Judge declares mistrial in lawsuit over 2011 police shooting

SHARE Judge declares mistrial in lawsuit over 2011 police shooting

Chicago Police | Sun-Times file photo

A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday evening in the case of a man who sued the city — seeking $5 million — because he was shot as a teenager by a Chicago Police officer.

Eleven jurors voted to award an unspecified amount of money to Derquann Wilson, who was shot by Officer Sajit Walter in 2011, but a single holdout juror led to the mistrial.

Wilson’s attorney, Craig Sandberg, said he would seek a retrial as soon as possible.

Wilson was 15 when he was riding in the front passenger seat of a Chevy Malibu, and two marked police cars — one in front and one in back — pulled the vehicle over in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

Walter, moments after approaching the car, fired five shots into the vehicle, striking Wilson in the front passenger seat in his hand and upper back. Wilson nearly died and lost a finger. The passenger sitting behind Wilson, Jermaine Henry, also was hit.

Walter fired in fear of his life as the car came at him as the driver tried to flee, his attorney, Julian Johnson, said during closing arguments Tuesday.

Walter also fired at Henry because he pointed a gun at him from the back seat, Johnson said.

The car crashed a few blocks away. No gun was ever found. But a small novelty gun-shaped cigarette lighter was found on Henry.

Sandberg said that the fact that Henry happened to be carrying a lighter shaped like a gun was “fortune smiling on police” because it was the basis for their “enormous coverup.”

Surrounded by police cars and flashing lights, why would would anyone brandish a fake gun, Sandberg asked jurors.

“That’s preposterous,” Sandberg said, suggesting that Walter may have fired because he was angry because the driver of the car fled and didn’t follow his orders.

Johnson said the plaintiff’s attorney was trying to distract jurors from focusing on key discrepancies between Wilson’s deposition testimony and what he told jurors at trial.

While being deposed, Wilson said the officer who approached the vehicle was white and said the traffic stop occurred down the block from where it actually took place. Walter is of Indian ancestry.

Sandberg attributed Wilson’s lack of recollection to being in shock while clinging to life after being shot.

He also claimed that Walter broke a police regulation by shooting at a fleeing vehicle that didn’t pose a danger to him, and pointed to a bullet that pierced a tail-light as evidence.

Johnson said that it’s unfortunate Wilson was shot, but he chose to hang out with friends who made bad decisions.

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