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Parents of victim condemn ‘uncaring’ cops as council OKs $32 million in settlements

Updated: February 19, 2013 3:03PM

The parents of a mentally ill California woman awarded a $22.5 million settlement on Thursday condemned the “insensitive and uncaring” Chicago Police officers who ignored their daughter’s “desperate need for help and placed her in harm’s way.”

Kathleen and Richard Paine broke their silence about the 2006 incident that left their daughter with devastating brain injuries, a shattered pelvis and broken bones, minutes after the City Council approved the largest settlement in Chicago history to a single plaintiff.

Christina Eilman, then 21, was arrested at Midway Airport, held overnight in a South Side lockup, then released in a high-crime neighborhood, where she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted before falling or being pushed from the seventh-floor window of a CHA high-rise.

Police ignored nine calls from her mother, who tried to warn them that her daughter was bipolar, that she might be “having an episode” and that she was unfamiliar with Chicago and should not be released in a strange neighborhood.

“It is a bittersweet victory since no amount of money will bring back the daughter we knew, the lovely young woman who was full of life and accepting of all people,” the Paines said in a statement released by their attorney. “Her life was dramatically changed after she came to Chicago and found herself in the grasp of several insensitive and uncaring police officers and detention aides who humiliated her, directed cruel and insensitive comments toward her, ignored her desperate need for help and placed her in harm’s way.”

The Paines said they’re pleased with the settlement, which will provide their 27-year-old daughter with the around-the-clock care she needs after a legal odyssey that dragged on for 6œ years as the city denied Chicago Police officers were responsible for Eilman’s injuries.

But, they said, “We won’t forget those police officers who seemed to go out of their way to expose our daughter to becoming assaulted and to come so close to death. To those few officers who attempted to help her, we offer our thanks. Still, we will not forget those in command nor those who had the chance to offer assistance and consciously chose not to.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged the irreparable damage done by the egregious case of police misconduct.

The city is insured only against catastrophic claims exceeding $15 million. The uninsured portion of the nearly $33 million in settlements approved Thursday will eat up all but $2 million of the $27.3 million set aside to settle judgments and claims against the city for all of 2013.

The city plans to borrow money to pay excess claims, just as it did to pay nearly $80 million owed to black candidates bypassed by the city’s discriminatory handling of a 1995 firefighters entrance exam.

“Each one of those officers . . . bring shame on all the other responsible police officers who do their job every day. And they have cost the city — not only financially, but its reputation,” Emanuel said. “You could have spent three to four hours hearing every alderman — their outrage over the Burge case and the Eilman case — because I’ve spent hours when I directed the corp counsel to deal with this, put this behind us, settle it at least from a legal standpoint. There are other things that need to be worked on.”

Allegations of failing to properly care for Eilman were sustained against four detention aides and nine police officers. All of them got off with a reprimand.

Asked whether that punishment was sufficient, Emanuel would only say, “I’m gonna deal with that.” He did not elaborate.

The City Council also awarded $10.25 million to Alton Logan, who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he did not commit because of an alleged cover-up engineered by now-convicted former Area 2 Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Before the final vote, African-American aldermen vented their anger once again against Burge, who is sitting in a federal prison in North Carolina after his 2010 conviction of perjury and obstruction of justice.

“The amount of money the taxpayers are paying out — what we could do with that money in our neighborhoods. Look what we could solve — the jobs that could be created,” said Ald. Emma Mitts (37th). “You talk about the silence in the community and our people are saying, what about the silence in the Police Department? I’m not in slavery no more. We’re free. The system shouldn’t have allowed this to happen.”

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) noted that Chicago taxpayers already have shelled out $56 million, $41 million of it to settle Burge cases, $15 million for attorneys’ fees.

“The city continues to pay out for Commander Burge. We’re still paying his pension. When is the city gonna stop being a victim?” Brookins said.

“No wonder Supt. [Garry] McCarthy has such a hard time connecting with the community because there have been years of mistrust. . . . The culture of covering up and aiding people in the department has to stop because it’s hurting the entire city.”

As Chicago taxpayers were opening their collective wallets, a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago recommended a housecleaning and strengthening of the Chicago Police Board — or a democratically elected board — and tougher ethics training for police officers and supervisors to stop systemic police corruption exacerbated by a “blue code of silence.”

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