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City Council OKs $10M Settlement In Burge Case

Eric Caine

Eric Caine was set free from prison on March 17, 2011, after 25 years in prison. Prosecutors dropped the case against him, due to a questionable confession that he claims was the result of police torture. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (STMW) – The City Council on Wednesday agreed to shell out $10 million to compensate a man who spent 25 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit after being beaten into confessing by convicted former police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his crew at Area 2.

With the newly approved settlement for 47-year-old Eric Caine, the tab for police abuse and misconduct cases resolved this year rose to at least $64 million and the overall tab for Burge-related cases to nearly $70 million.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel set aside $27.3 million to settle lawsuits against the city for all of 2013.

Caine’s settlement is one of the largest for Burge’s alleged torture victims.

He spent nearly half his life in prison for the 1986 murder of Vincent and Rafaela Sanchez after Burge’s crew allegedly tortured Aaron Patterson, who confessed to a double murder he did not commit and falsely implicated Caine.

After being taken into an interrogation room where he saw Patterson “all beat up,” Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton said Caine was taken into a separate room and threatened with the same sort of physical abuse if he did not confess.

“He also claims that, when he refused to sign a confession after several hours of interrogation, he was struck by a detective with the cuffed hand on the side of his head and that this strike ruptured his eardrum and caused him to finally sign the confession,” Patton told aldermen Friday.

A doctor who treated Caine after his interrogation has signed an affidavit verifying the ruptured eardrum and saying the injury was “caused by trauma consistent with being slapped on the side of the head with a cuffed hand,” Patton said. “That doctor . . . is still around. He testified in this case . . . and maintains that he believes Mr. Caine was tortured and that there was actual physical evidence of that,” Patton said.

“This is the first case that I’ve brought to you where we’ve had actual physical confirmation — medical evidence of abuse.”

Friday’s settlement clears the deck of all but three Burge cases inherited by Emanuel. Caine’s is one of the largest. Only Alton Logan’s $10.25 million settlement was bigger.

Patterson was pardoned by then-Gov. George Ryan in 2003 and released from death row. Caine remained in prison until 2011, when a judge tossed out his coerced confession and prosecutors dropped the charges.

Burge was convicted in June 2010 of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in a civil court case when asked if he knew of the alleged torture that went on under his watch. He is serving a 41/2-year sentence in federal prison.

The Finance Committee on Friday also authorized two other police misconduct settlements worth $830,000.

The first goes to a woman who was given a ride home by a Chicago Police officer in 2009 and sexually assaulted. The second goes to a man who was allegedly held and beaten by police in 2007.

All of the settlements are expected to be approved by the full City Council next week. The city is insured only against catastrophic settlements over $15 million.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)