Mimesis Law
24 January 2020

Chicago To Pay $4.9 Million For Killing Philip Coleman

Apr. 7, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration agreed to pay roughly $4.9 million to the Estate of Philip Coleman, a 38-year old black man who died in police custody in 2012. News of this settlement arrives almost a year to the day after the Chicago City Council settled with the family of Laquan McDonald for $5 million, the 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer on October 20, 2014.

Coleman’s case is yet another case of police brutality that has been caught on tape in Chicago, provoking scrutiny and criticism for Emanuel and his administration. As The New York Times reports

[T]he fallout from the videos has led to the departure of the police superintendent, the creation of a task force to study police accountability, the replacement of the head of the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, a federal investigation into Chicago police practices and a series of protests.

It has also led to Chicago residents calling for Emanuel to step down.

Coleman’s death did not garner much publicity when it happened in 2012. But in December 2015, just hours after the dashcam video of the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson was released, the Chicago police department also turned over footage showing Coleman being repeatedly shot with a Taser while surrounded by guards in his holding cell, and then dragged down the hallway by his handcuffs.

Coleman was arrested when his family called the police after he threatened his mother in an apparent psychotic episode. Coleman’s mother allegedly told the police that her son needed medical attention. According to Percy Coleman, the police told them, “We don’t do hospitals, we do jail.”

Coleman died later that night from a severe allergic reaction to an antipsychotic drug that was administered to him at a nearby hospital, and the coroner ruled his death an accident. However, his autopsy revealed that he had more than 50 bruises and abrasions on his body from his time in police custody, and these findings motivated Coleman’s family to file a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department.  

Shortly after the Coleman video was released last December, Rahm Emanuel issued a statement denouncing the Chicago police department for its brutal treatment of Coleman,

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.

A week later, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly found that Officer Keith Kirkland and Sgt. Tommy Walker had used excessive force against Coleman and were liable for damages, declaring that they “chose to use brute force when it was no longer necessary.” Kirkland is the officer seen dragging Coleman from the cell under Walker’s supervision.

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