CHICAGO (CBS) — A toddler riding with his grandmother gets shot in the head. The grandmother, Kakesia Walker, says Chicago Police towed her vehicle as evidence and she never saw it again. CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini has the family’s story of being victimized twice.
“The first doctor told us we have two choices: ‘You can let him pass away on his own, or you can turn off the machine,’” said Kakesia Walker.
Walker says her family never considered shutting off the machine that was keeping alive her 1-year-old grandson, Dejon Irving, nicknamed Chase. In February Chase became one of Chicago’s youngest shooting victims.
“We heard the glass shatter on the window, and then you heard ‘Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,'” said Walker, who was driving her 22-year-old daughter, Chase and two other grandsons, ages 4 and 5.
Chase was sitting in the middle of the back seat as they headed home from daycare. Walker says she had just parked her SUV when a red four-door sedan drove by and started shooting at them. At least nine bullets pierced the vehicle, possibly more blew out the windows. Walker said they do not know how many people were in the car.
“Just saw the bullets and I saw the red vehicle hit the corner,” said Walker, who then heard her daughter screaming.
Chase was hit twice. Walker raced to the nearest hospital, rushed him inside, and left her SUV at the front door. Police began doing forensics and ordered her SUV towed to the Chicago auto pound.
While Chase struggled to survive, Chicago Police gave Walker another problem — this one related to the towed vehicle.
“The detectives came up and explained to me, once they get done with the investigation, they would give me a fee waiver that I could take to the pound so I don’t have to pay the fees,” said Walker.
But time passed and city towing and storage fees racked up fast.
“I asked them, ‘Where is the letter?'” said Walker. “They said they were waiting on their boss to sign off on the paperwork.”
As a crime victim, Walker was supposed to get her SUV back for free. However, days of waiting for police to give her the waiver turned into weeks, then a month, while impound fees reached $1,545. Walker’s stress grew, too. Remember, during this time, Chase was on life support. To top it off, Walker is an Uber driver and lost her income.
After more than a month of repeatedly asking, the detective finally gave Walker her waiver, which read, “The victim vehicle to be released with all fees waived.”
When she finally got the letter, 33 days later, the vehicle and all her personal belongings inside it were long gone. It was sent off to auction.
“I’m mad,” said Walker about all that happened.
Walker says the detective who had the waiver went on vacation, delaying her getting it. Once it was given to her, Walker says she was then sent to an administrative hearing. With the fees finally waived, she went to the auto pound and learned the city had, a month earlier, already given her SUV to the finance company which held the title.
“I’m upset. I’m angry,” said Walker. “Because I felt I shouldn’t have had to go through all that.”
Attorney Jacie Zolna is filing a claim against the city for Walker.
“They shouldn’t be sticking the bill to the victim,” said Zolna. “This is exactly what people in this city are sick and tired of.”
During this time, Walker did get good news. Chase miraculously pulled through surgery. He survived
Then, more good news came for her last week. In addition to exposing CPD’s fee waiver failure, the CBS 2 Investigators contacted Walker’s finance company, which agreed her SUV was mishandled. The company gave her a replacement vehicle.
“Love it,” said Walker. “I can’t even express my words how much you have helped me out in this situation.”
In one final surprise, the new car was fully paid off for Walker by her finance company — one less thing for her to worry about.
Chicago police say if there is an inefficiency in the process for releasing crime victim property, CPD would most certainly look to address it.
Chicago Police have released images of a red car believed to have been involved with the shooting. If you have information about this vehicle or the shooting, please contact Chicago Police.
Meantime, Chase will need further surgery around his eye, and still has bullet fragments in his head. A GoFundMe account has been established.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated that Chicago Police had “sold” Kakesia Walker’s car. That is incorrect. The auto pound released it to the finance company which held the title and paid the fees.