Lawsuit: Doctor said injuries from collision with CPD cruiser led to death of mentally ill woman

Martina Standley died a month after she was released from a rehabilitation hospital following crash that caused traumatic brain injury.

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Lawyers for the family of a mentally ill woman who died two months after she was struck by a Chicago Police Department cruiser four years ago have added a wrongful death claim to a lawsuit against the department.

Martina Standley was never the same after she was struck by a CPD cruiser in 2019, when witnesses reported her skull hit the pavement with such force that it sounded like a gunshot, said Andrew M. Stroth, attorney for Standley’s family.

Her family filed a lawsuit days after the crash, while Standley still was in intensive care. Last week, a wrongful death claim was added to the case, citing testimony from one of Standley’s doctors in a deposition requested by lawyers for the city.

Standley spent months in the hospital and in intensive physical therapy but was unable to live independently due to a traumatic brain injury, Stroth said. Standley spent a week in the hospital and then another month at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. She died a month after she was released from Shirley Ryan of “lethal arrhythmia and suspected stroke.”

“Martina never recovered, she suffered persistent headaches and couldn’t function like she had done for her whole life,” Stroth said. “Now, the city of Chicago and police department, and taxpayers, are liable for the death of Martina Standley.”

A Law Department spokeswoman said the city does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit names Chicago Police Officer Brian Greene as the driver of the SUV that struck Standley, who had approached Greene’s cruiser in the 2000 block of East 71st Street in the South Shore neighborhood on Nov. 13, 2019.

Citing surveillance video, the lawsuit states Standley, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was suffering a “mental health crisis” and had walked up to Greene’s SUV 10 seconds before he drove into her. The lawsuit says Greene violated departmental rules for interacting with people with obvious mental health issues and use of force, both issues that were noted as problems within CPD in a federal investigation that led to court oversight of the department.

Body-worn camera footage shows Standley alongside the stationary SUV as she touches the spotlight on the passenger side of the vehicle, then Greene apparently swerving the truck into Standley. There is no sound in the portion of the video until after Greene exits the vehicle, but the officer can later be heard telling fellow officers who arrived at the scene Standley had been “banging” on his SUV.

The sound does pick up as Greene climbs out of the SUV after Standley topples from view. As Greene steps around the front of the cruiser to see Standley laying flat on her back, unconscious, he says, “Girl, ain’t nobody hit you like that.” Taking a closer look at the unconscious Standley and the pool of blood spreading from behind her head, Greene says “Oh, s---. F---.”

Talking to other officers, Greene can be heard saying the vehicle had been in reverse.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has not yet completed its investigation of the incident, and Greene is not currently facing any discipline from the department, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Board said.

The civil lawsuit is set to go to trial in October in Cook County Circuit Court, Stroth said.

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