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The Price of Abusive Policing — Chicago Pays Out $54 Million in Settlements in 2014

Illustration provided by Christopher Dombres.
Illustration provided by Christopher Dombres.
By Jonah Newman
The City of Chicago paid $54.2 million in settlements and verdicts for police misconduct cases last year, including more than $9.5 million in attorneys’ fees, according to an analysis of city law department data by The Chicago Reporter.

That’s more than the budget for the offices of the mayor, the city treasurer, the city council, the council committees and the department of human resources – combined.

Police misconduct complaints include those alleging excessive force, extended detention, false arrest, failure to provide medical care, illegal search or seizure, malicious prosecution and wrongful conviction.

The vast majority of payments came from settlements, which usually do not require the city or police officers to admit wrongdoing. Only 9 of the 161 police misconduct cases in 2014 were the result of jury verdicts.

Many of those who received payments last year filed suits against the city years earlier, with one lawsuit going back as far as 2004.

The only year since 2008 when the city has paid more for police misconduct than last year was 2013, when verdicts for five of the torture victims of disgraced Commander Jon Burge were paid out, totaling $34.3 million. The total amount of police misconduct payouts that year was $81.3 million.

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