Police Pursuits Cost Chicago Taxpayers $51.4M From 2019 to 2023 as Toll is Set to Nearly Double: Analysis

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Chicago taxpayers spent $51.4 million from 2019 to 2023 to resolve lawsuits brought by 16 people injured during police pursuits, according to an analysis of city data by WTTW News.

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That toll is set to nearly double, as the Chicago City Council considers paying $45 million to resolve a lawsuit that alleges an unauthorized chase left a 15-year-old boy with a traumatic brain injury, unable to walk or talk.

In April 2021, Nathen Jones was riding in a car that failed to stop at Wood and Huron streets in Ukrainian Village. Chicago Police Officer Jhonathan Perez, driving an unmarked police SUV, gave chase — even though Chicago Police Department policy prohibits officers from pursuing those who are only suspected of committing a traffic violation.

The pursuit ended at Damen and Grand avenues when the car that Jones was riding in collided with another car, leaving the teen severely and permanently injured.

Jones needs around-the-clock care and is unable to walk, speak or feed himself, according to the lawsuit filed on his behalf.

The City Council’s Finance Committee unanimously endorsed on Monday the proposed settlement, which calls for taxpayers to pay $20 million and the city’s insurance company to pay $25 million. A final vote of the City Council could come on Wednesday.

It will not be the first time Chicago taxpayers pony up to resolve a lawsuit alleging misconduct by Perez. It will be the third time, according to reports published by the Chicago Law Department.

Perez, who joined CPD in 2015, remains a Chicago Police officer, and there is no evidence he has been disciplined in connection with the 2021 crash. He earns $102,870 annually.

Those lawsuits have cost Chicago taxpayers $155,000 between 2019 and 2022. In addition, Perez was involved in two separate on-duty car crashes during April 2021, when Jones was grievously inured, according to Chicago Police data obtained by WTTW News.

Perez is one of 141 Chicago police officers whose alleged misconduct led more than once to payouts between 2019 and 2022, costing taxpayers $142.8 million, according to an analysis of city data by WTTW News.

If approved by the City Council, the settlement for Jones would be among the largest in city history. In 2019, the City Council agreed to pay $19.25 million to the family of a 37-year-old woman killed after the van she was riding in was struck by a police car driven by officers chasing what they believed to be a stolen car.

In 2022, the city paid $15 million to the family of a woman who was struck and killed by a speeding police car during a June 2020 chase the officer had been ordered to stop, and $1.4 million to the family of a 13-month-old who died when his family was struck in July 2015 by a car fleeing police.

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

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