UPDATED at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday with comment from County Council meeting
JENNINGS — Akeelah "Ke Ke" Jackson, 12, died early Tuesday from injuries she suffered Oct. 14 after a St. Louis County police SUV struck her as police say the officer was trying to catch up to a suspicious vehicle.
An attorney for Akeelah's family said the girl died at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Louis Children's Hospital. The attorney, Robert Merlin, said the family would not be making a comment.
Akeelah has been in critical condition since she was struck at about 5:45 p.m. while crossing the street in the 8900 block of Halls Ferry Road near Halls Ferry Circle in Jennings. Bystanders said the county police officer was chasing a car when she was hit, and that it did not have its lights or siren on.
St. Louis County police spokesman Sgt. Benjamin Granda issued this brief statement Tuesday: "The news of Akeelah’s death is heart-breaking. She and her family will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers."
Granda also said the department's Bureau of Professional Standards continues to investigate the officer’s actions. The unidentified officer remains a member of the County Police Department, where he has been for four years, Granda said. The officer, 25, is "cooperating with the investigation," Granda said.
The St. Louis Police Department is investigating the accident because it happened just inside the city's border.
The St. Louis County Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday had a moment of silence for Akeelah — but Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, D-5th District, said it wasn't enough.
"I think we need some answers from our police department and I'm disappointed," Clancy said as she choked back tears. "I don't think Chief Belmar is here and I don't know if there is anyone who is here to speak for him, but I would like to know why this happened and what's going to happen going forward to make sure that this tragedy never happens again."
In a previous news story after the incident, Granda confirmed that the police SUV did not have its sirens or emergency lights on because it was "attempting to close the gap," between him and a car it was trying to stop. The car was a black Camaro that was acting suspiciously at a BP gas station near Halls Ferry Circle, where the officer patrols. The license plate did not match the Camaro. The vehicle sped away from him southbound along Halls Ferry Road, and the officer tried to catch up to it to conduct a traffic stop when it struck Akeelah, Granda said.
The police SUV that hit the child has a dash camera. But it was not turned on because officers haven't been trained to use it, Granda said.
All of the department's fleet will get the cameras, the department has said. But their rollout will be done in phases, Granda said on Tuesday, with completion expected by the end of March. They were part of a package that the department bought to equip its officers with body cameras earlier this year.
But the police SUV has technology that lets the department check speed and other factors. Granda said "the data is consistent with the involved officer's statement."
The posted speed limit along that stretch of road is 30 mph, and the officer's maximum speed was 59 mph. It's not clear how fast the officer was driving when he hit the child, Granda said.
From start to finish, the officer chased the Camaro for 32 seconds and covered a quarter of a mile.
Her family held a prayer vigil about a week after the accident near where she was struck. Her father, Rob Jackson, said then that his daughter showed some signs of brain activity and had a tear roll out of her eye when he was talking to her.
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this story.