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Chicago Driver Awarded $319,464 for Police Red Light Violation Crash

An Illinois jury awarded a Chicago man $319,464 for injuries he sustained when a Chicago police officer ran a red light, t-boning his vehicle.

On October 26, 2005, Melvin Conway, 43, was driving home from the Chicago, Illinois, furniture store he co-owned. As he traveled through an intersection, a police car driven by Officer Michael Carroll ran a red light, plowing into Conway's driver-side door. The force of the impact pushed Conway's vehicle into an adjacent vacant lot.

Unable to move or open his mangled door, Conway remained trapped inside his vehicle. Instead of assisting him, police approached his vehicle with guns drawn and handcuffed Conway to his vehicle's door frame.

The fire department had to use the Jaws of Life to extract Conway from the vehicle. Police refused to remove the handcuffs until paramedics said they could not help Conway while handcuffed.

Conway sustained a fractured femur, requiring emergency surgery to replace an intramedullary rod, at a cost of $24,405. While at the hospital awaiting surgery, police issued Conway a citation for running a red light, even though several witnesses at the scene reported that Officer Carroll ran the red light and caused the crash.

Conway was ultimately found not guilty of the charge following a bench trial. He then brought suit in state court, alleging negligence, false arrest and malicious prosecution.

After Conway rejected a $15,000 settlement offer, a jury trial was held. The defense asserted that Conway ran the red light. Eyewitnesses testified in support of each party's version of the accident. The defense also argued that police had probable cause to arrest and handcuff Conway for the red light violation.

The jury deliberated less than three hours before returning a verdict for Conway. The jury awarded him $50,000 on the false arrest claim and $299,405 on the negligence claim. The negligence award was ultimately reduced ten percent to $269,464, for a total award of $319,464. Conway was represented by attorney Rahsaan A. Gordon. See: Conway v. City of Chicago, Case No. 11L-3716 (Cook Cty 2015).

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Related legal case

Conway v. City of Chicago