CHICAGO (CBS) — The city of Chicago is seeking to settle another handful of police misconduct lawsuits next week, including a proposed $10 million payout to Tarance Etheredge, who was shot in the back by police in 2012 during a foot chase in the South Shore neighborhood.
According to Etheredge’s lawsuit against the city and five Chicago police officers, he was walking to work at Staples around 11 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2012, when two plainclothes officers pulled up in an unmarked car, and yelled at him to “come here.”
Etheredge claimed the officers did not identify themselves, so he ran away in fear of his safety. One of the officers began chasing him on foot, while the other chased him in the unmarked squad car.
As Etheredge started running through nearby alleys, two other plainclothes officers in an unmarked squad car joined the chase, and eventually a uniformed officer in a marked patrol car also showed up.
After realizing the people chasing him were police, Etheredge said he stopped and surrendered, but one of the officers, identified in the lawsuit as Mark Heinzel, shot him in the back, even though he posed no threat to anyone. Etheredge admitted he was carrying a gun for protection, but claims he wasn’t holding it at the time of the shooting.
The lawsuit accuses police of excessive force, conspiracy to conceal the truth, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“There was no legal justification to point, threaten, or fire a firearm at or utilize deadly force,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Etheredge was left a parplegic after the shooting.
The City Council Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on a proposed $10 million settlement of Etheredge’s lawsuit on Tuesday.
Proposed settlements in two other police misconduct lawsuits also are on the agenda for the committee on Tuesday.
The city’s Law Department is seeking approval of a $400,000 settlement with Refugio Ruiz-Cortez, who spent more than a decade behind bars on a drug conviction, based partly on the testimony of corrupt former police officer Glenn Lewellen, who later was convicted of a lengthy drug trafficking conspiracy.
Ruiz-Cortez was convicted of drug charges in 1999 and was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, but federal prosecutors later moved to dismiss the indictment and set him free in May 2010. Ruiz-Cortez claimed Lewellen, an informant, and others framed him on the drug charges.
According to published reports, Ruiz-Cortez took his lawsuit against Lewellen and the city to trial in 2016, but a jury balked at an $11 million payout.
The other settlement up for a vote next week is a $270,000 payout to Cruz and Aurea Rodriguez, their sons Oscar and Luis, and their son-in-law Romulo Acuna; who have accused police of breaking down the door to their Humboldt Park home on May 31, 2014, without a warrant or probable cause.
The lawsuit accuses a group of seven officers of assaulting the family, then arresting them and falsely accusing them of attacking the officers.