Jury Verdict Victory for Civil Rights & Police Accountability Clinic
Five Civil Rights & Police Accountability Clinic students, Pedro Gerson, Matt Streit, Catherine Sullivan, Joshua Burday, and Ian Todd, won a nearly $900,000 jury verdict in a week-long federal civil rights trial, involving a group of five Chicago Police Special Operations Officers who engaged in a years-long conspiracy to target vulnerable people for false arrests, to enable them to break into the homes of their family members and rob them. Pursuant to their conspiracy, they falsely arrested our client, Noel Padilla, who had just become a father for the first time. They then dragged him around in handcuffs over the course of the next four hours, as they invaded the homes of his family members, looking for money to steal. When they came up empty handed, they planted drugs on Mr. Padilla; they robbed him of his money that he had saved for a security deposit for apartment for his young family; and they wrote false reports accusing him of a crime that they knew that he did not commit—a crime that could result in him spending the next 40 years in prison.
The false charges were ultimately dismissed 278 days later, when the officers’ criminal conspiracy came to light. However, Mr. Padilla endured those 278 days in the Cook County Jail, believing that he may never hold his son again.
The Clinic students proved that the five officers committed each of th