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Jury Awards $5 Million To Family Alleging Chicago Police Planted Gun After Shooting

A jury sided with the family of a 37-year-old man who was shot to death by Chicago police in 2014.


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Bill Healy/WBEZ

Updated 4:45 p.m.

A jury has returned a more than $5 million verdict in the case of a 37-year-old African-American man who was shot to death by Chicago police in 2014. Lawyers for the family of the victim, Gary Smith, argued Smith was unarmed when he was shot, but police planted a gun at the scene and destroyed evidence in an attempted cover-up.

“My brother and I are so grateful that the jurors saw through the lies and saw the truth. Nothing will ever bring my father back, but his name is cleared, and I’m grateful for that,” said Dasha Davis, Smith’s daughter.

A spokesperson for the city’s Law Department said they were disappointed with the jury’s verdict and evaluating options and would not comment on the allegations of a planted gun.

According to documents filed by Smith’s family, Smith was in the Austin neighborhood on Mother’s Day 2014, when three officers pursued him and then, without giving any commands, began shooting their guns. Smith was shot multiple times and died.

The three officers named in the suit, Arkadiusz Pachnik, Shikema Teague and Jonathan Elarde, all remain on the force according to city data. Pachnik and Teague were connected to other police misconduct payouts by the city, according to a Chicago Reporter database.

“We need the city of Chicago, when these verdicts come, to stop just shrugging their shoulders and saying that’s just the cost of doing business and now the taxpayers have to write a check,” said Torri Hamilton, one of the attorneys for Smith’s estate.

“These jurors are trying to send the city a message here. Whoever the new mayor is, she should start listening to the messages that Chicagoans are trying to send with these verdicts,” said Hamilton in a written statement.

The Chicago Police Department did immediately not return a request for comment or confirm the work status of the officers.

Shannon Heffernan covers criminal justice for WBEZ. Follow her at @shannon_h.

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