City approves $4 million payment to family of man killed by police

February 14, 2013 7:28:50 AM PST
The City of Chicago agreed to pay the family of a man shot and killed by a Chicago police officer Wednesday.

Despite the $4 million police misconduct settlement approved Wednesday, when it happened the shooting of the unarmed man was found to be justified.

The settlement is the latest in a series of payouts that has already exhausted a fund set aside for settlements.

With two huge multi-million dollar police misconduct settlements in January, and Wednesday's settlement, the city has now exceeded the $27-million it had budgeted this year for court cases.

Going over budget with litigation costs has happened before but there are a number of other high-profile, potentially costly legal settlements in the works and we're not yet to the middle of February.

What began as a domestic disturbance ended in the death of Flint Farmer.

He was shot seven times by a pursuing police officer who says he thought Farmer had a gun. It was, in reality, a cell phone.

A squad dash camera showed that three of those shots were fired at close range as a wounded Farmer was already on the ground.

Farmer's family sued the city and Officer Gildardo Sierra, and Wednesday the City Council approved a $4 million settlement.

"I'm happy they settled and that his daughter will be taken care of but she'll never get a chance to see her father," the victim's father Emmett Farmer said.

Emmett Farmer and others have demanded that criminal action be taken against officer Sierra who's been on desk duty since the shooting.

Sierra acknowledged that he'd been drinking the night of the Farmer shooting in June 2011.

Three months earlier Sierra - on duty - wounded a man. Two months before that he was involved in another fatal shooting. Between 2005 and 2009, the city says Sierra discharged his weapon four times.

The Chicago Police Department found all his actions justified but even the superintendent has wondered aloud how Sierra was allowed to stay on the street.

"There are many methods for tracking other people's behavior and conduct. Why there isn't a method to track a police officer's history is just galling," Farmer attorney Antonio Romanucci said.

Sierra is assigned to the city's 311 call center where he works criminal background checks for other officers.

Alderman Willie Cochran says that should not be allowed.

"He's sitting at a desk that has that has sensitive information and a criminal investigation is being conducted on him and he shouldn't have access to that kind of information," Cochran said.

The Farmer shooting was referred to the state's attorney's office and the FBI nearly 20 months ago.

"When is this police officer going be arrested? That's the major question here," Emmett Farmer said.

Officer Sierra works the alternative response section at the 311 center but he does not have access to sensitive information and his work is monitored by a supervisor, according to a police department spokesman.

As far as the criminal investigation, the State's Attorney's office says it cannot comment.

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