By Hal Dardick
5:20 PM CST, January 31, 2014
The Chicago City Council next week is expected to approve a $4.5 million payout to settle a lawsuit filed after police fatally shot an aspiring West Side rapper known as “The Saint."
Freddie “Latee” Wilson, 34, was shot 18 times by three police officers in November 2007 in the Austin neighborhood, according to a report by the Cook County Medical Examiner.
At the time, police said the shooting occurred during a traffic stop and a weapon was found outside Wilson’s car. But witnesses cited in the suit contended Wilson was unarmed and walking to his car on first block of Lorel Avenue. Wilson, an ex-offender and a father of three, rapped about the dangers of the streets.
In another case that didn’t go the city’s way, City Hall must pay $1.9 million to Todd Smart, a former amateur triathlete who badly injured his shoulder in July 2007 while riding on a Lincoln Park street that was stripped down to a rough surface for repaving.
While trying to navigate a protruding manhole cover, the bicycle’s front tire got caught in a groove, and Smart spilled onto the pavement. The impact caused multiple fractures to his shoulder and arm and a dislocation where they meet, according to court documents.
“He was somebody who was in incredible physical shape and operated physically at a very, very high function,” said Smart’s attorney, Regina Etherton.
Etherton said the case set a precedent by allowing an easier-to-prove legal standard of city negligence when it comes to pavement and sidewalks. “Now they really do have exposure to thousands and thousands of plaintiffs who before may not have even considered pursuing their cases, because lawyers were telling them they may have all these hurdles,” Etherton said.
The City Council Finance Committee will consider the $4.5 million payout to Wilson’s family on Monday. The $1.9 million verdict must be paid because there are not further appeal options after the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the case, a Law Department spokesman said.
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