A $2 million settlement has been reached in a case involving two Chicago police officers who blew the whistle on corruption within the department.
The plaintiffs in the case against the city claim they were retaliated against for working with federal officials during a corruption investigation of two narcotics officers who were shaking down drug dealers.
News of the settlement came Tuesday, just before the case's trial was slated to begin. As such, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will not have to testify in the case about the Chicago Police Department's "code of silence." The city maintains that Emanuel's possible testimony was not the reason behind the decision to settle with the plaintiffs.
Emanuel addressed the code of silence among police during a December speech before the city council, when he apologized for the handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting case.
The mayor spoke about the settlement during an unrelated news event Tuesday.
"It wasn't about me. It was about this case. It was not about my position on the code of silence because I couldn't have been clearer.... When I spoke to the City Council, I spoke for the first time as any mayor and gave voice to what people were saying in hushed tones. Nobody could miss what I said to the City Council," Emanuel stated, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
He added, "The settlement here was about this case not being the right case. The settlement here was about saying money for taxpayers because had we gone to trial as a city, there was a high probability that it would cost the city more. ... So, there was a settlement here that would actually save the taxpayers money."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow Push Coalition released a statement in response to the settlement news:
The shameful "Code of Silence" within the Chicago Police Department took a $2 million beating in federal court today. Congratulations go to the two brave whistleblower police officers who brought the case and exposed a corrupt crew of their peers in the face of personal threats to their livelihoods and even their lives.
While this case is a big deal, the settlement is just a pinhead on an elephant's back. There are other cases out there. It does not change the culture. This is just a narrow, sliver of light in a very dark tunnel.
In the last 10 years, Chicago has paid out $600 million in police abuse cases at a time when the city cannot pay teachers and closes 50 schools in a year.
The most severe challenge with police is their false testimonies, such as the Laquan McDonald case. One officer has been charged in the killing of the teenager but the seven who covered it up and lied on official documents are still on the job.
We talk about ending the "Code of Silence" in the street, which gives cover to the violence and mayhem that is gripping so much of the city. The same principle should and must be enforced among Chicago police officers whose mission is to serve and protect, not to hide behind their badges and break the law.
The brave acts of Chicago police officers Daniel Echeverria and Shannon Spalding not only should be applauded but also should open the door for other officers to follow suit and do so without fear of retaliation.