A settlement has been reached with the family of a Chicago Black man who was tased and dragged from his jail cell in 2012.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration reached an undisclosed settlement with the family of Phillip Coleman. Court documents reveal the settlement agreement was reached Feb. 19. Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton is scheduled to present the settlement to the Chicago City Council Committee on Finance April 11.
The case was reopened in December 2014 for a disciplinary investigation once Sharon Fairley became the new chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority. Fairley will use the time between now and the settlement presentation date to finish the investigation.
Coleman, 38, suffered a mental breakdown and police dragged him from his cell. He was continuously shocked with a taser afterwards, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. A video was released of the incident in 2015 – three years after he died. Coleman was hospitalized and died after suffering a bad reaction to an anti-psychotic drug given to him by doctors, according to the New York Daily News. A Coleman family lawyer said the victim was beaten with batons and tasered 13 times during the attack.
In a statement at the time of the video’s release, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said:
“I do not see how the manner in which Mr. Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable. While the Medical Examiner ruled that Mr. Coleman died accidentally as a result of treatment he received in the hospital, it does not excuse the way he was treated when he was in custody. Something is wrong here — either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department.”
Settlements are uncommon in police brutality cases. U.S. News reports police are almost always indemnified from financial penalties in cases involving abuse or wrongful death. University of California Los Angeles law professor Joanna C. Schwartz says even when police are forced to pay, they almost never do. This ends up ultimately burdening taxpayers. Even when payouts do happen, Schwartz says there’s little evidence to show financial penalties lead to reform in police departments.