Evanston to pay $150,000 settlement in civil rights suit

Tori Latham, Features Editor

Aldermen unanimously approved Monday a $150,000 settlement agreement in a civil rights suit brought against the city in 2014.

The plaintiff, Michigan resident Sean Rattray, sued the city and other defendants following an incident involving police officers that occurred in Evanston on Nov. 9, 2012, according to council documents. He additionally brought claims of excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecution against the individual officers involved in the situation, according to a legal memorandum.

The settlement approved by the city gives Rattray $150,000 from the city’s Insurance Fund and ensures the prejudice claims brought by Rattray against all defendants will be dismissed once the payment has been received. The agreement is not an admission of liability by the city, according to council documents.

“The city of Evanston takes claims of these sorts very seriously and wanted on the one hand to be fair to the taxpayers of Evanston as well as fair to the individual involved, and sometimes that takes time,” city manager Wally Bobkiewicz told The Daily.

Bobkiewicz added that the city has been “fortunate” not to deal with many cases of this kind.

According to the legal memorandum, Rattray, who previously lived in Evanston, claimed he left a 7-Eleven near his home and was followed home by police officers who taunted him. Rattray said one of the officers attempted to grab him, causing him to stumble and fall. Once he was on the ground, he said he was beaten unconscious.

The officers, however, denied he was ever unconscious. They said Rattray struck one of the officers and fought with both of them while they attempted to arrest him. They said they called for backup because they were unable to restrain Rattray, but said he still resisted arrest.

Following the incident, Rattray was charged with criminal trespass to real property, aggravated battery to a peace officer and aggravated resisting a peace officer, according to the legal memorandum. All charges against Rattray were later dropped.

The city became involved in the case in regards to one specific count, called a Monell count, said Henry Ford, assistant city attorney. A Monell count means someone can sue a local government for depriving them of their federal rights because a city official’s acts can be considered those of the municipality when their acts are dictated by city policy.

Following council’s approval of the settlement, Ford said the case “will be terminated against all parties.”

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