Chicago taxpayers will spend $3.25 million to compensate the family of a 32-year-old, bipolar woman who died two months after being mowed down by a Chicago Police officer driving a 4,000-pound police SUV.
The settlement proposed for the family of Martina Standley is the largest of four on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee.
It culminates a tragic chain of events that started on Nov. 13, 2019 in the 2000-block of East 71st Street in South Shore and left Standley unable to live independently.
That’s when when Standley, a bipolar woman suffering from what the family’s lawsuit called a “mental health crisis,” walked up to the stationary police SUV with Chicago Police Officer Brian Greene behind the wheel — only to have Greene drive over her 10 seconds after she touched the SUV’s spotlight.
Standley’s skull hit the pavement with such force that, eyewitnesses claimed, it sounded like a gunshot, according the family’s attorney Andrew M. Stroth.
In the frenzied scene that followed, Standley was “lying in the street bleeding from her head and it took several minutes to get medical treatment,” Stroth said. She spent a week in the hospital, another month in rehab attempting to recover from the traumatic brain injury. She died about two months later of “lethal arrhythmia and suspected stroke.”
What Greene “knew or didn’t know” about Standley’s mental state before she approached the officer’s SUV is irrelevant, Stroth said Monday.
“You have an officer from the Chicago Police Department driving a 4,000-pound vehicle and he ran over an unarmed Black woman without any cause or provocation. Her life was never the same again. She couldn’t work. She couldn’t play basketball. She couldn’t hang out or socialize with her family or friends and then, later, as a result of the initial incident, she passed away as a direct result of being run over by the police,” Stroth said Monday.
“There’s no justice because Martin Standley is not coming back. … The family just doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else. … How can we learn as a city to prevent these events from happening in the first place? … We need to hire the right officers. We need to train the right officers and … officers have to value the sanctity of human life.”
The $3.25 million settlement averts a trial to resolve a lawsuit filed by Standley’s family.
Citing surveillance video, the family’s lawsuit claims Standley was suffering a “mental health crisis” and had walked up to Greene’s SUV 10 seconds before he drove into her. It accuses Greene of violating departmental rules for interacting with people with obvious mental health issues and use of force.
Both issues were highlighted in the scathing federal investigation that followed the police shooting of Laquan McDonald that culminated in a federal consent decree outlining the terms of federal court oversight over the Chicago Police Department that continues to this day and will for years to come.
Body-worn camera footage of the incident was released during discovery and after a separate court battle waged by community activist William Calloway.
It lays out this version of events:
The police SUV was parked in the 2000 block of East 71st Street, then pulled forward, striking Standley, who had touched a searchlight attached to the vehicle.
The officer behind the wheel exited the vehicle and walked over to Standley’s motionless body and said: “Girl, ain’t nobody hit you like that.” He then proclaimed: “Oh, s—. F—.”
“You OK? Can you breathe? Can you talk?” the officer asked, poking an unconscious Standley in the stomach, her right leg wedged beneath the police vehicle’s tire.
A pool of blood formed under Standley’s head as she began to regain consciousness.
When another officer arrived, the one who had been driving the SUV told them: “She came banging on the window like ‘Boom boom boom.’ I thought I was in reverse. I tried to turn the wheel. It wasn’t nothing like no running from nobody or nothing like that.”
The police vehicle remained on Standley’s leg for over four minutes before the officer asked a sergeant if he should move the vehicle. She was pinned under the vehicle for at least nine minutes.
Calloway, who played a pivotal role in securing the court order that forced then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel to release the Laquan McDonald shooting video, could not be reached for comment on the settlement.
Last year, Callaway, a South Shore native, noted the relationship between neighborhood residents and the police has long been frayed, pointing to the fatal police shooting of Harith Augustus in July 2018, just steps from where Standley was struck.
“I knew that it was misconduct, and my heart went out to Martina seeing her laid out on the ground,” Calloway said of the video. “Seeing so many of these occurrences happen throughout the city throughout the years, I just felt like it’s another incident of a Black person being grossly injured by the Chicago Police Department.”
Greene remains on the force.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has completed its investigation and forwarded its disciplinary recommendations to Police Superintendent Larry Snelling.
The Finance Committee will also be asked to approve three other settlements:
• $425,000 to a man severely injured after his Toyota Camry was struck by another vehicle during a high-speed chase through the West Side in November, 2015 by a Chicago Police officer who failed to activate his lights and sirens and should have called off the chase because the risks outweighed the need to apprehend to suspect.
• $400,000 to a woman who suffered a severe foot injury when she was hit by a Segway operated by a Chicago Police officer during a June, 2017 protest at a downtown hotel. The officer had a history of “running over the feet of fellow police officers” and “other individuals,” according to the woman’s lawsuit.
• $195,000 to a man injured in April, 2018 after a Northwest Side collision with a city-owned vehicle “without brakes adequate to control its movement and stop and hold it” driven recklessly by a city employee at a “dangerous rate of speed.”