Chicago has authorized nearly $67M in police misconduct settlement payments so far this year

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel, Ross Weidner and Jonathan Fagg WLS logo
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Chicago authorized nearly $67M in police misconduct payments in 2021
An I-Team analysis: The mammoth cost of claims against Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mistakes and misconduct by city workers result in a staggering payout by Chicago taxpayers every month.

According to the latest available figures, so far this year the City of Chicago has authorized nearly $67 million in settlement payments because of police misconduct. That $67 million, from Chicago taxpayers to cover police mistakes and misconduct, is more than the city is spending on violence prevention programs.

In the past decade, lawsuits against Chicago police have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in jury awards, out of court settlements and other payments to people who say they were wronged by officers. Some high-profile cases resulted in huge payments to victims and survivors.

SEE ALSO | Chicago City Council committee approves $2.9M for Anjanette Young over botched police raid

The I-Team has examined city data that shows Chicago taxpayers on the hook for more than just a few well-known "heater cases."

Pages of spread sheets list out payments to people and companies who have filed claims against city departments; police, fire, streets and sanitation, aviation, the water department, transportation, even planning and development.

Records just through August 2021 reveal a huge bottom line shelled out by taxpayers. In some cases, payments are for as little as $50 in a contract dispute or several hundred for a slip and fall accident, up to multi-million dollar settlements in cases of serious police misconduct for excessive force.

Through August of this year, total payouts were nearly $80 million, with almost $67 million of that in police department cases.

SEE ALSO | City paying $1.2M over deadly 2014 Chicago police shooting of boy, 14

The payouts are authorized by members of the Chicago City Council Finance Committee, with final approval required by the full council.

Headed to the council is Monday's $2.9 million dollar settlement authorized for Anjanette Young, who was handcuffed and naked as she tried to convince Chicago police in 2019 that they had raided the wrong house.

City Corporation Counsel Celia Meza told that committee if the case went to trial, a jury could award Young $1 million for every second she was naked, which could be $16 million.

"The settlement is presented to all of you in an attempt at this stage to mitigate the potential risks of proceeding further in this case and also to provide Miss Young and the city of Chicago closure on the events that took place," said Meza.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was comfortable with the settlement.

"We all saw that horrific video," Lightfoot said. "We saw the way in which she was treated and I've made extensive comments about it from the time I saw it and into the early part of this year. I think it's a good thing this is resolved. Obviously, assuming City Council approval, this will provide her, I think, with a substantial amount of resources and I think that is a good thing. It's a good thing for our city. We need to heal from this and move forward."

The city's law department that handles all these suits and settlements requires a sizable staff and budget of its own. With almost 300 attorneys, 100 support employees and a budget of $34 million, it amounts to a good-sized law firm of its own. The one major difference is: the money coming in is from taxpayers -- and so is the money going out.