(CBS) – Government watchdogs call it a staggering amount of money: Chicago police misconduct payouts over the last decade amount to more than half a billion dollars.
On Monday, the city agreed to even more.
Many say that’s a drain of both taxpayer cash and confidence, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.
The city reportedly has reached a $4.9 million deal with the family of Philip Coleman – the police detainee who died in 2012 after being hit with a Taser gun several times.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Jeremiah Smith, who was seen being clubbed by police so hard his hat flew off, confirm the city agreed to pay in his case, too, but won’t say how much.
They are the latest brutality payouts, totaling more than $6 million in taxpayer money already this year.
“We’re spending more on police misconduct payouts than we had 10, 15 years ago on an annual basis, so I think it’s certainly a problem,” says Alden Loury of the Better Government Association.
Since 2004, he notes, Chicago taxpayers have paid more than $660 million in misconduct settlements, court costs and lawyers’ fees.
A city law department spokesperson says insurance doesn’t kick in until a settlement reaches $20 million.
“Cumulatively it’s a real signal the Chicago Police Department is in need of reform,” Loury says.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer, chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, says the city tries to strike a balance between protecting taxpayers and being fair to the families.
“I don’t think the settlements will ever become a deterrent. When officers get fired and prosecuted, then that will become the deterrent,” Sawyer says.
The BGA’s Loury cited a Wall Street Journal report finding that, of the 10 largest U.S. police departments, Chicago had the highest percentage of lawsuit settlements related to police misconduct – 90 percent.
Washington D.C. was a distant second.