Abashed Council Approves Cop Misconduct Settlements
CITY HALL — Expressing anger and embarrassment, aldermen Thursday unanimously approved court settlements worth $32.75 million to close two high-profile cases of police misconduct.
The City Council authorized $10.25 million for Alton Logan, who spent 26 years in prison wrongly convicted of murder in a 1982 case involving notorious Area 2 Cmdr. Jon Burge.
Then the council authorized a record $22.5 million for Christina Eilman, a 21-year-old California college student taken into police custody at Midway Airport in 2006 while suffering a severe bipolar episode, only to be released the next day near the Robert Taylor Homes, where she was raped and fell from a seventh-story window.
Aldermen expressed sadness and shame at the Eilman case Tuesday when first considering the settlements in committee, but they saved their rage for the Logan case at Thursday's regular council meeting.
An openly emotional Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) called the Logan-Burge case "a pure tragedy that no amount of money could pay for what they're going through."
She added that it was "inhuman" for Logan to spend 26 years in prison after a conviction he accused the city of rigging through concealed evidence.
"I was amazed when I started looking into this case," Mitts said. "Jon Burge couldn't have done this by himself."
"This has to end," added Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st). "The culture of covering up ... in the City of Chicago Police Department has to stop."
"We can't condemn the whole department for what was essentially a rogue operation," said Ald. Edward Burke (14th). Yet he went on to express "embarrassment and shame" at the Eilman incident, calling it a "sad, tragic, gruesome" case of "negligence" that displayed "callous disregard for simple compassion and sympathy."
"This is not a proud moment in the history of the Chicago Police Department," concluded Burke, a former cop.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also admitted afterward to "anger" and "frustration" over the two cases.
"What we could have done with that money in our neighborhoods," Mitts said.
Burke submitted a ordinance afterward codifying the changes in Police Department policy made since the Eilman case on how to handle those showing "mental issues." Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) and Ald. James Balcer (11th) signed on as co-sponsors of what Burke renamed the "Christina Eilman Ordinance."