On Monday, Chicago approved another $4.5 million in settlements related to police wrongdoing.
Over the course of the past fifteen years, the city’s paid close to a billion to settle allegations against its law enforcement agencies and officers. The latest round of approvals was announced Monday by the City Council’s Finance Committee.
The Chicago Sun Times adds that another $4 million will be granted to the estate of a motorcyclist who died after hitting an unfilled pothole.
The largest of the police-related settlements awards $3 million to ‘the families of a 66-year old man and 88-year old woman mowed down by a car fleeing Chicago police during a 2015 pursuit through Greater Grand Crossing.’ The victims’ surviving relatives contend that the chase should have been terminated. Many police departments across the country have policies that end officer-led pursuits when a suspect’s evasive tactics become dangerous, either to the driver or public at large.
Willie Owens and Margaret Silas were both killed on August 24th, 2015, after being struck by a 26-year old man fleeing law enforcement. The suspect, Paul Forbes, blew through a red light while driving on a suspended license and attempting to avoid arrest.
A suit filed in 2015 by Owens’ daughter demanded the city change its pursuit policies to better protect members of the public. Revisions were, according to the Sun Times, recently implemented.
The second lawsuit grants $950,000 to the family of 28-year old Rickey Rozelle, who was shot to death by off-duty Chicago police officer Sgt. John Poulos.
Poulos says he was returning home from a bar when he spotted a man on the balcony of a second-floor apartment, sparking fears of a burglary in progress.
The man, later identified as Rozelle, refused to comply with the officer’s demands. A brief scuffle ensued, during which Poulos hit the suspected burglar with the butt of his service revolver. Shots were fired after Rozelle “took off,” holding a “shiny object that appeared to be a gun.”
No weapon was recovered from the scene.
The last settlement detailed by the Sun Times stems from the in-custody death of Johnny Lopez. The 41-year old father was arrested for battery and detained and “ignored” for hours.
The Lopez family’s suit claims that Johnny’s cellmate called for help “continuously” after the man collapsed. But officers were slow to respond and Lopez “was left on the floor of his cell … for over an hour without any medical attention.”
Jail staff turned a blind eye to Lopez as they processed other inmates, handed out sandwiches and watched baseball.
“The allegations were that, when he was admitted into the luck-up, an adequate search hadn’t been done of him. That fifteen-minute checks weren’t done because the lock-up [employees] were watching the Cubs game,” First Deputy Corporation Counsel Jennifer Notz told Chicago aldermen.
The suits are the latest developments in the city’s ongoing struggle with police misconduct and brutality. Litigation stemming from law enforcement wrongdoing has cost Chicago around $700 million since the early 2000s.
In May, the city awarded $17 million to a local man who’d been framed for murder by a former detective who caused 18 innocent men to be incarcerated.