Victim’s parents condemn ‘uncaring’ cops as Chicago aldermen OK $32 million in settlements
BY FRAN SPIELMAN Sun-Times Media January 17, 2013 5:58PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:16PM
The parents of a mentally ill California woman, awarded a $22.5 million settlement on Thursday, condemned the “insensitive and uncaring” Chicago police officers who ignored their daughter’s “desperate need for help and placed her in harm’s way.”
Kathleen and Richard Paine broke their silence about the 2006 incident — that left their daughter with devastating brain injuries, a shattered pelvis and broken bones — minutes after the Chicago City Council approved the largest settlement in city history to a single plaintiff.
Christina Eilman, then 21, was arrested at Midway Airport, held overnight in a South Side police lockup and then released in a high-crime neighborhood, where she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted before falling or being pushed from the seventh-floor window of Chicago Housing Authority high-rise.
Police ignored nine calls from her mother warning them that her daughter was bipolar, that she might be “having an episode” and that she was unfamiliar with Chicago and should not be released in a strange neighborhood.
“It is a bittersweet victory since no amount of money will bring back the daughter we knew, the lovely young woman who was full of life and accepting of all people,” the Paines said in a statement released by their attorney.
“Her life was dramatically changed after she came to Chicago and found herself in the grasp of several insensitive and uncaring police officers and detention aides who humiliated her, directed cruel and insensitive comments toward her, ignored her desperate need for help and placed her in harm’s way.”
The Paines said they’re pleased with a settlement that will provide their now-27-year-old daughter with the around-the-clock care she needs after a legal odyssey that dragged on for 6 1/2 years as the city denied Chicago police officers were responsible for Eilman’s injuries.
But they said, “We won’t forget those police officers who seemed to go out of their way to expose our daughter to becoming assaulted and to come so close to death. To those few officers who attempted to help her, we offer our thanks. Still, we will not forget those in command nor those who had the chance to offer assistance and consciously chose not to.”
The city is insured only against catastrophic claims exceeding $15 million. The uninsured portion of the nearly $33 million in settlements approved Thursday will eat up all but $2 million of the $27.3 million set aside to settle judgments and claims against the city for all of 2013.
The city plans to borrow money to pay excess claims, just as it did to pay nearly $80 million owed to black candidates bypassed by the city’s discriminatory handling of a 1995 firefighters entrance exam.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged the irreparable damage done by an egregious case of police misconduct.
“Each one of those officers ... bring shame on all the other responsible police officers who do their job every day. And they have cost the city — not only financially but its reputation,” the mayor said.
Four detention aides and nine police officers had allegations sustained against them for failing to properly care for Eilman. All got off with a reprimand.
“I’m going to deal with that,” Emanual said. without elaborating.
The city council also awarded $10.25 million to Alton Logan, who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he did not commit because of an alleged cover-up engineered by now-convicted former police Cmdr. Jon Burge.
Before the final vote, black aldermen vented their anger once again against Burge, who is in a federal prison in North Carolina after his 2010 conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice.
“The amount of money the taxpayers are paying out — what we could do with that money in our neighborhoods. Look what we could solve, the jobs that could be created,” Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said.
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) noted that Chicago taxpayers have already paid $56 million — $41 million of it to settle Burge cases, $15 million for attorney fees.
“The city continues to pay out for Commander Burge. We’re still paying his pension. When is the city going to stop being a victim?” Brookins said. “No wonder (police) Supt. (Garry) McCarthy has such a hard time connecting with the community because there have been years of mistrust. ... The culture of covering up and aiding people in the department has to stop because it’s hurting the entire city.”