Finance committee signs two more settlements following allegations of police wrongdoing

The city council’s finance committee on Monday authorized a $400,000 settlement to a man whose knees were fractured when he was hit by an unmarked speeding SUV driven by a Chicago police officer.

The latest in a string of settlements linked to allegations of police wrongdoing goes to Darrin Johnson, 46, who claims Constable Ronald Ayala was negligent in that he ‘n didn’t give in to a pedestrian, didn’t watch properly and was driving too fast.”

The crash that broke Johnson’s legs and changed his life forever happened around 11:15 p.m. on April 17, 2017 at 76th and Carpenter streets.

Johnson and his cousin were walking east on 76th after watching a football game at the cousin’s house.

Assistant company attorney Mimi Ruether said Ayala and her partner said they were heading west on 76th when they saw a dark Chevrolet Tahoe pull out of the driveway just above past Carpenter without his headlights on, slam on his brakes, then turn left ahead of them.

Officer Ayala claims he turned around near the mouth of the driveway to follow the Tahoe and began to accelerate as he approached the intersection, where the crash occurred.

“Ayala testified that he did not turn on his lights and sirens because he thought it would alert the Tahoe that they were behind him and wanted to arrest him,” Ruether told the finance committee. .

Ruether said official documents undermine Ayala’s version of events.

“Neither the Illinois traffic accident report nor the report signed by Ayala mentions the Tahoe or any suspicious SUV,” Ruether said.

The unmarked police car was not equipped with a camera. Neither Ayala nor her partner wore body cameras.

Ayala and her partner testified that Johnson and her cousin crossed the street diagonally and Ayala “slammed on the brakes and tried to pull away” but Johnson “stopped” and the officer didn’t “couldn’t avoid it,” Ruether said.

Ayayla hit Johnson “with the front bumper of the SUV” and Johnson’s chest “went over the hood and he fell out of the SUV and into the street,” she said.

“Given that Constable Ayala had just turned around and was approaching a crosswalk, the plaintiff will argue that Constable Ayala either failed to watch properly or was going too fast or both. And the plaintiff will rely on the fact that neither the accident report nor the other report mentions the SUV or the Tahoe suspect as affecting the officer’s credibility,” Ruether said.

Although a jury could decide that Johnson was at fault in part, which would reduce any award, “the jury is likely to compensate Mr. Johnson for his medical expenses, pain and suffering and disability with an award in excess of the amount recommended”.

Also on Monday, the Finance Committee authorized a $200,000 settlement to Esael Morales, who claims he was framed by an inebriated Chicago police officer and the victim of a police cover-up aided and abetted by a “code of silence” from the police.

The settlement stems from a bizarre incident on October 13, 2020 in the 5200 block of South Monitor Street.

Morales and his girlfriend were sitting in a car around 10 p.m. when Officer Joseph Cabrera, who was off duty and out of uniform, pulled up behind them and asked if they needed help.

The couple refused, walked around the block and returned to find Cabrera behind them.

When Cabrera got out of his car and started yelling at the couple to leave, Morales got out and confronted Cabrera.

According to the company’s assistant attorney, Victoria Benson, that’s when Cabrera grabbed Morales, placed him in a “chokehold” and punched him in the head before pulling his Glock pistol and to fire it once in Morales’ direction, missing Morales, who ran to his girlfriend. and called 911.

In recordings released by the Civilian Police Accountability Office, Cabrera can be heard telling a 911 dispatcher, “He knocked me to the ground. He attacked me and I fired a bullet.

“He f—— attacked me and I took a turn.”

But a witness walking a dog at the time disputed Cabrera’s account, prosecutors said.

Due to Cabrera’s “false statement”, Morales was “treated as an offender” and taken into custody, only to be released without charge, Benson said.

After the shooting, Cabrera complained of chest pains and was taken to the hospital, where his blood alcohol level was 0.104, higher than the legal limit of 0.08.

An eight-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Cabrera has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated firearm discharge, misrepresentation and obstruction. He was stripped of his police powers upon his arrest in January 2021 and resigned from the CPD on May 6, 2021.

“The plaintiff will argue that any difference in treatment is evidence in support of his claim, as it goes to whether or not the officers blindly accepted Cabrera’s version of events,” Benson said.