Former Independent Police Review Authority investigator Lorenzo Davis won a $2.8 million dollar judgment Thursday in his wrongful termination suit against the city.
Davis had alleged in a lawsuit that he was fired because he refused to change his findings in controversial police cases. After eight days of testimony and at least 19 witnesses, the jury awarded him $800,000 in back pay, and $2 million for emotional distress.
“It indicated the jury accepted all of Lorenzo’s testimony,” Davis’s attorney Tom Needham told NBC 5. “And they rejected the city’s claim that he was insubordinate.”
The case provided a window into multiple allegations of overt City Hall involvement in the police oversight process.
During testimony at the Daley Center, former IPRA administrator Scott Ando said Davis’s 2015 firing had been in the works for a year, because he “cherry picked” facts, and was insubordinate.
“He had an agenda,” Ando said on the witness stand Thursday. “I had no faith in his ability to be unbiased and fair.”
Ando was asked about an email he wrote to the mayor’s press secretary in the summer of 2015, where he said, “I’m glad I waited intentionally until after the election to fire him.”
“You intentionally waited until after the election to fire him?” he was asked.
“Correct,” Ando said, explaining that he had been in attendance at a mayoral cabinet meeting before the election, where it was made clear that department heads shouldn’t be making waves.
“The mayor walked in and said, I better not get any surprises from any of you,” Ando recalled. “I was a political appointee---you don’t want to be the person who creates any controversy.”
Later that year, a few months after he fired Davis, Ando would be forced out at IPRA himself by Mayor Emanuel.
“It has become clear that new leadership is required as we rededicate ourselves to dramatically improving our system of police accountability,” the mayor said at the time. But in a sworn deposition in the Davis case, Ando specifically recalled what he was told the day he was asked to resign.
“I never spoke to the mayor at all,” he said. “They said we can’t have a middle-aged white male from law enforcement running the oversight agency.”
Ando said that declaration came from mayoral chief of staff Eileen Mitchell.
“At that point I just said, you know what, that is so wrong for you to even say that, and it’s offensive and I’ll resign,” he said. “I don’t want to work here. I don’t want to work for you people any more.”
Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins wouldn’t comment on Ando’s accusation about that meeting—-preferring to focus on the earlier email controversy.
“Mr. Ando was clearly talking about a personal decision he made on his own,” Collins said. “I don’t know and can’t speak to why he would think it would ever be appropriate to apply a political judgment to his decision making process. And Mr. Ando is no longer employed by the city.
Pressed on the issue of comments made during Ando’s dismissal—Collins told NBC 5 in an email, “I’m not re-litigating litigation.”
In court Thursday, Davis’s attorney Torreya Hamilton established that he had received favorable performance reviews in past years, and that he had actually sided with police officers’ versions of events in over 87 percent of the cases his team investigated.
The jury only deliberated about one hour before rendering their verdict in his case.