Two and a half million dollars was awarded to families of two men whose deaths were tied to allegations of police wrongdoing. You be the judge. Are these awards simply placating the voting base or are these awards designed to punish the police for doing what police are obligated to do?
Award number one: Chicago Police respond to calls of shots fired in the evening around 9:00 p.m. Responding officers observe a vehicle fleeing the area at a high rate of speed. This vehicle was reported stolen and the police initiate a pursuit. The vehicle continues at a high rate of speed, disobeys a red light and strikes another vehicle. This vehicle then careens into a third vehicle and a passenger in the third vehicle is killed immediately.
Police are accused of “recklessly disregarding the safety of others.” Therefore, a Cook County Judge awarded $1.3 million dollars of taxpayers’ money.
The second award for $1.2 million dollars went to the family of a man who died in police custody. He was arrested during the commission of a burglary. He also resisted arrest. He was later observed on police video dashcam “flailing his arms and wriggling his body.” On the scene he was placed in the wagon waiting for an ambulance to transport him to a mental evaluation. He was unresponsive when paramedics arrived and pronounced dead.
After an autopsy, the Cook County Medical Examiner concluded this person died of cocaine and alcohol poisoning with the physical restraint being listed as a contributing cause.
My conclusion: In the first example, this innocent person died because of criminal activity by a second party who was in possession of a stolen vehicle and disregarded traffic laws by fleeing from police officers. Compounding the issue was the emergency response to a shots fired call by these officers. This was a terrible tragedy, but not the cause of the officers. The person to be held civilly and criminally responsible was the man driving the stolen vehicle while fleeing police.
The second incident is even more alarming. A burglar caught in the act resisted a police officer’s legal arrest; he was observed to be in a drug induced state and eventually succumbed from overloading his system with cocaine and alcohol. During the resisting portion of the arrest, arresting officers restrained this burglar.
Two Circuit Court Judges ordered $2.5 million to two families because of police negligence. I’m sorry I heartedly disagree. I don’t see negligence by the police. I see bureaucrats feeding fellow bureaucrats. I see negligence at the highest level in the criminal justice system—lawyers enriching lawyers, politicians buying political favor with taxpayers’ money. And, as usual, the taxpayers pay and the police are used once again as pawns.
To all my brothers and sisters in blue, lock and load and protect each other. And as always, stay safe.
– Larry Casey
View Larry Casey’s website at www.StoriesofaChicagoPoliceOfficer.com and review his book by the same name. It makes a great inexpensive gift.
(Feature image: Flickr)