Widower of Mom Fatally Struck by Suspect in Police Chase Is Suing Officers for 'Senseless' Pursuit

A grieving widower has filed a wrongful death suit against a Missouri city and four of its police officers, alleging his wife — the mother of his two young children — was killed as an innocent bystander during an unnecessary police chase in April.

According to the civil suit, a copy of which was obtained by PEOPLE, Dustin Sowards of Nixa sued the city of Springfield and four narcotics detectives — Neal McAmis, J.J. Tauai, Craig Harter and Michael Ramsey — on Oct. 1. The suit names Sowards as well as the couple’s 8-year-old son, Gage, and 5-year-old daughter, Macy, as plaintiffs.

The suit states that Dana Sowards, 31, was killed on April 17 when a suspected drug dealer ran a red light, entered a busy intersection at 90-plus miles per hour, and slammed into the young mother’s car while allegedly trying to evade arrest.

Police had been pursuing Tommy Morris Jr., 54, at the time of the crash. According to Greene County court records, Morris is now charged with second-degree murder in Sowards’ death. He is also charged with attempting to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute because police allege a post-accident search of Morris’ vehicle turned up a backpack containing 60 grams of methamphetamine.

He hasn’t pleaded to any of the charges and attorney information for him was not immediately available.

The lawsuit details how the high-speed chase began and provides a timeline of the actions and decisions made by police leading up to the crash.

The civil suit challenges what it describes as an earlier assertion made by police that the chase was not active when the deadly accident occurred, arguing the nearest officer was less than 3 seconds behind Morris. In addition, the suit contends the chase was “senseless,” noting the four officers were aware Morris was staying in a nearby hotel after monitoring his movements for hours.

The suit further alleges the four officers failed to call off the pursuit despite the increasingly erratic maneuvers Morris allegedly made in his efforts to flee.

The civil filing also accuses officers of lying to supervisors in an effort to keep the chase active in violation of department policy.

In the five minutes leading up to the crash, police chased after Morris at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hours, according to the lawsuit.

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The civil suit alleges “negligent acts or omissions” of the Springfield narcotics detectives “caused, or directly contributed to cause, Dana Sowards’ death.”

None of the four officers has an attorney of record, and efforts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Cora Scott, a spokeswoman for the city of Springfield, declined to comment on the suit.

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