In recent years, several high-profile cases of Chicago police brutality have come to light. Some officers involved in these videotaped beatings or incidents of excessive force have been suspended and others given jail time. But Officer Alvin Weems, who shot and killed an unarmed man in 2003, got promoted.
On Thursday, after years of hearings, the city agreed to pay $3 million to the family of the man that Weems killed.
On March 8, 2003, Michael Pleasance arrived at a CTA Red Line station where Officer Weems was breaking up a fight on the train platform, according to an in-depth Chicago Reader report on the incident from 2007. Weems' police shirt was covered by a coat and he was wearing a hat, leaving some at the station unaware that he was a police officer.
As Weems detained Pleasance's friend, the 23-year-old stood nearby holding his friend's coat--until Weems turned and shot him in the face. (Scroll down for video) Pleasance was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.
After the incident, Officer Weems admitted that the shooting was not justified, and the city also acknowledged that the officer was wrong. So, in 2007, a jury was asked to determine how much the city should pay for the mistake, according to ABC Chicago.
"Yes, there is a parent's unconditional love, but Michael Pleasance dropped out of high school, did time in prison for drugs, didn't hold a job, and showed little initiative to fine one," attorneys for the city said at the time.
The jury apparently dismissed those comments--and decided to award Pleasance's mother $12.5 million. The award was one of the largest in the city's history involving a police shooting, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Illinois Appellate Court overturned it, saying "the trial jury had been prejudiced by repeated use of the term 'willful and wanton' to describe the officer's conduct."
This week, however, the Daley administration finally decided to pay up: awarding Pleasance's mother $3 million for the wrongful death of her son.
"His mother said from the beginning there was no way her son would ever try to grab a gun from a police officer -- and he didn't," Allen Schwartz, an attorney for Pleasance's mother, told the Sun-Times. "But the only reason they admitted responsibility was the whole thing was captured on videotape. It was an unprovoked shooting. Michael was standing there holding his friend's jacket and got shot in the face."
Schwartz added that his client just wants the whole thing to be over.
The Sun-Times explains what happened to Weems:
The Office of Professional Standards -- now called the Independent Police Review Authority -- initially recommended that Weems be fired. Then-Police Supt. Phil Cline reduced the penalty to a 30-day suspension, then promoted Weems to the rank of detective.
Read more about the history of the case here.
WATCH the surveillance video from the 2003 incident here. Warning: Graphic content.
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