Two weeks after a jury awarded a record $44.7 million in the case of an off-duty Chicago Police officer who shot his buddy in the head, lawyers have filed a lawsuit involving the same officer in another shooting — this one fatal.
Officer Patrick Kelly had a long history of citizen complaints against him and should have been stripped of his police powers long before the night he and another officer shot Hector Hernandez 13 times on April 7, 2014 at Hernandez’s girlfriend’s South Side home, lawyers for Hernandez’s family said Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Neither Kelly, nor Antonio Corral, the other officer who opened fire, had the crisis-intervention training to deal with a mentally distraught Hernandez, those lawyers said.
“When Hector Hernandez was indeed crying out for help, the only response that they knew was to draw their guns and empty out their clips and shoot and kill a man who was actually needing help,” attorney Tony Romanucci said, speaking to reporters at his downtown offices.
The wrongful death suit, filed in federal court, names Kelly, Corral and the city as defendants.
“You look at that history, and the question needs to be asked: ‘Why is Patrick Kelly still a police officer?'” Romanucci said.
On the night he died, Hernandez, 21, was visiting his girlfriend, the mother of his two small children, at her home in the 2500 block of West 50th. He was planning to take one of the children out to a nearby restaurant, according to the suit. At some point, Hernandez and his girlfriend, Esperanza Davila, got into a “non-violent verbal argument,” the suit states.
Before Kelly arrived, other police officers were already there trying to deescalate the situation. At some point, Hernandez pulled out a knife, intending, the lawyers say, to cut his own arm. Then at least two officers Tasered Hernandez.
“Within a moment, Officer Kelly basically unloads … his gun,” said Jeffrey Granich, another of the lawyers representing Hernandez’s surviving family.
The Hernandez shooting was eventually ruled justified by the now-defunct Independent Police Review Authority.
A Chicago Police spokesman said Friday that the department doesn’t discuss pending lawsuits. Neither Kelly nor Corral could be reached for comment.
City Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said officials have not yet received the lawsuit and, therefore, cannot comment.
In late October, Romanucci stood before reporters a day after a federal jury awarded his client, Michael D. LaPorta, $44.7 million. The jury found that Kelly had pulled the trigger, shooting LaPorta in the head after a night of drinking at Kellly’s home in January 2010. The shooting left LaPorta permanently disabled.
After the jury’s decision, a city spokesman said lawyers planned to appeal the verdict, believed to be the highest amount for a police misconduct case in the city’s history.