Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is asking city officials to approve nearly $33 million in the settlement of two police misconduct cases, one involving a woman who was sexually assaulted and suffered a permanent brain injury after being released by police into one of the city's toughest neighborhoods.
According to the Chicago Tribune
, a payment of $22.5 million to Christina Eilman, who suffered from a bipolar disorder and was arrested in 2006 for irrational behavior at Midway Airport, is the largest amount ever offered by the city to a single victim of police misconduct.
In a second case, Emanuel is also asking the City Council Finance Committee to approve a $10.2 million payment to Alton Logan, who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit and alleged in a federal lawsuit that police detectives covered up evidence that could have set him free.
The Logan case, which concerns the misconduct of former police commander Jon Burge, would bring the tab on cases involving Burge's detective's unit to $60 million, according to the Tribune. Burge is now serving time in federal prison for lying about torturing suspects.
Eilman's case, however, has drawn particular attention from the media. A 21-year-old UCLA college student at the time of her arrest, the California woman had a breakdown at Midway Airport related to a bipolar disorder and was held overnight, according to the Tribune.
The next day she was released by police at sundown in a South Side section of the city miles away from the airport, where she was originally picked up. A short time later, the Tribune reported, she was abducted and taken to public housing building where she was sexually assaulted. After the assault, she fell from a seventh-floor window, shattering her pelvis, and suffering permanent brain damage.
At the time of her arrest, a female officer contacted her family and was told about her bipolar disorder. Based on that conversation, she was to have been taken to a psychiatric facility for observation but instead ended up in a police station lockup until her release the next evening.
Eilman's case was supposed to go to trial this week after the city had argued for six years that it was not responsible for her injuries, blaming them on a gang member who assaulted her. But a federal appeals court judge blasted that position in a scathing rebuke.
In a recent ruling, which apparently prompted the city to settle, Chief Justice Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals condemned the police department's release of Eilman, a petite white woman, into what he described as a high-crime, predominantly African-American neighborhood, saying officers “might as well have released her into the lion's den at the Brookfield Zoo."
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