The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved a trio of settlements totaling $3.3 million, including one in the case of an autistic man who was shot by an off-duty sergeant nearly three years ago.
The city council affirmed $2.25 million for Ricardo Hayes, a then-18-year-old who was shot in the chest and the arm in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2017.
Two of the three settlements, including the one for Hayes, were approved without a roll call. The third, a $300,000 agreement for a man who claimed he was imprisoned for four years based on due process violations, was approved by a 33-16 vote.
Video of the incident from a home in the Morgan Park neighborhood showed Hayes running down a sidewalk, then stopping and turning around to peer at an approaching vehicle in the street. Hayes took a few steps toward the vehicle before gunshots rang out, and he turned and continued running.
The video was released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. The group also determined the officer involved, Sgt. Khalil Muhammad, was not justified in the use of force, and that Hayes could not have been expected to obey his commands because he had on a civilian jacket and was in a personal vehicle at the time.
The office ultimately recommended a six-month suspension for the police officer. The Chicago Police Board concurred and approved the suspension in December.
Hayes had filed a federal suit against the city and Muhammad a year after the shooting, in August 2018, citing excessive force and false arrest claims, among other things. The filing also claimed the department’s initial characterization of the events was false, pointing to a news conference in which then-Supt. Eddie Johnson said Hayes became elusive after Muhammad questioned him, and that the situation “escalated.”
”The video clearly shows Ricky, unarmed and standing harmlessly 20 feet from Officer Muhammad’s truck when he was shot, not approaching or threatening Officer Muhammad in any way,” the complaint stated. “There was no ‘escalation’ between Ricky and Officer Muhammad. Officer Muhammad simply shot Ricky multiple times while he stood far away posing no threat.”
Gabriel P. Hardy, of Goodman Tovrov Hardy & Johnson LLC, represented Hayes. He noted in an interview Wednesday that the terms of the settlement were reached during a December 2019 mediation before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey I. Cummings.
“We’re pleased the city honored the settlement terms,” Hardy said in an interview after the vote Wednesday. He also said he thought the officer should have been fired.
“There’s no justification” for the shooting, Hardy said, adding: “Ricardo Hayes wasn’t doing anything wrong. He’s a mentally handicapped young man who snuck out of his foster house. He wasn’t a danger to anybody.”
The case is Ricardo Hayes v. City of Chicago, No. 18 C 5515.
The second of the police-involved settlements was a $300,000 agreement for Pierre Green, who claimed he was falsely jailed for possession of a stolen vehicle and being an armed habitual criminal. His civil suit, filed in 2015, claimed he was arrested while jogging in 2009, and that officers violated his due process rights by fabricating evidence against him.
Blake W. Horwitz, of The Blake Horwitz Law Firm, Ltd., represented Green in the case. He could not be reached for comment.
That case is Pierre Green v. Officer Victor Florez, No. 15 C 7928.
The council also voted to approve a $750,000 settlement for Artis Aquino, who was rear-ended by a city garbage truck. He filed his claims in Cook County Circuit Court in November 2017.
That case is Artis Aquino v. City of Chicago, 17 L 11852.
A spokesperson for the city Law Department said in an email Wednesday that the office “recommended these settlements be approved and we are pleased with the [c]ouncil’s actions today.”