Brutal Burge Chapter of Chi History Closes; $7 Mill, No Apology - The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Brutal Burge Chapter of Chi History Closes; $7 Mill, No Apology

Is this the finale to one of the darkest chapters in Chicago law enforcement history? Yesterday, the City Council approved over $7 million in payouts to settle lawsuits stemming from police-sanctioned torture in the 1980s, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. However, even with the payouts, the victims’ attorneys are not satisfied; they are still waiting for an apology.

Michael Tillman will receive $5.37 million. He spent more than 23 years in prison. He confessed to the crime after being tortured for four days by Chicago police officers, reports the Associated Press. He was later declared innocent.

David Fauntleroy will get $1.8 million. He was cleared of a 1983 double murder charge in January 2009. According to the AP, Fauntleroy spent 25 years in prison.

Ordinarily, a city, and the police department, would probably be immune to lawsuits arising from the conduct of bad apple cops due to the old legal concept of sovereign immunity. However, when pervasive misconduct is sanctioned by supervisors, immunity disappears and the city government opens itself up to lawsuits.

Meanwhile, former Area 2 Commander Jon Burge, who is still drawing a pension from the city, is rotting away in jail. He was convicted of perjury in 2010 for lying under oath about torture that occurred under his watch. He’s serving a four-and-a-half year sentence.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the total paid out to date in Burge torture cases is $44.9 million. But still, is that enough?

One of the attorneys, Flint Taylor, told the Tribune that the victims still want an apology. They were hoping that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would apologize for the sins of his predecessor, but the mayor instead simply stated that he hoped this would “see this dark chapter in the city’s history brought to a close.”

Former Mayor Richard Daley, who was the attorney general duringf the Burge Era, missed warning signs of the misconduct. According to the Sun-Times, he allegedly ignored a letter from a subordinate questioning the tactics used in accused cop killer Andrew Wilson’s case.

In 2006, a special prosecutor’s report outlined two decades of torture and failure by the police brass to properly supervise their subordinates.

Daley responded at the time with, “Do you think I would sit by, let anyone say that police brutality takes place, I know about it, that I had knowledge about it and I would allow it? Then you don’t know my public career. You don’t know what I stand for.”

That’s kind of an apology. He then backtracked by sarcastically apologizing for “whatever happened to anybody in the city of Chicago… in the past.”

Then again, feelings and goodwill aside, it might not be the best move from a legal standpoint to apologize for alleged torture. Such a pseudo-confession could come back at trial if more cases from the two decades of torment emerge.

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