Stories by Heather Cherone

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

City Council Votes to Pay $50M to 4 Men Who Each Spent Nearly 20 Years in Prison for Double Murder They Didn’t Commit

The proposed settlement calls for taxpayers to pay $21 million and the city’s insurance company to pay $29 million.

Mayor Brandon Johnson speaks to the news media on June 12, 2024. (WTTW News)

Johnson Defends Decision to Begin Evicting Migrant Families With Children From City Shelters

“We are still living up to our values,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said. “We are providing care in a way that nowhere else in the country you’re seeing.”

Former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke makes his way through security at the Dirksen Courthouse on Nov. 6, 2023. (WTTW News)

Send Ex-Ald. Ed Burke to Prison for 10 Years for ‘Multiyear Crime Spree,’ Prosecutors Urge Judge

Despite having a net worth of $30 million, now former Ald. Ed Burke was “steeped in corruption,” repeatedly choosing “spite and greed – not the public interest,” prosecutors told U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall.

A homeless encampment in Humboldt Park. (WTTW News)

Number of Unhoused Chicagoans Tripled Amid Surge of Migrants, Survey Found

“We aren’t rising to the occasion,” said Doug Schenkelberg, executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. He called the survey results “disheartening but not surprising.”

The former industrial building at 2241 S. Halsted St. that has been converted into the city's largest shelter. (WTTW News)

More Than Half of Migrants Forced to Leave City Shelters Immediately Returned, Chicago Officials Say

The acknowledgement that approximately 500 people returned to city shelters after living there for at least two months raises new questions about plans by officials to start evicting families with school-age children from city shelters on Monday.

(WTTW News)

Pay $5.8M to Settle Lawsuit Alleging Rampant Racism and Sexism at Water Department, City Lawyers Recommend

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly ruled there was enough evidence for a jury to conclude “that the city had a custom or policy of condoning racial harassment and discrimination at (the Water Department) as well as inaction in the face of a risk of potential constitutional violations.”

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

City Council Set to Fill Vacant Seats on Ethics Board After Months of Delays

The Chicago City Council is poised to fill two long-vacant seats on the city's Board of Ethics after Mayor Brandon Johnson faced months of criticism from good-government advocates.

(WTTW News)

Key City Panel Advances Plan to Ban Lobbyists From Giving Campaign Cash to Mayors

The proposal, based on a unanimous recommendation by the Chicago Board of Ethics, now heads to a final vote at the City Council meeting set for June 12.

(WTTW News)

Pay $2M to Family of Man Killed by CPD Officer in 2014, City Lawyers Recommend

Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson, 25, was shot and killed by Officer George Hernandez in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 2014, near 53rd Street and King Drive.

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Pay $50M to 4 Men Who Each Spent Nearly 20 Years in Prison for Double Murder They Didn’t Commit, City Lawyers Recommend

The City Council’s Finance Committee is set to consider the proposed settlement, which calls for taxpayers to pay $21 million and the city’s insurance company to pay $29 million.

Former Ald. Ed Burke in federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall on Dec. 5, 2023. (WTTW News)

Lawyers for Ex-Ald. Ed Burke Ask Federal Judge to Toss His Racketeering Conviction

After the three-hour hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall declined to issue a ruling immediately, instead promising a written order “shortly.”

Inspector General Deborah Witzburg appears on “Chicago Tonight” on June 4, 2024. (WTTW News)

Watchdog Warns of ‘Persistent Concerns’ About CPD’s Plan to Handle DNC Protests

“I am heartened by the progress CPD has made,” Inspector General Deborah Witzburg said. “I think Chicagoans should be heartened. I think there are persistent concerns. I think there is time to address them.”

Chicago Police Department Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Federal Court Monitor: Chicago Police Made ‘Incremental Progress’ in Reform Push

The Chicago Police Department has fully met just 7% of the consent decree’s requirements, according to the most recent report by the team monitoring CPD’s progress.

(Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Johnson’s Plan to Speed Up Efforts to Spend Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds Before It’s Too Late Set to Take Center Stage at City Hall

In all, Chicago spent $202 million on a host of programs including affordable housing, mental health, violence prevention, youth job programs and help for unhoused Chicagoans through March 31, records show.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Mayor Brandon Johnson Unveils Plan to Test Whether City Crews Should Clear Sidewalks of Snow and Ice

The “Plow the Sidewalks” campaign sought to convince officials that the city has an obligation to ensure people with disabilities and other vulnerable residents can get around safely even in the worst winter weather.

