Chicago taxpayers are faced with another multi-million dollar lawsuit, this time in relation to the wrongful death of man shot by a police officer in 2011. Police brutality lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm point to this story, which is just one of the many large payouts Chicago taxpayers will be forced to make this year.
Just last month, Chicago aldermen voted to pay more than $33 million to two other victims of police misconduct. The first was a mentally-ill woman who was released from a South Side police station and abandoned in a high-crime neighborhood. She was ultimately raped and thrown from a seventh-floor window, and now requires 24-hour care. The second case stemmed from the torturous acts of former police commander Jon Burge. The plaintiff served a 26-year sentence for a murder he did not commit, and received about $10 million in damages.
This most recent proposed settlement involves Officer Gildardo Sierra, who was caught on tape brutally shooting and killing an unarmed man on the South Side in 2011. The man, Flint Farmer, was running away from officers who were responding to reports of domestic abuse. Sierra apparently chased Farmer into an open lot on South Wolcott Avenue when Farmer reached into his pocket and pulled out a dark object. Upon seeing this, Officer Sierra immediately started shooting at Farmer, firing 16 shots, seven of which hit him in his abdomen and thighs. The man fell to the ground and lay motionless.
At this moment, a squad car appeared on Wolcott and captured the ensuing scene on video. The tape depicts Sierra walking up to the injured Farmer, circling around him, and firing three fatal shots into his back. It was later confirmed that Farmer was reaching for his cell phone, and he was unarmed.
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A few months prior to this incident, Officer Sierra was involved in two other shootings, one of which resulted in death. During court proceedings, Sierra testified that he was never given a psychological debriefing after these shootings, which is required by the state. Sierra was assigned to the overnight shift in Englewood in 2010, which he continued to work after the first two shootings, and during which he killed Farmer. Sierra has since been stripped of his official powers and assigned to work at Chicago’s 311 centers. The FBI is currently in the midst of an investigation into these shootings.
The family of Flint Farmer is seeking justice for what they consider to be an execution. City officials acknowledged the $4 million settlement only a few hours after a federal judge maintained a previous jury verdict which determined that Chicago police knowingly adhere to a “code of silence.” This unwritten “code” is enacted to protect rogue officers – such as Sierra – and it is very likely that this verdict had an effect on Farmer’s settlement.
The $4 million is intended to be put in a trust for Farmer’s three-year-old daughter. Although the Chicago Police Department officially ruled that the shooting was justified, the Superintendent acknowledged that this incident illuminates a significant problem. The Superintendent said that Sierra should not have been assigned to that shift given his history of violence, and should have been psychologically screened.
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Officer Sierra admitted to drinking several beers before he started his shift that night in 2011. In true Chicago fashion, however, officers failed to give him a breath test until five hours after the shooting. This failure all but proves that this unwritten code of silence and cover-up in Chicago is tried and true. The fact that Sierra was involved in three serious shootings over as six-month period, and never taken off duty or even psychologically screened, presents a major problem in the city’s systems.
Police brutality lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm recognize this fact, and advocate on behalf of victims of misconduct and their families. Brutality lawsuits involve law enforcement officers who abuse their power and violate someone’s constitutionally protected rights. If you or a loved one was the victim of a police assault, wrongful shooting, or false arrest, you may be entitled to financial compensation.