City to pay $325K to hemophiliac beaten by cop, falsely charged - New York News

City to pay $325K to hemophiliac beaten by cop, falsely charged with DUI

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Chicago taxpayers will spend $325,000 to compensate a hemophiliac falsely charged with DUI, then beaten by a Chicago Police officer while handcuffed to a metal bar in a holding room.

Julio Martinez was treated for a possible skull fracture after a May 2009 beating administered by Chicago Police Officer John Haleas, who was once Chicago's most prolific officer in making DUI arrests, only to be stripped of his police powers after being accused of falsifying drunken driving arrests.

Haleas wracked up 718 arrests in 2005 and 2006, only to have 156 of those cases dismissed after his arrest. Two Cook County prosecutors were the original witnesses to the officer's alleged failure to give a DUI suspect a field sobriety test or tell the man he could refuse to take a Breathalyzer test.

He was indicted and relieved of his police powers in 2008 and pleaded guilty four years later to misdemeanor attempted obstruction of justice.

Haleas received a five-day suspension subsequently reduced to a one-day suspension by the Police Board. He is now assigned to the Records Division.

The $325,000 settlement was approved Monday by the City Council's Finance Committee, but not before aldermen demanded to know why Haleas was still being paid by Chicago taxpayers.

"The exposure that we're seeing from people like Mr. Haleas — it's just compounded more and more when a decision is not made" to fire him, said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), a former Chicago Police officer, added, "We didn't hire him to work in the Records Division without any sworn [powers]...Here we are again in the same situation with an officer who committed a criminal act. Other officers…can testify and represent the city well. This person cannot, but he's been given continuing employment status after admitting to this wrongdoing? . . . That we would support a person like this continuing to get a payroll check? I don't think that's appropriate."

Terry Ekl, an attorney representing Martinez, was equally incensed.

Ekl also represented a diminutive bartender beaten by former Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate in a case that culminated in a $850,000 damage award and a precedent-setting finding that a "code of silence" in the Chicago Police Department played a role in the videotaped beating.

"The city is still paying him the same amount of money to sit in an office to answer a telephone when police officers should be on the street protecting citizens," Ekl said.

"It's reprehensible. It's part of the failure of the Chicago Police Department to appropriately investigate and discipline police officers engaging in misconduct, which is a part of the code of silence."

The Finance Committee also approved a $200,000 settlement to an alleged robbery suspect who suffered a severe leg injury after being run over by a Chicago Police officer in May, 2009.

The officer initially denied running over plaintiff R.L. Johnson, then admitted hitting Johnson, but inisisted it was an accident. Video from the squad car camera in the lead pursuit vehicle is "missing" and has not been located, Deputy Corporation Counsel Leslie Darling said.

The injured man was "found with drugs on his person," but had no weapon and the robbery victim declined to press charges.

"The court has ruled that it will allow argument that the missing video was deliberately destroyed, although we have no evidence of such destruction," Darling said.

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