Left: Mayor Brandon Johnson speaks at a news conference Wednesday, March 20, 2024. Right: CTA President Dorval Carter speaks at a Chicago City Council meeting Feb. 27, 2024. (WTTW News)

Chicago City Council Ratchets Up Pressure on Johnson Over Transit Issues

Allies of the mayor used a parliamentary maneuver Wednesday to prevent a vote on the nomination of the Rev. Ira Acree to serve on the board of the Regional Transportation Authority, an acknowledgment they did not have the votes to confirm the politically connected pastor.

ShotSpotter screen. (WTTW News)

City Council Votes 34-14 to Endorse Effort to Overturn Mayor Brandon Johnson’s Decision to Scrap ShotSpotter

The vote represented a significant rebuke of Mayor Brandon Johnson and the central promise of his campaign, which vowed to address the root causes of crime and violence rather than focusing on law enforcement.

Chicago Police Department Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

As Permanent Chicago Police Board Takes Office, Reform Advocates Push to Expand Its Power With Ballot Measure

Before the newly confirmed members can be sworn in to serve four-year terms on the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, reform advocates introduced a proposal to expand the board’s power through a binding ballot measure.

A protester faces a line of police officers in Chicago on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hugo Balta / WTTW News)

Taxpayers Spend Another $1.3M to Settle Lawsuits Accusing CPD Officers of Misconduct During Protests, Unrest in 2020

In all, Chicago taxpayers have spent at least $6.8 million to defend and settle lawsuits alleging Chicago police officers committed a wide range of misconduct during the protests and unrest during the summer of 2020, according to an analysis by WTTW News.

The partly obscured window of the holding cell at the Grand Crossing (3rd District) Police District where Irene Chavez died in December 2021. (Civilian Office of Police Accountability)

Chicago Taxpayers to Pay $1.75M to Family of Woman Who Died in Police Holding Cell

Irene Chavez died while in police custody on Dec. 18, 2021. Eleven officers are set to be disciplined for failing to prevent her death, as first reported by WTTW News.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Police Department Consent Decree Set to Expand to Include Traffic Stops After Fatal Shooting of Dexter Reed

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer will hold an all-day hearing on June 11 to hear testimony from Chicagoans about CPD’s use of traffic stops and whether the court should have authority over the policy governing when officers can stop motorists.

(WTTW News)

ShotSpotter Showdown Set Amid Fierce Debate Over Value of Gunshot Detection System

Ald. David Moore told WTTW News he will force a vote on an order that accuses Mayor Brandon Johnson of having “usurped the will of the City Council and their ability to represent constituents” by canceling the city’s contract with SoundThinking, which operates the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system.

The partly obscured window of the holding cell at the Grand Crossing (3rd District) Police District where Irene Chavez died in December 2021. (Civilian Office of Police Accountability)

Suspend 8 CPD Officers Responsible for Woman Who Died in Chicago Police Custody for No More Than 2 Months Each: Misconduct Agency, Top Cop Agree

The final agreement calls for 11 officers to serve suspensions totaling 275 days for their conduct that led to the death by suicide of a 33-year-old woman in December 2021, records show.

Anjanette Young and her attorney Keenan Saulter speak outside the James R. Thompson Center on June 16, 2021. (Matt Masterson / WTTW News)

Federal Judge Overseeing Chicago Police Department Reforms Won’t Ban No-Knock Warrants or Tighten Restrictions on Raids

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer rejected nearly all of the demands made by the coalition of police reform groups behind the consent decree, the federal court order requiring CPD to change the way it trains, supervises and disciplines officers.

Brandon Johnson takes “Chicago Tonight” on a tour of the Austin neighborhood on April 13, 2023. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Analyzing Brandon Johnson’s 1st Year in Office: Push for Progressive Change Complicated by Migrant Crisis, Unforced Errors

“People put me in charge to change course. And what is very clear, I say this with all due humility, people know we are changing course in this city. There should be no doubt in anyone’s minds that we are moving in another direction. I believe people are up for it. And I’m looking forward to the implementation of many of the things that we’ve already put forward.”

(WTTW News)

Key City Panel OKs 6 of Mayor’s 7 Picks to Serve on Chicago Police Oversight Board

The City Council’s Police and Fire Committee unanimously advanced the nominations of Anthony Driver Jr., Remel Terry, Aaron Gottlieb, Abierre Minor, Kelly Presley and Sandra Wortham to serve four-year terms on the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.