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Council Panel OKs Nearly $4M In Settlements Over Police Lawsuits

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Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

Chicago City Council Chambers (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The City Council’s Finance Committee has approved millions of dollars in settlements of lawsuits stemming from deaths of people who were being held in police lockups and other alleged police misconduct.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, aldermen expressed serious concerns in the wake of about $4 million dollars worth of settlements of lawsuits from deaths in police detention cells in recent years, as well as other allegations of police wrongdoing.

Finance Committee Chairman, Ald. Edward Burke (14th), said some of the cases sounded like something you might hear out of North Korea or a Soviet gulag.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

In one case, according to First Assistant Corporation Counsel Leslie Darling, 52-year-old Rafe McMullan, who had a heart condition, was being held in a lockup three years ago when he loudly complained of pain, nausea and vomiting and begged to be taken to a doctor, but wasn’t.

“When he was discovered by personnel and examined by paramedics on the scene Mr. McMullan was in full rigor mortis, a condition that begins within two to six hours after death,” Darling said.

Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), a former police officer, asked how something like that could happen.

“I was the watch commander in central detention for three years and part of the process is that supervisors, as well as detention aides, go and check cells every 15 minutes.”

The city has agreed to settle that case for $1 million. It’s also giving $2 million to the family of Patricia Cobige, a 46-year-old drug suspect who died of a heart problem in a police lockup in 2006 despite calling for help.

The other cases include a $290,000 settlement with a 26-year-old quadriplegic who allegedly was beaten by police and a $560,000 settlement with an Iraq War veteran who spent two months behind bars after being arrested for an armed robbery he did not commit.

Meantime, Burke said he wants an outside investigation of lockup conditions.

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