The city of Chicago has settled a police department "code of silence" lawsuit brought by two whistleblowers, on the day the trial in the case was set to begin.
The city settled Tuesday for $2 million, a sum the City Council still must approve.
The settlement follows a federal judge's ruling Friday that the city cannot just admit that a code of silence exists within the Chicago Police Department -- he wants to hear Mayor Rahm Emanuel describe it for himself.
The city's corporate counsel said Tuesday the settlement has "nothing to do with preventing the mayor from testifying."
The testimony was ordered for a case where two veteran police officers, Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria, say they faced retaliation after attempting to expose corruption in the Ida B. Wells housing project on Chicago’s South Side.
"We are hopeful this will signal the beginning of the end of the code of silence that permeates within the Chicago Police Department," attorney Jeffrey Taren, one of the lawyers representing the two officers, said Tuesday of the settlement.
After Emanuel spoke of an unwritten code in remarks before the Chicago City Council last fall, Spalding and Echeverria’s attorneys added the mayor to their potential witness list. City lawyers fought to exclude his testimony, even offering to stipulate to the existence of the so-called “code."
But Judge Gary Feinerman refused, ruling that Emanuel would offer "further evidence of an unwritten policy and practice."
But that wasn’t the officers’ only victory. Over city objections, the Judge also ruled that the Spalding and Echeverria could introduce the findings of the recent police accountability task force.
“The code of silence is not just an unwritten rule, or an unfortunate element of police culture past and present,” the task force wrote. “The code of silence is institutionalized and reinforced by CPD rules and policies.”
“It is extraordinarily prejudicial,” city attorney Alan King told the court. “I think it is an inappropriate position to be put in.”
Of the $2 million, $1 million will pay for attorney fees and the two officers will split $1 million.