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Cook County, Illinois

The plaintiff brought suit alleging wrongful death when the decedent Robert Russ, a football star at Northwestern, was shot and killed by Chicago Police following a car pursuit. The defendant contended that the plaintiff was shot when he grabbed the defendant officer’s gun and a struggle ensued.

The evidence revealed that the police had attempted to pull the decedent over after they alleged he improperly changed lanes on the Dan Ryan Expressway. However, Russ refused to stop. A three- mile chase ensued on the expressway, but the decedent at no point exceeded the speed limit. The defendant officer pulled up next to the decedent’s vehicle on a one-way ramp and crashed into him forcing his vehicle to skid out to a stop. The police cruiser rammed the driver’s side of Russ’ vehicle and another police officer approached the passenger side.

The other officer was off- duty and in plain clothes. He opened the passenger vehicle, but testified that he could not see into the vehicle.

The defendant took a tire iron and smashed the rear window of Russ’ vehicle. The plaintiff contended that the defendant then put his gun in Russ’ face and when Russ put up his hand, the defendant shot him.

The bullet grazed Russ’ left hand, went through his lungs and heart and killed him almost instantly.

Mr. Russ was a senior at Northwestern University and the starting defensive tackle for their football team. He was killed two weeks before his graduation in ________. At the time of his death, Russ’ girlfriend was six months pregnant with their child. The plaintiff brought suit contending that the police officer failed to observe departmental rules and acted improperly, causing the decedent’s death.

The defendant officer contended that he had the gun close to Russ.

The officer contended that when he turned his head for a moment, Russ grabbed the gun, a struggle ensued and the gun discharged. Eyewitnesses claimed that Russ did not grab the gun.

The trial in this matter lasted one month and the jury deliberated for three days before returning a verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $9.6 million.

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