Federal judge sides against family of Chicago police officer who died in fellow officer’s home

U.S. District Judge Martha Pacold focused primarily on the question of whether the officer, Ruby Falcon, committed suicide. The judge wrote that there was not enough evidence to find otherwise.

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Chicago Police Officer Ruby Falcon.

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A federal judge sided Wednesday against the family of a Chicago police officer who died of a gunshot wound in July 2016, ruling in a lawsuit that the officer’s off-duty death was “a terrible tragedy,” but evidence was insufficient that she had not committed suicide.

Ruby Falcon had joined Officer Danielle Deering and another colleague at two Chicago-area bars the night of July 29, 2016 — and into early July 30 — before Falcon and Deering went to Deering’s home to meet up with other co-workers, according to court records.

There, Deering sent her colleagues to the basement while she went to gather beers from the kitchen and make up a bed. While she was in the kitchen, Deering also put her off-duty weapon and holster on the kitchen counter, records show.

That’s when Falcon entered the room and purportedly asked Deering about the co-worker who had joined them at the bars. Deering insisted she was not in the home. Falcon told Deering not to lie, put Deering’s gun to her head and pulled the trigger, according to court records.

Falcon’s family wound up suing Deering for negligence and battery. The family also filed claims against the owners of the two bars — VPEN Inc., which owns 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, and Alsip Restaurant and Lounge Inc., which owns Bar 122 in Alsip.

U.S. District Judge Martha Pacold on Wednesday granted motions for summary judgment by Deering and the two bar owners, focusing primarily on the question of whether Falcon committed suicide. The judge wrote that there was not enough evidence to find otherwise, as the family had primarily only offered evidence “that Falcon was a generally happy person.”

That conclusion led Pacold to rule the negligence claims against Deering could not stand. Nor could the claims against the bar owners, which had been sued under the Illinois Dram Shop Act.

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