Chicago Cops Leave Woman in Criminal ‘Lion’s Den,’ Pay $22.5M
In the largest police misconduct case in Chicago history, the city will pay $22.5 million to settle a lawsuit by a woman who was raped and fell from a seventh-story window after officers left her in a high-crime area.
Christina Eilman was a 21-year-old college student when she was arrested at Midway Airport in May of 2006 because she was acting strangely and violently.
She was taken to a holding cell where she continued babbling incoherently and smearing menstrual blood on the walls. Her mother, Kathleen Paine, was set to testify in the jury trial that she frantically called police nine times, begging them not to release her daughter, who is bipolar and was having a breakdown.
Then on the following night, in a move U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook described as akin to “releas[ing] her into the lion’s den at the Brookfield Zoo,” the police released Eilman without transportation or assistance into a high-crime area. She was abducted, raped at knifepoint and then was either pushed or jumped from a window on the seventh floor of a public housing building in an effort to escape. She lapsed into a coma and was hooked up to machines that breathed for her and fed her. Although Eilman eventually emerged from her coma, she suffered permanent brain damage and partial paralysis as a result of her injuries and requires round-the-clock care.
The city decided to settle the case rather than risk letting a jury hear the damaging evidence, which could have included Christina herself. Even if she didn’t remember what happened to her, the jury would have seen that she speaks like a “pre-adolescent,” according to the family’s lawyer, Jeffrey Singer.
Chicago alderman Edward Burke estimated that the city might have had to fork over $80 million if a jury got the case.
The award will help pay for Christina’s extensive care.
“Christina will be able to have the gold standard of therapies that she’s not had access to over the past six and a half years,” said Singer, of the law firm Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney. “Now she will be able to go to certain rehabilitation centers that are the kind you would want for your daughter to go to.”