A City Council panel suggested Monday that Chicago compensate $6.45 million to families of the two men who died in custody—one after the police proceeded to forcefully drag him from his cell, the other had a fatal asthma attack and was refused medical attention from police.
In a hearing, the council’s finance committee voted to settle the two lawsuits after the fact by the city’s top attorney that included allegations that officers ignored the pleas of the parents of one of the men and taunted the other man shortly before he died.
Members of the council, who have watched the city pay out more than $660 million in police misconduct cases since 2004, wondered why these situations were so frequent, despite the fact that these cases cost so much money. “This is a travesty,” Alderman Anthony Beale said.
Philip Coleman, charged with allegedly attacked his mother, was shot with a stun gun and handcuffed before they dragged him by his hands from his holding cell — luckily, this was caught on video. The city released the video just days after it was forced to release the video of a white police officer shooting a black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him. Patton said the medical examiner, after thorough analysis, determined that Coleman died at the hospital from a reaction to an anti-psychotic drug given to him by a doctor.
City Council members were infuriated after hearing Patton describe the last moments of Justin Cook. Arrested after a chase in which a gun was recovered, Patton said officers refused Cook’s pleas to be allowed to use his inhaler. One witness, he said, even contested the officer’s argument that he sprayed the contents of the inhaler into Cook’s mouth, saying that the officer instead “sprayed it in the air” and said he should have thought of his asthma before he tried to run away. Another witness, he said, told of how an officer held the inhaler in front of Cook and asked, “Is this what you want?”
Alderman Carrie Austin was repulsed by the behavior of these officers. “Maybe that young man would be alive today if they had a heart,” she said.
Patton said a supervisor arrived shortly after the police had denied him medical assistance, demanding that his inhaler be given to him immediately–fearing his impending death.
Council members agreed with Patton’s recommendation to settle Cook’s family’s lawsuit for $1.5 million.