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Jury gives $1 million to man who sued city for false police charges

John Collins his sEdward

John Collins and his son Edward

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Updated: October 26, 2013 6:35AM

A Cook County jury on Tuesday awarded $1 million to a man who spent a year in jail before a jury found him not guilty of assaulting a police officer on the South Side.

John Collins, 42, who sued the city for bringing false charges against him, said it was about receiving justice, not money.

Collins’ saga began in January 2006 when a pal who was giving him a lift parked outside his South Shore home after Collins spent the day cutting hair at a barber shop. A police cruiser pulled behind them, lights flashing, Collins’ attorney, Lawrence Jackowiak said.

Police arrested Collins for no apparent reason and later slapped him around because he wouldn’t stop questioning why he’d been arrested, Collins and Jackowiak said Tuesday.

Police told a different story in court. The arresting officers claimed to have arrested Collins after he was seen drinking in the public way and said that Collins became combative toward the officers.

Collins was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer.

Nearly six years after a jury acquitted Collins of those criminal charges, a jury again sided with him.

“You’ve got to climb a high mountain when you’re challenging police authority and alleging police misconduct,” Jackowiak said.

“I’m thankful for the jury blessing me, but it’s been a long hard road,” Collins said.

Collins’ said he suffered emotional distress while in jail, where he slept on the floor due to overcrowding. During the 385 days he was behind bars, his first son was born.

“I felt like a right in a pool of wrong,” said Collins. “And I didn’t want to swim in the pool no more, but I didn’t want to drown either.”

After being released, he separated from his fiancee, who, Collins said, felt he’d become a different person while in jail.

Collins, who now lives in Dolton, said he plans to spend part of the money awarded to him to help create a bussing system to help loved ones visit people in jail.

Jackowiak said he was seeking $4 million from the city.

“We are disappointed with the verdict in this case,” said Roderick Drew, spokesman for the city’s Law Department. “We will be reviewing all available options, including an appeal,” he said.

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