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Aldermen approve $1.4 million settlement for mother of toddler killed in high-speed police chase;  $1.2million payment to two innocent men shot dead by off-duty cop now faces felony charges

CHICAGO (CBS) — A woman whose 13-month-old son was killed by a getaway driver during a high-speed police chase in July 2015 will receive a $1.4 million settlement from the city, in a lawsuit accusing the police for not calling the chase when she posed a significant risk to pedestrians.

Dillan Harris was sitting in a stroller as he and his mother waited at a bus stop near 63rd Street and Ellis Avenue on July 11, 2015, when 21-year-old Antoine Watkins jumped the sidewalk fleeing the police and ran over the toddler.

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Police had begun pursuing Watkins after seeing him flee the scene of a shooting about four miles away, nearly 77and and Kingston.

Dillan’s mother, Shatrell McComb, sued the city, saying officers should have called off the chase long before her son was killed, due to the danger of such a high-speed chase.

The company’s assistant solicitor, Mary Ruether, told aldermen the chase reached speeds of up to 87mph just two blocks from where Dillan was killed.

Ruether said an investigation into the chase determined officers violated several policies during the chase, including a ban on so-called “caravanning,” or chases involving more than two police cars. A total of four police vehicles were involved in the chase, including a police van, despite a rule prohibiting police vans from participating in any chase.

Additionally, an unmarked police car led the chase, despite a rule that unmarked cars only participated in pursuits until marked police cars took over.

Aldermen unanimously approved the $1.4 settlement with McComb.

Watkins was also a defendant in the lawsuit, but Ruether said he did not have enough assets to pay a damages judgment.

Watkins was charged with first degree murder in Dillan’s death, but was only convicted of reckless homicide and served 4 years and 9 months in prison before being released in 2020.

Meanwhile, the finance committee also approved $1.2 million with Jomner Orozco Carreto and Carlos Ramirez, after an off-duty officer shot them in December 2020, and later was charged with assault and battery. serious during the shooting.

Police say at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2020, Constable Kevin Bunge was sitting in a parking lot in the 3300 block of West Irving Park Road when he reported hearing gunshots. He then walked towards Carreto and Ramirez, who were parked behind him, and originally said the men first pointed guns at him, prompting him to open fire, wounding Carreto on the hand.

However, the only gun investigators found belonged to Bunge, and the video indicated the chain of events opposed to Bunge’s story.

After Bunge was charged with aggravated assault three months later, his attorneys changed the story slightly, saying he feared Carreto and Ramirez would hijack him after two previous failed carjackings in recent weeks.

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Carreto and Ramirez’s attorney, Brad Thomson, said Bunge overreacted when a car pulled up behind him.

“If you’re a person who views someone parking on the same street you parked as a deadly threat, that shows a problem with judgment,” Thomson said after Bunge’s March 2021 indictment.

Thomson said if Bunge believed the men were trying to hijack him, “a reasonable response might be to drive away.”

“Getting out of the vehicle and approaching individuals you are supposed to be afraid of is not reasonable,” Thomson said.

While Bunge now faces felony charges and has been suspended, Thomson said what is of greater concern to everyone is the duty the officer held at the time of the incident, as a instructor at the Chicago Police Academy.

“The fact that this officer is a use of force instructor for the Police Academy reflects that there is a systemic problem in the Chicago Police Department and how they train in the use of force. strength,” Thomson said.

The lawsuit Carreto and Ramirez filed a lawsuit that Carreto was driving at the time of the incident, while Ramirez was in the passenger seat. They were heading to another friend and traveling west on Irving Park Road at the time, the lawsuit said.

Ramirez was using his GPS to navigate and give directions to Carreto, and Carreto had doubts about the directions provided by the GPS and decided to stop to use the GPS safely on his own.

Carreto pulled to the side of the road on Irving Park Road, where the officer involved – identified in the lawsuit as Kevin Bunge – was sitting in an SUV parked in front of Carreto’s car after just finishing his shift of work, the lawsuit said. .

While Carreto and Ramirez were legally parked on the street trying to find directions, Bunge offered to hold a handgun and display a police star around his neck, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit went on to say Bunge shot them “without motive or justification,” prompting Carreto to speed up, call 911, and drive to a nearby store for help.

Carreto was shot in the hand and left seriously injured in two fingers, according to the lawsuit. The glass from the shattered car window also hit Ramirez in the face, and the sound of the gunshots was so loud it caused significant pain and hearing loss in his left ear.

Aldermen also approved a third million-plus settlement on Thursday involving another case accusing police of misconduct, as they agreed to a payment of $1.675 million to settle a lawsuit brought by five people who were violently assaulted by police officers at the Brickyard Mall for a widespread period. looting in May 2020, despite no evidence that the group was involved in any criminal activity.

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All three by-laws are now before the full city council for consideration next week.

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