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$3M payout in deadly chase among several deals tied to alleged police wrongdoing

Burglaries have been reported in September in Grand Crossing on the South Side.
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Chicago taxpayers will spend $3 million to compensate the family of a 66-year-old man mowed down by a car fleeing Chicago Police during a 2015 pursuit through Greater Grand Crossing that, the victim’s family claims, should have been terminated.

Willie Owens was killed on Aug. 24, 2015 when he was struck by a car driven by 26-year-old Paul Forbes, who blew through a red light and was driving on a suspended license.

A 2015 lawsuit filed by Owens’ daughter, Sharday Johnson, claimed the officers pursuing Forbes for a traffic violation should have ended the pursuit when it reached a densely populated area, putting other lives at risk.

That’s what a revised police pursuit policy requires.

The nearly $3 million settlement, the latest in a costly parade tied to alleged police wrongdoing, is on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee.

Forbes was driving a Pontiac Bonneville when officers pulled him over for a traffic violation about 7:35 p.m. in the 7500 block of South St. Lawrence.

When the officers got out of their vehicle, the Pontiac took off west on 75th Street, ran a red light at 75th and South King Drive, hit a Subaru in the intersection and continued fleeing at a speed of up to 90 mph., according to data obtained from his car’s airbag control module, prosecutors said.

It then hit Owens, who was standing next to a stalled car, which was pushed into a Chevrolet Cruze in front of it, police said.

Owens was tending to the front bumper of his truck, which had become disabled earlier, when he was pinned between the two cars. His leg was severed. The rest of his body was flung 15 feet in the air.

The Chevrolet had two people inside who suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from Jackson Park Hospita, police said.

Two women in the Subaru were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. One of those women, 88-year-old Margaret Silas, was paralyzed in the crash and died. An autopsy found she died of complications of injuries from the crash, and her death was ruled an accident.

Paul Forbes | Chicago Police
Paul Forbes | Chicago Police

Forbes is charged with one count of murder, one count of aggravated fleeing, and two counts of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, all felonies, according to Chicago Police. He was also charged with misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, and was cited for disobeying a red light.

• Also on the agenda for Monday’s Finance Committee meeting is a proposed $500,000 settlement to a family that claims Chicago Police officers and detention aides ignored their 41-year-old father for more than an hour when he passed out and died in the Jefferson Park District lock-up in 2015.

Johnny Lopez was taken to Community First Medical Center to be treated for dog bites he suffered while being arrested for battery shortly after midnight June 2, 2015, in the 4100 block of West Eddy Street, according to arrest records and a lawsuit filed by his daughter, Merary Lopez.

Lopez was released from the hospital, booked about 7:30 a.m. at the Jefferson Park District station at 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave. and placed in his own cell about 1:30 p.m., the suit contends.

Police said Lopez was found unresponsive about 8 p.m.

According to the suit, another arrestee called for help “continuously” when he saw Lopez collapse, but Lopez “was left on the floor of his cell … for over an hour without any medical attention.”

Lockup workers processed two other arrestees, ignored the unconscious Lopez and “did nothing except pass out sandwiches to other inmates,” the suit alleged.

Paramedics tried to revive Lopez, but, he was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:20 p.m.

An autopsy conducted on the day after Lopez’s death was inconclusive, but the death was subsequently ruled accidental. He died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease, with recent cocaine use contributing, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Two other larges settlements — for $4 million and $950,000 — are also on the Finance Committee’s agenda, but the circumstances surrounding those settlements were not known.