Chicago has agreed to pay four individuals a total of $31 million for false imprisonment.
The city has reached a settlement with the individuals labeled the “Englewood Four” — Harold Richardson, Michael Saunders, Terrill Swift and Vincent Thames. All four had served 15 years in prison for the 1994 rape and murder of Nina Glover before DNA from the victim’s body matched DNA from a murderer and sex offender who was gunned down in 2008.
“For years, I would stand here to say that we are paying out too much money in settlements and that money could best be used elsewhere,” Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward) said at last week’s City Council meeting where the settlement was approved. “We have paid out millions of dollars every year. The problem is there is no consequence for the conduct of the people responsible for us paying out those settlements.
“I frequently said that if you had a private job and you cost your employer millions of dollars, you would be fired, but, in our case, because of police contracts, etc. those police officers in many cases have been rewarded and some by promotion, but the behavior continues.”
Brookins said if the verdict money was coming out of officers’ own pockets he would be fine with rolling the dice and taking the cases to a jury.
“But it’s the city and the taxpayers who have to pay for their mistakes and it’s not fair to our taxpayers that we continue going forward paying year after year for the conduct of a few of these police officers that we could not terminate based on the contract that we are obligated to pay based on a precedent.”
Brookins said the money the city has paid out in police settlements “could have kept all the damn schools open.”
Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) said he could not in good conscience support the settlement as presented.
He said from the briefings he has gotten and his further investigation he has an uneasy feeling about the four individuals named in the settlement.
“I know going to court this would be a very difficult case to win, but I can’t stand by a vote for something in approval for a $31 million settlement for four individuals that I feel are guilty,” Sposato said. “Everybody can vote their conscience and do what they think they want, but, in my opinion, we are giving millions of dollars to four individuals.”
Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward) and Sposato were the only two aldermen to vote against the settlement. Aldermen Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) were absent.
Napolitano said he was not in favor of settling the case.
“It may cost the city a lot more money, but I feel in this case in particular, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence against these individuals in this settlement,” Napolitano said. “I feel like we are opening the gateway for settlements like this in the future over and over again.”
Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) disagreed with Napolitano’s assessment.
“We are not talking about opening a gateway for settlements,” Harris said. “The gateway for settlements was opened when they started shooting black men in the back.”
— Chicago opts to settle ‘Englewood Four’ case —–