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Archive for August, 2015

Fairfax Police Department Fires Officer in Death of Unarmed Man

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney

Nearly two years after the shooting of an unarmed man in broad daylight, the Fairfax, VA police finally made the move to fire the officer at the center of this tragic event.

As reported by the Washington Post in its ongoing coverage of the incident, Officer Adam D. Torres shot and killed John Geer without cause while he was standing at the doorstep of his home.  Officer Torres stated that he fired his weapon in the belief that Geer had suddenly lowered his hand as if going for a weapon.  This assertion was disputed by three of Torres’ fellow officers who were standing just steps away from the scene, as well as two civilians who were nearby.  Despite these eyewitness accounts, it remains to be seen whether Mr. Torres will be indicted in Geer’s death.

While we applaud the overdue decision of the Fairfax Police Department to terminate Torres, it’s important to note that police misconduct is race blind.  John Geer was Caucasian.  It’s also laudable that Mr. Geer’s family was awarded $3 million, the largest settlement involving a police shooting in Virginia.  Unfortunately, it’s taxpayers that foot the bill for these serious and often tragic indiscretions, and will continue to pay when police officers step outside the bounds of the law.


U.S. Cities Continue to Pay in Police-Misconduct Cases

Posted on: August 5th, 2015 by Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney

From small towns to big cities, the cost of police-misconduct cases has surged in the U.S. with taxpayers ultimately footing the bill.  According to data obtained by The Wall Street Journal through public-record requests, the 10 cities with the largest police departments paid out $248.7 million last year in settlements and court judgements in police misconduct cases, up 48 percent from $168.3 million in 2010.

This surge in payouts stems not just from new cases as highlighted by New York City’s $5.9 million settlement with the estate of Eric Garner, who died last summer after being placed in a banned police chokehold, but also from past indiscretions as seen in the City of Chicago’s payout of  more than $60 million in cases where people were wrongfully imprisoned for decades due to alleged police misconduct.

While big cities might be better equipped to deal with these payouts, taxpayers in smaller towns are more likely to feel the burden than their big city counterparts.  Property taxes that might have been directed to infrastructure improvements and schools are now being spent on lawsuits and settlements claiming police misconduct.  In fact, the suburban Detroit community of Inkster issued a one-time property tax assessment of nearly $200 to cover police brutality cases.

City governments, local police, and the U.S. legal system are all adjusting to the skyrocketing numbers and costs of police misconduct cases.  Some of the consequences are ominous, but others give hope. Cities are paying more attention to municipal insurance, engaging in risk-management strategies, and creating police litigation units.  On-officer and dashboard cameras are making it less likely that police misconduct incidents will go unnoticed.  And, the dire financial costs of litigation are encouraging police departments to root out the “bad actors.”

Victims of rogue police still face an uphill battle against powerful cities and police departments, but the chances of victory in court have never been greater than today.  At Romanucci & Blandin, we are staunch defenders of constitutional rights and have a demonstrated track record of fighting to curb excessive force by police.  We do so with compassion for the victim, and a belief that justice must be served.  If you believe you have suffered at the hands of the police, contact our Chicago Police Misconduct lawyers for a free consultation.