The Town of Cicero has settled a 5-year-old lawsuit over a fatal shooting by a police officer with a troubled past for $3.1 million.
Lawyers for the family of Cesar Munive have alleged the town never should have hired Officer Donald Garrity, who they say shot Munive while he was unarmed in July 2012. They say Garrity lied about being forced to resign from a previous police job in Berwyn, and they say he helped plant a gun to justify Munive’s death.
But neither side is admitting any liability in the settlement, according to a copy of the agreement filed in federal court Wednesday. The town insists Munive “was a bad guy,” and Garrity’s lawyer says another officer is alive today thanks to Garrity.
The settlement still needs the blessing of U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso, who is scheduled to hear from the lawyers next week. The settlement agreement also requires the town to pay $400,000 in attorneys’ fees. A trial set for last July was canceled when the judge was told about the pending deal, records show.
“Cesar Munive was a known member of the Latin Counts Street Gang operating in Cicero,” Town spokesman Ray Hanania wrote in a statement. “He was a convicted felon on parole and was known to carry a weapon. Munive was a bad guy, destructive to the community who had threatened to kill people many times. Munive was a registered sex offender.”
Hanania and Garrity lawyer Craig Tobin said the town’s insurance company pushed for the settlement, even though both said they wanted to take the case to trial. Tobin said the Illinois State Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office found Munive’s fatal shooting to be justified.
Garrity has left the Cicero Police Department and is on disability, Tobin said.
Meanwhile, the Sun-Times and the Better Government Association reported in July the gun found at the scene turned out to be a firearm that once belonged to the late father of Cook County Judge William Stewart Boyd. The judge turned it over to the Chicago Police Department eight years before Munive’s death as part of a buyback program meant to get weapons off the street, according to the BGA.
Garrity worked as a cop in Berwyn in January 2008, when records show he was clocked going nearly 90 mph in a 30 mph zone after closing down a late-night bar in North Riverside. Police stopped him on the Cermak Avenue bridge and drew their guns before he eventually got out of his car and identified himself as a cop. Later, he demanded the North Riverside police chief’s phone number.
After joining the force in Cicero, Garrity and two other officers answered a call on July 5, 2012, about a fight near 14th Street and 56th Court, according to the lawsuit. They spotted Munive on their way and began to chase him in their car. Garrity eventually got out of the car and ran after Munive. Then, near 13th Street and 57th Avenue, Garrity shot Munive in the back, lawyers for the Munive family alleged.
In doing so, Tobin said Garrity saved the life of another police officer, Dominic Schullo.
“[Garrity] being a police officer that day was a godsend to the Schullo family,” Tobin said. “That’s the only reason Dominic Schullo’s alive today.”