Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chicago To Pay $33 Million To Settle Two Police Misconduct Cases

The size of the legal settlements the City of Chicago has been paying out to settle police misconduct cases is simply staggering. The torture cases involving former police commander Jon Burge, who was convicted for his role in forcing confessions from dozens of suspects through torture methods, have proven the most costly to date overall. The city council is currently reviewing approval of a $10.2 million settlement to Alton Logan, who spent 26 years is prison for a murder he did not commit after Burge used torture to force a confession from him, in addition to the millions already paid out to victims. The largest settlement in city history, however, is about to be paid out to the family of a mentally ill woman, who was raped and beaten after being released from police custody.

Christina Eilman's case reportedly may be settled for $22.5 million. Eilman is a 21-year old California woman who suffered a mental breakdown at Midway Airport. Instead of taking her to a hospital for mental evaluation, she was taken to a police lock-up and held overnight. Police released her the following evening in one of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. Confused and unfamiliar with her surroundings, the woman was abducted and taken to a Chicago housing project where she was raped and tossed from a seventh floor window. Miraculously, she survived the fall but sustained a traumatic brain injury that has left her permanently disabled. Chicago city police initially denied liability, blaming the injuries she sustained on the city's notorious gangs. In a stinging rebuke, Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals equated the release of the mentally ill Eilman into a crime-ridden neighborhood to releasing "her into the lion's den at the Brookfield Zoo."

The Eilman settlement would top the largest settlement paid by the city for police misconduct to date. That record has belonged to the family of Latanya Haggerty, who was mistakenly shot and killed by police. Her family received a settlement of $18 million. At this rate, a person's chance of winning a multi-million dollar pay out from the City of Chicago for police misconduct is greater than striking it rich from buying a winning lottery ticket.

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