The family of a Chicago teen who was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer six years ago has been awarded $8.5 million by a jury, which reportedly needed less than three hours to reach its verdict in the wrongful death lawsuit.
The police have said that 18-year-old Aaron Harrison was shot after raising a gun at an officer during a chase, according to the Chicago Tribune.
However, five eyewitnesses testified that Harrison wasn't carrying a gun and didn't point one at an officer, and that they saw no gun near his body immediately after the shooting, said the family's attorney, James Montgomery, at a news conference Friday in his office.
"Then after the handcuffing — magically the gun appears," Montgomery said of the weapon police said they recovered. "Evidence pointed to a planted weapon on the ground."
Harrison’s mother said she hoped the verdict would influence other families who have sued over fatal police-involved shootings not to give up the fight.
"There's been a lot of times I wanted to give up, but I never give up on my kids," Annie Johnson said.
WLS-TV reported that a spokesperson says the city is disappointed with the decision and may file an appeal.
The city already has spent more than $54 million this year — twice what was budgeted — to settle police misconduct lawsuits.
Montgomery noted that the verdict could be read as a rebuke of the Independent Police Review Authority, which in 2009 found that the shooting was justified.
Protests over the shooting began the night it happened when five people were arrested for allegedly throwing rocks and bottles at police. Later there were two meetings between police and clergy over the shooting, and in 2007 a routine police board meeting was adjourned early when protesters angry over how the shooting was handled began chanting, "No justice, no peace!"