CHICAGO (CBS) — A large verdict was issued against the Village of Dolton after a deadly crash involving police there.
In the verdict Wednesday, a total of $33.5 million was paid out to the family of a man killed during an attempted police stop in Dolton, and another man who was severely injured.
As CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey reported Thursday, attorneys say it all started with a driver rolling through a stop sign.
A Cook County jury awarded the family of the man who died $10 million, and the man who suffered a traumatic brain injury $23 million.
The families told us justice has been almost six years in the making. The fatal chase happened back in October 2016.
“Blasting through stop sign after stop sign after stop sign and chasing a driver who is showing no sign of stopping, police are supposed to ask themselves – is it worth it if somebody innocent’s going to get hurt?” said Jon Loevy of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law.
John Christopher Kyles lost his life.
Duane Dunlap was severely injured.
Both were passengers in a car driven by a man named Demetrius Sorrells, who according to the lawsuit, skidded through a stop sign near Greenwood Road and Sibley Boulevard in Dolton.
Dolton police executed a high-speed chase at that point, exceeding 80 miles per hour and passing through multiple stop signs, according to wrongful death lawsuit.
The chase lasted about a mile until the car crashed behind the New Zion Covenant Church. Kyles was killed, and attorneys say Dunlap suffered severe, permanent injuries.
Sorrells was charged with reckless homicide and named alongside the Village of Dolton in the lawsuit.
“This is about irresponsibility, and what happened yesterday was a jury of Cook County citizens didn’t bring back John Kyles; didn’t make Duane Dunlap whole again, but signaled loud and clear with the magnitude of this verdict that what happened was wrong,” said Locke Bowman of Loevy & Loevy.
Court filings also stated that Dolton has one of the highest — if not the very highest — rates of police chases in Illinois.
In the five years prior to this chase, Dolton had been involved in approximately 50 police chases. About half resulted in crashes involving personal injury, or death, or property damage.
Dunlap’s mother told us the settlement doesn’t make the family whole, but it will help them cover his vast medical expenses.
“It’s not going to make him well, but will help us have a comfortable life,” said Sabrina Wright.
Dolton Village Administrator Keith Freeman issued the following statement:
“The judgment against the Village of Dolton is the result of unfortunate events that took place under the previous administration. Worsening the impact of this tragedy, the Dolton Board of Trustees chose to walk out of a recent meeting instead of appropriately considering a previous settlement offer from the defendants’ counsel that would have saved the taxpayers of Dolton millions of dollars. Nonetheless, we are committed to working with the Board of Trustees, as well as the Village’s legal counsel, Michael Bersani of Hervas, Condon & Bersani, P.C., and its insurance carriers, to reach an appropriate course going forward, including the potential pursuit of an appeal.”
We also heard from an attorney for one of the officers involved, who said the verdict rendered by the jury had nothing to do with the actions or inactions of Dolton police officers.