CHICAGO, Feb. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- On February 19, 2020, the City Council of the City of Chicago approved a $10M settlement to compensate a man who was permanently paralyzed after being shot in the back by a Chicago Police Officer in 2012. The officer who fired the shots was one of several Chicago PD officers honored by the City of Chicago in 2013 for their heroic efforts related to the incident.
About the Case The settlement stems from the case of Tarance Etheredge (Tarance T. Etheredge, III v. City of Chicago, Mark Heinzel, Robert McGee, and Joseph Perez; Cook County Law Division, 17 L 2841), a Chicago man who was rendered paraplegic after being struck in the back by a Chicago PD Officer's bullet.
According to case documents, Etheredge had been walking to work when two men in an unmarked vehicle abruptly stopped and ordered Etheredge to "come here." Fearing for his life, Etheredge fled from the men – later identified as on-duty Chicago Police Officers Pedro Guzman and Robert McGee. Both officers claimed Etheredge was acting suspiciously, and that he had adjusted his waistband, indicating possible possession of a weapon.
After Etheredge fled, Officer McGee pursued on foot while Officer Guzman pursued in the unmarked vehicle. Two additional on-duty Chicago PD officers – Mark Heinzel and Joseph Perez – also joined the pursuit.
Upon realizing the individuals chasing him were law enforcement officers, court records show, Etheredge stopped in a nearby yard at 1518 E 77th St. Officer Mark Heinzel ran down the alley toward Etheredge, and claimed he saw Etheredge point a gun in the direction of another officer who was also located in the alley at the time. Officer Heinzel testified he was frightened and concerned for his safety and the safety of his fellow officers.
Within 2 to 4 seconds of arriving at the scene, Officer Heinzel fired four shots at Etheredge from roughly 25 feet behind. One of the bullets struck Etheredge in the back, paralyzing him from the waist down.
In court proceedings, Etheredge testified he was in possession of a firearm at the time of the incident. However, he testified the firearm was in his jacket pocket, and that he never held or pointed the firearm at any officer during the encounter. An Illinois State Police Forensics examination of Etheredge's gun returned no fingerprints, and found no bullet in the chamber.
Officers Recognized Prior to Settlement Five months after the incident, in May 2013, a Resolution for Gratitude Sponsored by Rahm Emmanuel was instituted by the City of Chicago. The resolution honored the officers involved in the Etheredge incident for a "heroic life-saving rescue," and for apprehension of an armed suspect without injury to "any innocent person."
On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the City Council of the City of Chicago approved a $10,000,000.00 settlement to compensate Tarance Etheredge for the injuries he sustained as a result of the willful and wanton conduct of the City of Chicago's Police Department – specifically, the same officers who received awards for their conduct in 2013.
Tarance Etheredge was represented by Larry R. Rogers, Jr. and Jonathan M. Thomas of Power Rogers, LLP.
Larry R. Rogers Jr. and Jonathan M. Thomas are Partner and Associate at the Chicago-based law firm of Power Rogers, LLP. A nationally recognized Civil Trial practice, Power Rogers has secured over $4 billion compensation for clients in a range of complex, high-profile cases, including claims against the government. Visit www.prslaw.com.