City Council Authorizes $6.5 Million in Police Misconduct Settlements

City Council approved settlement packages for the families of two Chicagoans who died in police custody

Chicago's City Council authorized $6.5 million in settlements Wednesday for the families of two men who died in police custody.

Under the settlements, $4.95 million will go to the family of Philip Coleman and $1.5 million will go to the family of Justin Cook.

Coleman was repeatedly tasered and assaulted after being arrested during a mental breakdown in December of 2012. He ultimately died in police custody after having a rare allergic reaction to an anti-psychotic medication administered to him in an emergency room.

Coleman was arrested for attacking his mother in his family’s South Side home.

At the time of his arrest, Coleman was suffering from a mental breakdown and his father reportedly “begged” police to take Coleman to the hospital instead of lockup. Officers on the scene refused the family’s request.

While in custody, Coleman was tasered and dragged unconscious through a police department hallway.

Security footage of the abuse Coleman suffered in lockup has been widely circulated, adding notoriety to the case.

Coleman was later taken to the emergency room following the misconduct in lockup, but was tasered and hit with a baton after allegedly becoming combative.

At the hospital, Coleman had a rare allergic reaction to the injection of an anti-psychotic drug, which raised his body’s temperature and led to his death.

Coleman was a graduate of the University of Chicago. He had no prior criminal history.

"It's a tragic and sad case,” Ald. Ed Burke said Tuesday. “No amount of money can bring back this family's loved one, but hopefully out of this tragic event, a realization will be more widespread that in these cases where people are mentally ill and police are involved there must be a better way to deal with them.”

Burke also noted that the amount of money given to Burke’s family was “far less than a jury would award would this ever go to trial.”

Cook also died in police custody after officers refused to assist him with his inhaler following a foot chase on Chicago’s West Side.

Prior to being arrested, Cook allegedly blew through a stop sign and took off on foot as police pursued.

The arresting officers, who had both recently completed probationary periods, reportedly sprayed Cook’s inhaler in the air after he asked for it.

A witness testified that one of the officers told Cook he “should have thought about that before you ran.”

"There's no amount of training, no amount of in-service training, no amount of videos that can cure people of inhumanity," Burke said. "It seems to me that this kind of misconduct is so reprehensible that it is non-explainable. But now, our taxpayers are going to suffer again."

The settlements come in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting. McDonald, a Chicago teen, was shot and killed by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in October of 2014.

The case received widespread attention after dash-cam footage of the incident was made public in November of 2015.

As a result of the incident, former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired from his post and Cook County State’s Attorney was voted out of office. Despite countless calls for his resignation, Mayor Rahm Emanuel remains in power.

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