The Chicago City Council today voted to pay more than $5.4 million to settle three legal cases, including two involving alleged police misconduct.
In the most high-profile case, $4.1 million will be paid to the family of Flint Farmer, an unarmed man who a police officer shot three times in the back two years ago after Farmer already was wounded and down, according to video that was captured.
The council also agreed to pay $145,000 to settle a case filed by Jose Fematt. He was 13 in 2005 when rogue Chicago Police officers handcuffed him and took him hostage in their car, demanding information about the boy’s neighbors, Fematt alleged in a lawsuit filed six years later.
The officers were part of the since-disbanded Special Operations Section. Several SOS officers were convicted of terrorizing numerous residents with home invasions, illegal searches and trumped-up charges, renegade tactics used to pocket thousands of dollars in cash.
In addition, aldermen signed off on a $1.2 million settlement in the case of a beer truck driver injured when his vehicle was rear-ended in 2003 by a Chicago Fire Department truck on Lincoln Avenue at California Avenue.
Driver Peter Schenk, 59, later underwent two back surgeries that he said left him unable to work, according to his lawsuit. He has a spinal cord stimulator to control pain and still suffers from pain and depression as a result of the crash, the suit states.
His medical bills have topped $1.2 million, said Leslie Darling, a top city attorney. “This is a good deal for the taxpayers, since it’s equal to” the medical bills, said Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, when the Finance Committee he leads endorsed the settlements on Monday.
The proposed settlements come just a month after settling for $22.5 million a case filed on behalf of Christina Eilman.
Eilman was in the throes of a bipolar episode in May 2006 when police released the 21-year-old woman into a crime-plagued South Side neighborhood, where she was abducted and sexually assaulted before plummeting from the seventh floor of a vacant apartment in a public housing high-rise. She was left severely physically and mentally disabled.
The city last month also agreed to pay $10.25 million to settle a case brought by Alton Logan, who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. He alleged that notorious police Commander Jon Burge and his so-called midnight crew of detectives hid evidence of his innocence.
The Farmer case involved Officer Gildardo Sierra Sierra, who has been stripped of his police powers and now works at the city’s 311 call center doing criminal background checks for officers on the beat. Sierra was captured on video pumping three shots into Farmer’s back as he lay bleeding on a parkway early on June 7, 2011. In all, he fired 16 rounds, seven of which struck Farmer, Darling said.
Before Farmer’s death, Sierra wounded a 19-year-old man in a March 2011 shooting and fatally shot Darius Pinex, 27, in January 2011. In total, Sierra was involved in seven shooting incidents prior to Farmer, Darling said.
The Farmer shooting has been referred to the FBI and Cook County state’s attorney’s office, Darling added.
Through November of last year, the city paid out nearly $40 million to settle police abuse cases. In the first two months of this year, it has spent more than $38 million. All of the cases go back to the administration of former Mayor Richard Daley.
Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his top attorney, Stephen Patton, has put a priority on settling cases they don’t look winnable before legal expenses pile up.
“Because some individuals create these problems for us, it’s probably best to settle it as quickly as we possibly can and then move on,” Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, said Monday.Copyright © 2015, CT Now