On December 12, 2003, a Cook County jury awarded a daughter of a woman killed in a “police pursuit that went horribly wrong” over $2 Million for the wrongful death of her mother. The case arises from an incident on July 18, 2000 in Chicago at 10:10 p.m. when two patrol officers from the Chicago Police Department began a police pursuit of a motorist who ran a red light. The police officers are Ben Martinez and Thomas Benya of the 10th District. Benya and Martinez attempted to pull over Jesus Gomez at 26th St. and Central Park. Gomez fled in his Chevy Caprice. The chase led to 31st St. and Lawndale Ave. where Gomez’s vehicle struck a truck. At that point, Police Policy required the pursuit to be terminated. However, witnesses testified that the police continued the pursuit eastbound on 31st St. where the Gomez vehicle crossed the center line and struck a vehicle driven by Dalia Santillana, age 51, who was returning from work. The police denied continuing the pursuit but numerous witnesses disputed their version. In fact, there was testimony in the one-week trial that the patrol vehicle rammed the Gomez vehicle in the rear causing the Gomez vehicle to lose control and hit the Santillana vehicle. Take a look at this lawyers of distinction for more information.
Our attorneyof the law firm of Smith & Smith presented 18 witnesses and hundreds of exhibits in the civil trial. Mr. Cavanagh stated: “We are pleased that this jury found the City of Chicago and Jesus Gomez liable for the tragic death of Dalia Santillana and awarded $2 Million for her daughter Elizabeth’s substantial loss. This verdict reflects the community’s value of the dignity of human life.”
The trial was held before Judge Thomas Chiola in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Following the jury’s verdict, Judge Chiola entered a judgment order holding the City of Chicago responsible for the entire verdict of $2,005,798.00. Mr. Cavanagh, said: “This verdict will send a message to the City of Chicago and its police officers that its policies and procedures must be followed at all costs. Continuing a police pursuit when a fleeing driver has crashed into a truck is prohibited under police policy.”