Chicago taxpayers will pay $2.25 million to an unarmed, developmentally disabled man shot by a Chicago Police sergeant in 2017.
Five months after the Chicago Police Board authorized a six-month suspension for Sgt. Khalil Muhammad, the City Council’s Finance Committee will be asked next week to authorize the settlement for Ricardo Hayes.
Hayes was 18 on Aug. 13, 2017, when he was shot by Muhammad about 5 a.m. in the 10900 block of South Hermosa Avenue on the Far South Side.
“It was an egregious act. He chased down and shot twice a mentally handicapped young man who wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Hayes’ attorney Gabriel Hardy said Thursday.
“There’s a 911 call from the officer. ... He said my client had run up on his car. ... At first he said [Hayes] pulled a gun. But then, he kind of pulled back and said it looked like he was about to pull a gun and he had to shoot. You could see from the video that nothing like that happened.”
According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Hayes, Muhammad was off duty at the time and in his personal vehicle when he saw Hayes running and skipping down the street. The shooting happened just a few hours after Hayes “snuck out of his foster home” and his caretaker had reported him missing, Hardy said.
“He wasn’t doing anything. He didn’t look suspicious. I mean — you take one look at him and you know he has mental handicaps,” the attorney said.
Hayes was shot in the chest and arm, the suit stated. Muhammad eventually caught up with Hayes and ordered him to the ground and called an ambulance, the suit stated.
Hayes was treated at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and released on the same day. But Hardy said his now 21-year-old client has suffered “emotional and psychological damage” requiring “multiple hospitalizations” and “significant ongoing care and treatment.”
In 2018, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability found Muhammad was not justified when he fired the shots and recommended Muhammad be suspended for six months.
The Chicago Police Department agreed and filed administrative charges against the sergeant.
In December, the Police Board approved the six-month suspension, disappointing Hayes’ attorney, who called the punishment “very disappointing but, unfortunately, sadly, not surprising.”
In October, 2018, COPA released a series of videos that directly contradicted the Chicago Police Department’s initial statement that the two men had gotten into an “armed confrontation.”
The security footage from a nearby home shows Hayes running down the sidewalk before stopping near 10947 S. Hermosa. As he stops, Muhammad parks his vehicle in the middle of the street.
No exchange of words can be heard on the video. Hayes can be seen taking four steps onto a parkway and toward Muhammad’s vehicle — but not into the street — before Muhammad opens fire, less than four seconds after he stopped his car. Two gunshots can be heard echoing down the block.
Hayes can then be seen running off. Muhammad exits his car to look for him but returns to the SUV a short time later and drives off.
“Because of the tape, we know what really happened. Without the tape, do we ever really find out what happened? We would have the word of the officer against the word of this young man,” Hardy said, drawing parallels to the infamous video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.
No criminal charges were brought against Muhammad in connection with the shooting. Then-Police Supt. Eddie Johnson subsequently acknowledged no weapon was recovered from Hayes.
Police disciplinary records show Muhammad — who was hired by the CPD in 2000 — has been the subject of eight misconduct complaints. One of those, an operations/personnel violation in 2000, netted him a two-day suspension.
The $2.25 million settlement is one of two on the Finance Committee agenda tied to allegations of police wrongdoing.
The other one, for $300,000, goes to Pierre Green, who spent four years in prison for possession of a stolen vehicle and felony possession of a firearm after a conviction, he claims, was based on evidence “fabricated” by Chicago Police. In 2013, the charges against Green were dismissed.
Another settlement, for $750,000, goes to Artis Aquino, who was injured after his car was hit by a speeding city vehicle driven by Antonio Robinson that blew a red light while both drivers were traveling east on Fullerton Avenue.