CHICAGO (CBS) — Fifty-two million dollars – it’s a staggering amount of money, and also the average paid each and every year in the last decade to settle lawsuits against the Chicago Police Department.
This revelation comes as the city is facing a deficit of more than $838 million.
CBS 2’s Chelsea Irving broke down where all the money to settle the lawsuits comes from.
On Wednesday night, Mayor Lori Lightfoot headed to the Copernicus Center in the Jefferson Park neighborhood to begin a series of town hall meetings to talk about the city budget. She said the city’s pension fund is the biggest factor in the deficit.
But looking at the numbers, police lawsuit payouts are also a big piece.
The lawsuits involve cases like that of Fausto Manzera, 21. Manzera was hit and killed by Chicago Police Officer Joseph Frugoli, 50.
Frugoli was driving drunk at the time of the 2009 crash – his blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, and last year, Manzera’s family was awarded $7.5 million.
The city also settled last year with the family of Bettie Jones. The 55-year-old woman was shot and killed in the stairwell of her home by Chicago Police as they responded to a domestic disturbance call involving her neighbor.
The shooting was ruled unjustified, and Jones’ family was awarded $16 million.
Perhaps the most controversial payout went to Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez. He sued after spending 16 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
In 2014, the city and county paid Jimenez $25 million. But he later spent that money on a Mercedes Benz, and, prosecutors said, to build a gang.
Jimenez was convicted of shooting a rival gang member and sent back to prison in 2017.
Add up 10 years of lawsuit payouts involving the Police Department, and it amounts to $524,055,580. Last year alone, the figure was $97,801,760.
The top three reasons for the lawsuits were excessive force, reversed convictions, and false arrests.
This year’s Chicago deficit is over $800 million. Mayor Lightfoot says $90 million of that is from lawsuit payments.
Next year, the city has more than doubled the budget for expected settlements – putting aside $152 million. They are hoping that will more than cover what is needed.