City to Pay 5 People Dragged from Their Car Near Brickyard Mall During Unrest $1.67M

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Five people who were pulled from their car by seven Chicago Police officers and beaten during the unrest that swept the city after the police murder of George Floyd during the summer of 2020 will get $1.67 million to settle their lawsuit against the city.

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The Chicago City Council voted 34-13 to settle the lawsuit, the first significant payment approved by city officials to compensate Chicagoans who alleged they were mistreated by Chicago Police officers during the unrest and protests that swept the city in the wake of Floyd’s murder. 

The relatively lopsided vote by the Chicago City Council came after Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward) said Feb. 17 that he was convinced that the four Black women and one Black man who were pulled from their car outside the Northwest Side’s Brickyard Mall were there to loot a sporting goods store because they would not have traveled from North Lawndale to shop at the mall for party supplies and items for a baby.

That comment was rebuked by other members of the Chicago City Council. 

Assistant Corporation Counsel Caroline Fronczak told alderpeople the probe of the incident by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability uncovered no evidence that tied Mia Wright, Tnika Tate, Kim Woods, Ebony Wilbourn and Javon Hill to any criminal activity.

None of the people in the car fit the description of a person an officer at the time alleged had a hammer, Fronczak said. There was no hammer or stolen goods recovered in the car, she added. 

The group was driving away from the mall after realizing the Target was closed because of the unrest when a swarm of officers approached the car and began using their batons to smash the car’s windows and demanded that they get out of the vehicle, causing “chaos and confusion,” Fronczak said.

None of the five people ever left their car while at the Brickyard Mall, Fronczak said.

Seven officers have been disciplined for their role in the incident by Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, including a recommendation that at least one officer be fired, Fronczak said.

The probe of the incident conducted by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability took three months, and was completed in September 2020 as part of a special unit created to handle the hundreds of complaints filed against officers after the wave of protests and unrest

Brown had 90 days to review those findings, and send his decision on whether the officers involved should be disciplined to the Law Department. The results of the probe have not yet been announced.

Wright, 26, who was studying to be an emergency medical technician, was pulled from the car by her hair by an officer. An officer restrained her by kneeling on her back and neck, according to the lawsuit.

The incident was captured by several bystanders on cellphone videos and prompted widespread outrage.

The proposed settlement will pay Wright $650,000 while the other members of the group will get $243,750 each. Disorderly conduct charges filed against Wright were dropped, officials said. Wright’s sight was damaged as a result of the incident, according to the lawsuit.

A probe by the city’s inspector general found that Chicago Police botched nearly every aspect of its response to the protests and unrest triggered by Floyd’s murder. A parallel probe by the team charged by a federal judge with overseeing reforms to the Chicago Police Department said it was unprepared for the protests and unrest.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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