Chicago spent more than $113 million on police misconduct lawsuits in 2018
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The city of Chicago paid more than $85 million last year to settle police misconduct lawsuits and another $28 million to private attorneys to defend City Hall in those cases, records show.
The $113 million-plus total is more than in any year since at least 2011, according to an analysis by The Chicago Reporter of data from the city’s law department.
The payout last year is more than what the city paid in the previous two years combined and brings Chicago taxpayers’ tab for police misconduct to well over half a billion dollars in the past eight years.
There were several high-profile cases settled last year, including $16 million paid to the family of Bettie Jones, shot and killed by Officer Robert Rialmo in December 2015.
Among the other payouts last year: $15 million to the families of two men killed by off-duty detective Joseph Frugoli in a 2009 drunk-driving accident; $9.5 million to the family of Jose Lopez, gravely injured when Chicago police officers used a Taser on him in 2011; and $3.5 million to the mother of Niko Price, fatally shot by former Officer Marco Proano in 2011.
There were also multimillion-dollar payments last year in several wrongful-conviction lawsuits, including $9.3 million to James Kluppelberg, who was released after nearly 25 years in prison for an arson he says he confessed to after being tortured by police Cmdr. Jon Burge’s notorious “Midnight Crew,” $4 million to two men wrongfully convicted of a 1992 double murder and $3.5 million in the case of Patrick Hampton, who was released after 20 years in prison for sexual assault after his conviction was thrown out as a result of claims that detectives fabricated and withheld evidence.
The number of police cases for which the city paid settlements was down slightly from the previous years.
Still, the number of lawsuit payouts by City Hall for police misconduct came to nearly one every two days, on average. Most of them were in the tens of thousands of dollars, with a median payout of $50,000 and the smallest for $500.
The $113 million doesn’t include cases of property damage, minor car accidents, vehicle pursuits or employment-discrimination lawsuits.
The cost is more than five times what the city budgeted for police lawsuits last year.
The sum also does not include the cost of private attorneys City Hall hired to represent the city in negotiations over a federal consent decree that will govern police reform efforts for years. In 2017 and 2018, the city paid more than $4.2 million to outside lawyers involved in the consent decree and related lawsuits.
Last month, a federal judge formally approved the consent decree and appointed a monitor to oversee its implementation. The monitor is expected to cost the city $2.85 million a year.