Articles Posted in Police Abuse

In this case, Donny McGee alleged that defendants prosecuted him for murder of his elderly next door neighbor based on a fabricated confession. McGee was acquitted in the criminal case, but he spent three years wrongfully incarcerated awaiting his trial. The plaintiffs brought a civil complaint, which included claims of malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the defendants, City of Chicago and police detectives. The jury returned a verdict in favor of McGee of $975,000 plus $110,000 in punitive damages against each individual defendant.

One of the defendants, Detective Lenihan, testified that the plaintiff gave vague answers when being questioned about the crime. Memory lapses were a key issue in the criminal trial. Then McGee testified about being hit in the head while in Mexico although there was testimony from his sister that he had no blackouts or memory losses. The plaintiff did admit that he hit his head while in Mexico, but he denied telling that to the detectives. He also told the detective that he didn’t have blackouts.

Significantly, since memory lapses were an issue in the case. It was learned during the trial by the court’s bailiff that one of the jurors had a document about memory lapses that she had found during an internet search and brought it to the jury room. When the bailiff advised the court, there was an exchange between the judge and the bailiff. The defendants’ lawyer argued to the judge that there was a great risk that the juror did not follow the court’s instructions regarding outside research but yet denied that she brought it into the court when asked by the bailiff. The trial judge asked the parties’ lawyer to submit a memorandum of law on the issue for the next court date.

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A recent appellate court decision involving claims of violations by Chicago police officers has received a lot of media attention because of the severe nature of the resulting injuries suffered by the plaintiff. While the Chicago Police Department claimed that its officers had qualified immunity and could not be held responsible for the harm done to Christina Eilman, the Illinois Appellate Court disagreed. Paine v. Cason, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 8450 (7th Cir. Ill. Apr. 26, 2012).

Paine was brought by the mother of 21 year-old Christina Eilman against the City of Chicago and its police officers regarding the May 2006 arrest of Ellman. Officers were called to respond to a disturbance caused by Ellman as she attempted to board a plane at Chicago’s Midway Airport. Ellman was suffering from mental illness, but had not been taking her medications; as a result she was exhibiting disruptive behavior and needed to be escorted from the airport.

Police initially took Ellman to the 8th District Station, located on 63rd St., but then transferred her to the 2nd District Station, a woman-specific holding facility located on South Wentworth Ave. While at the 2nd District, Ellman was both maniac and calm, exhibiting behaviors typical of her diagnosed bipolar disorder. Despite her obvious mental illness, she was not given any medical treatment or a psychiatric evaluation. Instead, she was released two days after her initial arrest, still in an unstable mental condition.

The accusations in the complaint focus both on the lack of medical care offered while Ellman was in custody and on the manner of her release. Instead of returning Ellman to Midway Airport, or a similarly safe area, she was released directly from the 2nd District Station, which is located near the Robert Taylor Homes, a Chicago public housing project with an extremely high crime rate. In addition, Ellman was released without her cell phone, was scantily clad in short shorts and a bare midriff shirt, and was not in a mental condition that allowed her to appreciate the danger of her situation. Consequently, Ellman wandered into a vacant apartment with several young men, where she was raped at knife point. She then either jumped or was pushed out of a 7-story window, resulting in severe brain damage and other injuries.

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In a case of police brutality, the City Council of Chicago will pay a $525,000 settlement to the family of an autistic boy. Oscar Guzman, a minor, was chased and clubbed by police in a case of mistaken identity. The family sued the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police officers for the physical and mental anguish Oscar sustained.

In 2009, Oscar was watching pigeons in front of his family’s Little Village restaurant when two police officers approached him. According to the police, Oscar matched the description of a suspect they were looking for. When he was unable to answer questions and retreated into the family’s restaurant, the police officers chased him. According to one of the officers, Oscar reached towards his wristband and he walked away, which led them to suspect that he had a gun.

Inside the restaurant, Oscar’s parents tried to explain that Oscar had special needs, that he was autistic, and pleaded with the officers to leave him alone. The officers pushed Oscar’s father out of the way and ignored Oscar’s cries that he was “a special boy.” Oscar was hit on the head with a retractable club and sustained a four-centimeter laceration to his head. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and received stitches.

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