Story Pitch: Why is Chicago Paying out Millions in Police Settlements?

In 2014 Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Officer Jason Van Dyke. The mother was promised a settlements of 1 million per shot (16 shot) now the questions is, how much did the family really get from the settlement? This raises the question, what is the process of a settlement? The $5 million paid to McDonald’s family was unusual, because it was given without a lawsuit being filed. Police misconduct and brutality cases are leading to huge payouts of settlements along with lack of prosecution. According to the Better Govt Association (BGA), throughout the last 12 years, the City of Chicago has paid out a great number of settlements. The total paid out by the city in police misconduct cases is $641,780,521 since 2004. Settlements cover misconduct-related cases, legal judgments, legal fees and other costs, according to the BGA, “more than 450 police misconduct lawsuits remain pending against the city, many of them high profile and potentially costly.” Jonathan Guzman was an 18-year-old male who was harassed by the police several times and he filed a lawsuit settlement for $35,000. Another case is the $8.5 million settlement paid to the family of Aaron Harrison, an 18-year-old who was fatally shot in the back by a Chicago police officer in 2007 in North Lawndale.

The city initially fought Harrison’s case but then paid out.

We will write text to go along with a video piece, use graphs to show timeline/trends. Invisible Institute has settlement docs, we can use to research police misconduct. We will talk to a few sources from BGA, private, public lawyers and Chicago reporters.

 

Here is a statement from Mayor Emanuel and from the City’s Law Department:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2699840-From-the-Mayor-S-Press-Office.html

By Ronald Reese, Johnny Thrower and Martin Macias

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