Council approves settlement for unarmed man shot by officer
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter email@example.com February 13, 2013 12:18PM
Updated: March 15, 2013 1:21PM
Chicago taxpayers took it on the chin — or rather, in the wallet — again Wednesday one month after shelling out $33 million to settle two high-profile cases of police misconduct, including the largest pay-out in history to a single plaintiff.
This time, a $4.1 million settlement approved by the City Council will go to the family of Flint Farmer, an unarmed, 29-year-old man fatally shot by a Chicago Police officer in June 2011 while lying on the ground in a fetal position.
Chicago Police officer Gildardo Sierra had been drinking before reporting for work, but the Police Department waited more than five hours after the shooting to test him for alcohol.
“The drinking was something we discovered at a later point in time. That played into the settlement, but I don’t think that was a major reason for the value,” Steven Muslin, an attorney representing the Farmer family, told the Chicago Sun-Times last week.
“It was the actions of the officer in depriving him of his constitutional rights and his life. Police allegedly shot a young man when he was laying in the fetal position after the police had been called to respond to a domestic battery. Mr. Farmer was unarmed at all times.”
After being confronted about beating his girlfriend and her3-year-old daughter, Farmer allegedly ran across the street, put his hands in his pockets and pulled out a dark object that turned out to be a cell phone.
Police shot Farmer in the abdomen and thigh. Sierra was subsequently captured on a squad car video walking up to Farmer while he was lying on the ground and firing the last three shots that killed Farmer at point-blank range.
Farmer was involved in several on-duty shootings, at least one of them fatal, before Farmer’s death.
Last month, Chicago aldermen agreed to shell out nearly $33 million to settle two egregious cases of police misconduct.
The largest of the two settlements — $22.5 million — went to Christina Eilman, a mentally-ill California woman who was arrested at Midway Airport in 2006, held overnight in a South Side lock-up, 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 CHA high-rise.
The remaining $10.25 million was awarded 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 Commander Jon Burge.
The city is insured only against catastrophic claims exceeding $15 million. The uninsured portion of the two settlements will eat up all but $2 million of the $27.3 million that Mayor Rahm Emanuel 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.
At the time, aldermen were told that three more cases in settlement talks could result in multimillion dollar pay-outs.
“We’re gonna continue to have ugly cases, but we’ll just have fewer of them,” said Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton, referring to a backlog of unresolved police misconduct cases left behind by former Mayor Richard M. Daley.