Chicago aldermen approve $31M settlement for wrongly convicted 'Englewood 4'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A $31 million settlement for four men wrongly accused of a 1994 rape and murder in the Englewood neighborhood - one of the largest city payouts for police misconduct - is on track to be approved by the city of Chicago.

On Monday, the Chicago City Council's Finance Committee approved the settlement for Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames, Terrill Swift and Michael Saunders, known as the "Englewood 4."

With coerced confessions and DNA evidence that points to another suspect, City Attorney Jenny Notz told Chicago aldermen on Monday that it would have cost the city millions more had the civil case gone to trial.

"If these cases go to trial, the plaintiffs will argue that their confessions were coerced and fabricated because the police took advantage of their youth. They were all between 15 and 18 at the time their statements were taken," said Notz, first deputy corporation counsel.

The four men spent 15 years in prison for the 1994 rape and murder of 30-year-old Nina Glover.

Over the past few years, city council has approved hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements involving police. In 2017 alone, city council has approved more than $51 million in settlements related to police matters.

However, it's the wrongful conviction suits that usually carry the biggest price tag.

On Monday, the attorney for the police union blamed civil rights lawyers for using city council as a blank check.

"Their playbook is simple, they claim police misconduct, get prosecutors to exonerate, draft a willing media, and then manipulate the citizens of Chicago out of their tax money," said Martin Preib, attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the police union.

In response to these comments made by FOP attorney, one aldermen said the union is adding to the division between police and community rather than helping repair it.

Ald. Nick Sposato (38th Ward) said he supports the big payout for the "Englewood 4," but opposes the city settling lawsuits that involve accidents when police are chasing a suspect.

"This one in particular appears to be police misconduct, but far majority of them are police officers doing their jobs and we are settling, which I don't get. That's why I don't support a lot of them," Sposato said.

The legal road for three of the Englewood 4 is not over. They are suing Cook County as well for alleged misconduct by an assistant state's attorney.
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