Aldermen will consider $3.2 million in police settlements and two police reform ordinances in the Finance Committee Monday, with both reform ordinances backed by Chairman Ed Burke (14). One item requires the head of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) appear before the committee when police settlements are requested by Corporation Counsel. IPRA’s current head, Sharon Fairley, would have to provide committee members a written status report “on any and all investigations involving department members who are named parties to said lawsuits or controverted claims.”
The ordinance is sponsored by Burke (14), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6). Both items were introduced last month, just after Ald. Burke lamented the deaths of two men in Chicago Police custody. Aldermen approved two settlements totaling $6.5 million to the families of both men–one who was repeatedly tasered in police custody, the other who died after an asthma attack.
The other ordinance, sponsored by Burke, Ald. Carrie Austin (34), Public Safety Chair Ariel Reboyras (30), and Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27), would require the Police Superintendent to refer all cases involving the death of a suspect in custody to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
According to the ordinance, an “officer involved-death” includes any death that results directly from “an action or directly from an intentional omission, including unreasonable delay involving a person in custody or intentional failure to seek medical attention when the need for treatment is apparent.” Any police-involved death that occurs while an officer is off duty would fall under this rule, as well, if that officer was “performing activities that are within the scope of his or her law enforcement duties.” The ordinance would take effect upon passage.
Aldermen are set to vote on a $2.2 million settlement to the family of Emmanuel Lopez, who was killed by police at a traffic stop. His aunt, Ana Lopez-Cervin, initially sought $20 million in damages. Lopez, an illegal immigrant, was shot 16 times at the stop in 2006. The officers, according to the Chicago Tribune, said they fired at Lopez’s car only after he drove into an officer and trapped him under his bumper. Lopez’s family said the ballistics and tire tracks on the officer’s pants didn’t support their claim.
A $1 million settlement is also up for committee consideration, to the mother of a Ryan Rogers, who was shot once and killed by a CPD officer in 2013. Rogers’ girlfriend told CBS Chicago she and Rogers were getting in their car on 171st street in East Hazel Crest to get something to eat, and were approached by undercover officers in plain clothes. Rogers’ girlfriend said he believed they were being robbed, and tried to drive away. Officers said they opened fire in fear for their lives.