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Police Misconduct Costs Chicago Taxpayers Millions of Dollars

In December 2011, the Chicago City Council Finance Committee approved payments of more than $3 million to settle two lawsuits arising from the deaths of individuals held in custody by the Chicago Police Department. The Committee also approved payments totaling $850,000 to settle two other lawsuits alleging police misconduct.

Alderman Edward Burke, a former police officer who now heads the Finance Committee, expressed dismay at what he described as "a pattern that is very troubling." Burke was referring to allegations that, in the two cases which resulted in death, the police had ignored obvious signs of medical distress.

In the first of those cases, Patricia Cobige, 46, died in June 2006 after repeatedly complaining of feeling ill. Although she requested help, she did not receive any. Her death was later determined to have been caused by a pre-existing heart condition. The case settled for more than $2 million.

In November 2008, Rafe McMullan Jr., 52, died after screaming and yelling for medical assistance, to no avail. When he was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell, he had been dead for at least two hours. The case settled for $1 million.

In October 2006, police officers pulled Daniel Casares, a 26-year-old paraplegic, from his car, then allegedly punched and kicked him and stepped on his head. They arrested and handcuffed his pregnant sister Karina when she tried to intervene. The case settled for $290,000.

The Finance Committee recommended a settlement of $560,000 to Iraq war veteran Frank Craig, who was mistakenly pursued and arrested for armed robbery after a Chicago Police detective had (according to a federal judge) "falsely testified before a grand jury." Source: Hal Dardick, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 12, 2011.

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