By Emma Kantor
CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago City Council Finance Committee is set to vote on a variety of settlements this week—totaling more than $14 million—as a result of misconduct by Chicago Police Department officers, including wrongful convictions, excessive police force and a stolen vehicle.
The first case focuses on the murder of a retired Chicago Police sergeant’s wife, Lula Mae Woods, who was found stabbed to death in her home garage in June 1989.
With only an alleged confession of the killing that came from what police said was an informant and a lack of physical evidence, this led to the conviction of Kevin Bailey and Corey Batchelor for this crime. Batchelor was sentenced to 30 years in prison and Bailey was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
At this time, Batchelor had been on parole since 2004 after spending 15 years behind bars and Bailey was released after spending 29 years in prison.
The findings from the review of the case included new DNA evidence that proved Bailey and Batchelor were innocent.
Innocence Project lawyers said “hair from a Domino’s Pizza hat found under Woods’ body does not match either man’s DNA, and neither does DNA evidence on a bloody towel found at the scene,” noting it proved their innocence by creating doubt they were guilty, diminishing the burden of proof.
There was also evidence found suggesting the initial confession was not at the free will of the wrongfully convicted men as the same officers who took their confession were accused of “choking and beating suspects in other cases to obtain false confessions.”
Now, the wrongfully convicted duo have filed lawsuits which could result in a $14 million payout.
Another settlement that will be put forward involves a $125,000 payment to the mother of Terrance Harris, who was a college student recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and shot 29 times by police in 2013.
The mother, Lenora Bonds, had called police in October 2013 regarding a violent episode that her son was having that day. Harris stabbed his mother and an officer with a butcher knife and retreated to the furnace room.
When officers found him, Harris lunged at them, officers claim. Police responded with 29 shots.
Bonds and her attorneys found the shooting unjustified and an excessive use of force, especially in light of Harris’ mental illness.
The Independent Police Review Authority cleared the three officers involved in Harris’ murder.
One more proposed settlement of $425,000 will be brought up in regard to the police officer shooting of Dejuan Harris, who in 2016 was shot by police in Englewood after an altercation involving stolen license plates on Harris’ vehicle.
Upon being pulled over Harris allegedly pointed a gun at police before throwing the gun away, and running away. The police then shot him.