The Chicago Police Department is not having a particularly good month when it comes to lawsuits. Just a week after a 4 million dollar settlement to a man who claimed he was brutalized with a screwdriver, the Department was back in a federal courtroom in another civil case. This one didn’t work out well for the CPD either.
The case originated from a 2001 incident. An unidentified man had approached an 8 year old girl near her home and and offered to take her on a “field trip”. The girl’s mother overhead the discussion, raced outside and chased the guy away. She then called police and provided a description of the suspect. In addition, posters, which included a drawing of the suspect, were put up in the Southwest side neighborhood where the incident occurred.
The police then got a tip. Someone called in and said the guy on the poster looked like a guy he had gone to school with – Tim Finwall. Finwall was then arrested, although there was evidence he was bartending at a local tavern at the time of the incident. Finwall was placed in a lineup with four cops. The girl came in and told police the suspect could be “the short one” or the “tall one”. Not exactly a positive identification. Nonetheless, the police, in their reports, indicated that the girl had identified Finwall. Finwall was then charged with attempted child abduction. The case went to trial, and thankfully Finwall was acquitted. Interestingly, there was some evidence that perhaps the police had targeted Finwall because of an earlier incident. Apparently a police officer was drinking in the bar where Finwall worked and got into it with another patron. The officer allegedly made some threatening remarks to the patron and Finwall took the cop’s gun. Finwall was then charged with some sort of offense dealing with disarming a police officer, tried and convicted. He served no time.
After the jury heard all the evidence, Finwall was awarded $2 million in damages. The City is of course very disappointed in the verdict, and evaluating their options. Perhaps the City should carefully evaluate its options BEFORE the multimillion dollar verdict.