A recent settlement illustrates how an attorney knowledgeable about police misconduct can help suspects who have been mistreated by police receive compensation for injuries caused by misbehaving law enforcement officers. In early April, the city of Chicago announced that it had settled a lawsuit with a man who accused Chicago police of using excessive force against him for $4.9 million.
The Philip Coleman Lawsuit
In the lawsuit filed in federal court, the family of a deceased man recounted how in 2012 he died shortly after he was taken into custody by Chicago police officers following a mental health episode at home. An autopsy discovered that the man’s entire body was covered in bruises and he had experienced severe physical trauma.
A video of the man’s time in Cook County jail soon came to light, showing how he was dragged from his cell, Tasered repeatedly, and beaten with a baton by a Chicago police officer. The officer’s supervisor did nothing to stop what a federal judge called unnecessary “brute force.”
In depositions, other officers who witnessed the incident stated that the officer’s supervisor could have easily ordered the use of brute force stopped, and that the man could have easily been carried out of his cell, rather than dragged out.
With the introduction of uncontroverted video evidence showing Chicago police badly beating this man with provocation, the city saw no choice but to settle the case for nearly $5 million rather than risk a lawsuit where a jury award could have potentially been even higher.
A Victory for Opponents of Police Misconduct
Winning a civil victory over Illinois police is not easy, as officers have “qualified immunity” that requires plaintiffs show that any injury caused by the police wasn’t just negligent, but “willful and wanton conduct.” This means showing that the conduct of the police could not have possibly served any need to protect the public.
The case resulting in a $4.9 million verdict for a man who died while in the custody of the Chicago Police Department was one such clear case of willful and wanton conduct, as the video evidence showed. Many other cases of police misconduct are not nearly as egregious, but the fact remains that any injury caused by police officers who are in dereliction of their duties should be compensated. This latest case shows that with more attention than ever paid to police misconduct in Chicago, the city is now more willing to settle these cases.
Need Legal Help?
Holding police liable for misconduct is not easy. The department, police union, and the city behind them will do everything in their power to stand up for officers and fight allegations that police broke the law. But this recent case out of Chicago shows that with an attorney knowledgeable about civil rights on your side, you can be compensated for damages sustained as a result of police misconduct. For more information, contact the Chicago offices of Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.