Chicago (CBS) — After a month’s delay, aldermen signed a $1.675 million settlement on Wednesday with five innocent people who were pulled from their cars by police officers during city-wide civil unrest in the summer of 2020.
Mia Wright, Tanika Tate, Kim Woods, Ebony Wilbourne and Jevon Hill lay a bone at the Brickyard Mall on May 31, 2020, amid widespread looting in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, but found it closed.
Their vehicle was surrounded by police as they were trying to exit the parking lot. Cellphone videos of the incident showed officers on either side of the car smashing windows with their batons before pulling Wright and another woman out of the vehicle and pinning them to the ground.
Wright has said that she was trying to get him out of the car when police pulled him by the hair, and then slammed him to the ground while pressing his knee against his neck and back. Wright was blind in one eye as a result of the post-traumatic stress.
Authorities thought Wright and others were robbing, but they denied any wrongdoing, and city attorneys recommended a settlement, telling aldermen in February that an investigation by the Civil Office of Police Accountability had found no evidence of any wrongdoing. There was no evidence that anyone was involved in the car. The looting before the officers got to the car. In fact, city lawyers said there was no evidence they got out of the car before the police pulled them out.
The COPA recommended that eight officers face discipline for their actions in the incident, ranging from firing to reprimands and the Chicago Superintendent of Police. According to assistant corporation attorney Caroline Fronzak, David Brown agreed with the recommendations.
Under the terms of the agreement, Wright would receive $650,000 in damages, while the other four people in the car with him would each receive $243,750.
Last month, four aldermenAfter objecting to the payment.
Despite there being no evidence that anyone in the car was involved in the robbery, Ald. Nick Spasato (38th) questioned during a finance committee meeting in February why Wright and his partners went to Brickyard Mall in the first place, given that they live more than 20 minutes away in North Lawndale, and that There have been incidents of looting all over the country. city that day
“By that time in the afternoon, everyone in town knew what was happening with the massive chaos,” said Spocetto. “They passed a load of Target, and they were close to two party stores in case they needed stuff for a party for a kid.”
Sposato’s questions led to angry responses from several Black Aldermen, including Eld. Jason Erwin (28th), who chaired the Black Caucus, said “people have the right to do what they like,” and correctly noted that there are no Target stores between North Lawndale and Brickyard Mall in Chicago. .
Eld. Leslie Hairston (5th) accused Spasato, who is White, of showing “inherent bias” as to why the group was visiting the Brickyard Mall, suggesting that they were there to cause trouble.
“These people were treated this way because they were black, and I’ve been hearing some very disturbing comments from my colleagues,” she said. “My colleagues don’t understand that, when you’re a person of color in this city, you’re targeted because of the color of your skin, and people have certain perceptions. They make things up about you.” so that they can come and do unconstitutional things for you.”
Sposato defended his questions about the case, saying that he was not arguing that Wright and his family did not have the right to go to the Brickyard Mall, saying only that he felt the circumstances seemed unusual. Is.
“It’s an odd set of circumstances, because someone needs diapers and accessories for a baby party, and they move far away from their home when most people shop close to home, especially one like that.” On crazy days,” he said.
Sposatto’s explanation didn’t please Hairston.
“People are free to shop wherever they want; whether they’re getting diapers, whether or not they have to pass 30 stores they can visit,” she said.
Despite repeated claims from city attorneys that Wright and his accomplices did nothing wrong, Eld. Raymond López (15th) has said that the settlement is “similar to the opening of Pandora’s Box, so that everyone else may now have an excuse to start suing us, because of what happened on the day they deliberately destroyed this city.” were trying.”
He said, “To say that the day was chaotic, in an organized attempt to completely destabilize the city, is an understatement of what the city experienced during full civil unrest, when the entire city was under siege for almost 24 hours. I was in.”
Eld. However, Michelle Smith (43rd) has repeatedly admitted to her city attorneys that police have no evidence that Wright and his family were involved in looting, or any other criminal activity. She said the incident appeared to be a clear cut case of unconstitutional behavior by the police.
“It is certainly regrettable that the people who, on the evidence—which is all that matters, the evidence—were not committing crimes at the time, and yet their windows were broken, pulled out of the car, put down, and Someone allegedly kept his foot on his neck for some time.” “This is not in my view – despite my support from my colleague and the police – not an appropriate response to what was going on.”