Tarance Etheredge III is awaiting payment from the City of Chicago to settle his police brutality lawsuit after he was shot in the back by an officer in 2012 [Source: Chicago Tribune]. Etheredge, who was only 21 years old at the time, was left paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the officer deploying his weapon. He filed a federal lawsuit after the incident and is now in line to receive a $10 million settlement after the City Finance Committee reached a 20-7 vote to settle his case [Source: CBS Chicago].
What prompted the officer to shoot Etheredge?
Etheredge had been walking to work one day in December 2012 when he was approached by an unmarked car. One of the plainclothes passengers inside the vehicle told the 21-year-old to “come here.” However, since Etheredge did not know they were police officers and they failed to identify themselves as law enforcement, “he ran because he was afraid.” One of the officers, began chasing Etheredge on foot while the other followed in the unmarked vehicle.
Etheredge eventually stopped running after he was approached by a squad car. That is when he realized the two men who were chasing him were police officers, according to his lawsuit. Officer Mark Heinzel, the officer chasing Etheredge on foot, eventually caught up with him. The officer said that when he got closer to Etheredge, he “was holding a gun and pointing it at a gangway. Fearing that his partner might be coming through that gangway, Heinzel said he ordered Etheredge to drop the weapon, and shot him when he turned his head.”
Now, although Etheredge did admit that he had been carrying a gun for protection at the time, “he said he was not holding it when he was shot.” His lawsuit claimed, “There was no legal justification [for the officer to] point, threaten, or fire a firearm at or utilize deadly force.” CBS Chicago also highlighted that another officer who participated in the chase claimed they did not see Etheredge carrying a weapon at the time of the shooting.
Etheredge’s lawsuit alleged the officers “conspired with one another to justify the unjustifiable, reckless, and willful and wanton use of force.”
Now, because there are no videos of the account, says CBS Chicago, First Assistant Corporation Counsel Renai Rodneybelieves “the city would be at risk of a verdict much larger than $10 million if the case were to go to trial” which is why Etheredge is expected to receive the settlement. Although the payout can’t undo the damage that has already been done, this case proves justice can be obtained when an officer of the law engages in an act of misconduct.