Chicago Approves Record $9.5 Million Settlement for Man Permanently Paralyzed After Being Tasered by Police

A record $9.5 million settlement for a man left paralyzed after being felled by a Taser-wielding Chicago police officer won approval Tuesday of a key City Council committee.

The Finance Committee endorsed the settlement, negotiated by city attorneys after a jury determined that Officer Stevan Vidljinovic used excessive force and unlawfully seized Jose Lopez but did not intentionally inflict his severe injuries.

A jury had yet to determine the amount to be paid by the city, but attorneys for Lopez had demanded $22.5 million, said committee Chairman Ed Burke, 14th.

If the $9.5 million settlement is approved, it will be the largest Taser-related payout in the city’s history, public records show.

“As the guy who votes against the settlements probably more than anybody, we don’t have a choice in this $9.5 million,” said Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 38th. “None of us want to pay out $9.5 million, but this was explained very well (by city attorneys) during our briefings. We have no choice.”

Burke said paramedics responded to the Little Village neighborhood in July 2011 after a call for medical help from Lopez’s girlfriend. But they encountered an uncooperative Lopez, he said.

Chicago cops get more Tasers, but red flags remain
Police tried to intervene, and officers said that Lopez threw a punch at them, although the jury concluded evidence didn’t show that.

After Vidljinovic used his Taser, Lopez fell to the ground and hit his head, leaving him a paraplegic and brain damaged, Burke said. “These are serious injuries, catastrophic in nature,” Burke said. “He’ll require full-time, lifetime care.”

The cost of his future care is estimated at $8 million, Burke said. “This is an appropriate settlement,” he added.

Lopez’s girlfriend sought help because he was having chest pains. At Mount Sinai Hospital, it was determined that Lopez, a former tow truck driver, had cocaine and PCP in his system at the time of the encounter with police, Burke said.

The incident could prove a cautionary tale about the use of Tasers, which are being far more widely deployed in the department as a means of less-lethal force.

The Taser expansion is one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Police Department reforms in the wake of the late 2015 release of a police dashcam video showing an officer shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times.

Court filing: Chicago agrees to pay $9.5 million to man tased by officer
Like fatal shootings by police, they too can lead to significant payouts if the courts determine they weren’t used properly.

More than 100 lawsuits involving Tasers have been filed against the city since 2005, the Tribune determined through an examination of public records. In those cases, the city has paid or agreed to pay at least $23.1 million in settlements, verdicts, judgments and attorney fees, city and court records show.

Included in that amount is the $9.5 million Lopez settlement that the full council is expected to approve Wednesday. One alderman worried the settlement would affect officers who are now being outfitted with Tasers.

“It’s hard to stop the violence, when people are scared, police officers are scared of doing their jobs,” said Ald. George Cardenas, 25th. “Everybody’s scared of doing anything because you see this time and time again.”


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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