Christina Eilman was 21-years old when she was arrested in the midst of a mental breakdown at Chicago Midway Airport. It wasn’t what happened to cause her arrest or even while in police custody that the Chicago Police Department is paying for—it’s what happened after they released her.
Eilman’s case is just one of many facing the city of Chicago. Under the leadership of former police Commander Jon Burge, the department is accused of numerous cases of torture and misconduct. Burge is now serving 4 ½ years in federal prison for lying about the cases and so far, the lawsuits have cost the city about $60 million.
For Eilman, the actions of a few officers quite literally changed her life.
She was loud and uncontrollable at Midway, trying to catch a flight home to California in the midst of a bipolar breakdown. She “appeared to be out of her mind” according to the Chicago Tribune, so Chicago’s finest arrested her.
They held her overnight and through the next day. Throughout the hours leading up to her release, her parents repeatedly called the department and begged for them to not release her, begged for them to wait because they knew she was a danger to herself.
Still, at sundown the following day, the police dropped her off in one of the highest-crime areas of the city.
Eilman didn’t know the area, obviously. She wandered for a few hours before being approached in front of a take-out restaurant. Then, she was brutally assaulted in one of the city’s last high-rise housing projects. Following her rape by a “gang leader” she plunged seven stories out of the window to the sidewalk below.
Eilman suffered a permanent traumatic brain injury, a shattered pelvis, and numerous other broken bones and injuries. Due to her brain injury, she will never be the same.
The police department argued it was the gang leader’s fault, not theirs. But a judge saw things differently, calling the police’s actions that night like releasing her into a lion’s den.
Eilman was awarded $22.5 million, perhaps the largest of its kind for the city.
On the same day of Eilman’s settlement, another victim of the Chicago Police was having a pay day, with a proposed $10.2 million being awarded to Alton Logan, a man who spent 26 years in prison despite being innocent. Like many other cases of the time, Logan was coerced into confessing with torture and other forms of misconduct.
Not all cops are bad. But when you are accused of a crime, they certainly aren’t on your side. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, contact our offices today.