it has not yet been served with this particular lawsuit.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott said Tuesday he had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, but he was familiar with the police case.

“It’s tragic when there is a fatality, but we don’t feel it was because of officer negligence at all,” McDermott said.

The officers “knew or should have known of a violent crime being committed by Larry Perry that would justify pursuit at high speeds,” according to the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Perry’s family argues that police failed to create, maintain, enforce or adhere to appropriate police policies, procedures and protocols. The police also failed to end the pursuit when the risk of injury and death to the public and Perry was greater than the benefit of apprehending him, according to the lawsuit.

The officers also “recklessly made contact with the fleeing vehicle near a waterway,” where they should have known the risks of physical injury, death or property damage to others.

Angela Perry wants to know why police chased her son into Chicago and how the truck her son was driving ended up in a river.

“I just need answers. I got too many unanswered questions,” Angela Perry said. “How did my son end up dead in the Calumet River and not detained?”

Cierra Norris, of the C. Norris Law Group, who is representing Angela Perry in the case, said she deserves answers and transparency to what led to the death of her son.

“This beautiful family lost somebody very important to them. His kids, his mother deserve answers,” Norris said.