Jury Awards Siblings $5M, Cop Who Shot Them Still on Force
This week a federal jury awarded three siblings $5 million because they were shot and wounded by a Chicago cop who they concluded used excessive force.
The jury awarded Michael Williamson $2.1 million in damages, his younger brother, Princeton, $1.65 million and their sister, Kierra, $1 million.
The Chicago Tribune reported the incident happened on New Year’s 2014 after police claim they heard the brothers fire a gun in the air, and then Officer Wilfredo Ortiz came to investigate.
Ortiz told the Independent Police Review Authority or IPRA that Michael Williamson took a “tactical stance” and raised the gun, so Ortiz shot him because he feared for his life. IPRA ruled the shooting was justified. IPRA cleared Ortiz in the shooting.
A judge later ruled that the brothers who were criminally charged at the time was based on a “garbage” testimony and the charges of aggravated assault and weapons charges were thrown out, the Trib reported.
The Civilian Office on Police Accountability will replace IPRA when investigating police officers using deadly force after a federal investigation found that there was little accountability in a department that has been cited in numerous cases for police brutality.
The big question will be whether police officers are held more accountable and cannot get away with seriously injuring or killing people that the police review board determines is ok, but a jury then awards millions of taxpayer dollars to the victim based on the cop’s wrongful actions.
If a police officer is found guilty by a jury of using excessive force, or any other serious charge, then at least that officer should be fired.
Many believe the expiring police union contract has allowed the cops to get away with murder at the expense of the city. The mayor and the union will have to decide how much power the police will continue to enjoy when the city and its residents have to pay out millions for their actions.
In the siblings case, the Trib. reported that the city also agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys in exchange for them dropping broader allegations that the city engaged in a “pattern and practice” of failing to properly investigate police shootings.
There have been many cases of police shooting at suspects in the back when they flee on foot or in a car.
The notorious case going to trial today involves Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times even though he was walking away from the officer. The city tried to cover up the case, and secretly paid the victim’s family a $5 million settlement, but a video of the incident went viral and led to massive protests and calls for the mayor to resign.
In this case, Officer Ortiz fired 15 times at a group of people in an occupied residence because he “lost control of the situation,” a lawyer stated, according to the Trib.
Now the question is – why is Officer Ortiz still on the force?