Pay $8.75M to Family of Man Killed by CPD Officer After He Called 911 for Help, City Lawyers Recommend

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Chicago taxpayers should pay $8.75 million to the family of a man shot and killed by a Chicago Police officer after the man called 911 for help while being threatened by his wife, who had a knife, city lawyers recommended.

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Michael Craig, 61, called 911 on the morning of Oct. 4, 2021, pleading for help and telling the dispatcher that his wife had a knife to his throat. That 911 call recorded Craig telling his 6-year-old son to go downstairs and open the door for the police, according to the lawsuit filed by Patrick Jenkins, another of Craig’s sons.

The proposed settlement is set to be considered Monday by the City Council’s Finance Committee. A final vote of the City Council could come on Wednesday.

If approved, the settlement would be the largest police misconduct settlement approved by the City Council in 2023, and the largest since May 2022, when the Chicago City Council agreed to pay $14.25 million to Daniel Taylor, who spent 21 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

When Chicago Police Officer Alberto Covarrubias arrived to Craig’s home, Covarrubias was holding his Taser and his gun. As he entered, Covarrubias simultaneously fired his gun, striking Craig, as well as his Taser. Craig collapsed to the floor in the bathroom, according to the lawsuit.

Covarrubias then shot Craig a second time as he lay on the bathroom floor, according to the lawsuit.

Before deploying his weapon, Covarrubias “was told five times that the aggressor who possessed a deadly weapon was a woman,” including by the son of the victim, according to the lawsuit.

Although Craig had been fatally wounded, Covarrubias did not offer medical attention. Instead, Covarrubias asked Tiffany Willis, Craig’s wife, who was holding a knife when Covarrubias entered their home, if she was injured and checked her body for wounds, according to the lawsuit.

Willis was not injured, and was later charged with stabbing Craig five times just as Covarrubias entered their home. An autopsy determined Craig denied from multiple gunshot wounds.

A probe into the incident by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability remains open, according to the website of the agency charged with investigating police misconduct.

In 2018, former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson recommended Covarrubias be fired for threatening an officer while he was being detained after a drunken altercation with a woman and refused a direct order to take a breathalyzer test. That incident took place in 2016.

In August 2019, the Chicago Police Board found Covarrubias committed eight rule violations but declined to follow Johnson’s recommendation that he be terminated. Instead, Covarrubias was suspended until he could present evidence that he was fit for duty.

The police board unanimously reinstated Covarrubias as a police officer in November 2019 after he completed treatment for alcohol addiction, according to police board records.

Covarrubias remains a Chicago Police officer, earning $101,412 annually, according to the city’s employee database.

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

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