Lawyers for the city of Chicago have agreed to pay $1.25 million to the family of an unarmed South Side man who was fatally shot in the back by a cop.
Jamaal Moore Sr., 23, was killed by Ofc. Ruth Castelli at the end of a high speed chase through the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Dec. 15, 2012.
Castelli said she believed Moore had a gun — though only a flashlight was recovered from the scene, and Moore’s lawyers deny he was holding even that when Castelli shot him twice at point-blank range.
The shooting provoked immediate outrage, sparking angry clashes during which a crowd fought with police at the corner of Ashland and 55th.
And Moore’s family sued the city and several officers, including Castelli, alleging they were repeatedly called the n-word when they arrived at the scene.
The city denied those accounts, maintaining Castelli had been in fear of her and her partner’s life when she fired.
But after U.S. District Judge James Holderman in May said video footage from a police dash cam of the shooting contradicted parts of the police account, allowing the suit to move forward, the city in July agreed to a tentative $1.25 million settlement with Moore’s family.
The City’s Council’s finance committee is expected to rubber-stamp that deal, which contains no admission of wrongdoing, at a meeting Monday.
The Moore family’s attorney, Vic Henderson, declined to comment Friday, citing the upcoming vote.
Moore, who was engaged and had an infant son, was suspected of stealing TVs from the back of a semitrailer at 38th and Kedzie, and of another attempted robbery from a second truck at 54th and Western on the day of his death.
The high-speed chase that led to his death began when Castelli and her partner, Ofc. Chris Hackett, tried to stop a silver Chevrolet Trailblazer with temporary Indiana plates in which Moore was riding, and which matched the description of the vehicle police say was used in the robberies.
The weaving chase through traffic and several red lights ended when the Trailblazer crashed at 55th and Ashland. Three other men in the SUV fled on foot, but Castelli and Hackett’s squad car hit Moore as he tried to escape.
After Moore crawled out from under the front of the squad car, the dash cam captured a struggle during which Hackett tried to cuff Moore but was flipped over Moore’s back as Moore stood up, Holderman wrote in his May ruling.
At that point, Castelli says she believed she saw a gun in Moore’s hand as he faced her with his hands in a “C” formation, that she shouted “Gun, gun!” and fired two shots, killing Moore.
But Holderman wrote that the video showed Moore attempting to flee when he was shot, and that Moore does not place his hands into a “C” formation until after he was shot.
Though the video does not reveal whether Castelli shouted “Gun!” or whether Moore was holding anything, two witnesses said he was unarmed and Hackett testified he did not see any weapon, Holderman noted.
Police said they found the flashlight under Moore’s body after he was shot.
Holderman did not rule on the credibility of claims from Moore’s sister Jaceta Smith, and mother Gwendolyn Moore, that police officers later directed the n-word at them at the scene.
Smith had alleged an officer told her her brother was “just another n—– dead,” and “why don’t you n—— go spend that welfare check?”
Moore’s mother said the same officer told her “you n—— ain’t s—.”
The alleged language was “racist and offensive,” but it didn’t meet the legal standard of “extreme and outrageous,” Holderman wrote.
CPD spokesman Martin Maloney declined to comment did not immediately respond to questions about the settlement Friday except to say Castelli is still employed as a police officer.