Another $11.7M added to mountain of settlements tied to police misconduct
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Throw another $11.7 million on the mountain of legal settlements tied to misconduct allegations against Chicago Police officers. The agenda for Monday’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee includes three more costly settlements.
The largest of the three — for $10.5 million — will go to Lewis Gardner and Paul Phillips. Gardner was 15 at the time of his arrest. Phillips was 17.
Both men were wrongfully convicted of a 1992 double murder in Chicago. They were both sentenced to 30 years in prison and served half that time before their convictions were overturned because the case against them hinged on confessions that turned out to be false.
Eight men were charged with the double murder — even though only four of them were accused of going inside the apartment near Clarendon Park and committing the crime.
Gardner and Phillips allegedly stayed outside and served as lookouts.
The case fell apart when co-defendant Daniel Taylor produced records showing that he had been arrested two hours before the double murder and was in a police lockup at Addison and Halsted until more than an hour after murders were committed.
In all, the convictions were based on seven false confessions. The eighth man is still serving a life sentence.
The second settlement — for $800,000 — could turn out to be more controversial, at least with the Fraternal Order of Police, even though it’s smaller.
That’s because the recipient, the Rev. Catherine Brown, was accused of the attempted murder of a police officer, only to be acquitted.
Brown says she was attacked by police in 2013 while her kids were in the car after she nearly crashed into an oncoming squad car while driving through an alley to get to her own driveway, which was blocked by police.
After one of the officers forced her door open, Brown drove backward out of the alley. The squad car chased and rammed into her.
In a 2016 interview with WBBM-Channel 2, Brown said that one officer got on top of a parked car and pointed a gun at her while another shot her with pepper spray that hit her baby. Dashcam video released by her attorney allegedly showed Brown being taken down and dragged from the car.
Brown told Channel 2 she was “treated like an animal.” She claims the officers “beat me down to my underwear and pulled my skirt off me. . . . They beat me with sticks with their boots in my head.”
She was subsequently charged with attempted murder, only to be acquitted and convicted of the misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct for driving backwards down the alley.
In a September blog post, the FOP called the settlement “another example of the city’s unwillingness to back up Chicago police officers.”
The FOP once again condemned Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration for “settling bizarre and highly suspicious claims of misconduct” against police rather than going to trial despite “new evidence of a pattern of corruption in police misconduct lawsuits.”
Aldermen will also be asked to approve a third settlement tied to allegations of police misconduct — for $400,000. Details of that case were not immediately known.
From May 2011 through June 30 of this year, the city paid $738.4 million in settlements and judgments to plaintiffs filing lawsuits and other claims against the city. That’s before the new round of settlements. Of that, $418.3 million stemmed from allegations of police abuse, he said.
Since Emanuel took office, the city has spent $231.4 million on outside attorneys to help litigate and settle lawsuits against the city.