Jury finds Chicago police liable in 2014 killing of man, awards $742,000
A Cook County jury has awarded $742,500 to the children of a man killed by Chicago police responding to an argument at his girlfriend’s home.
The jury determined that Hector Hernandez was partially at fault in the incident and reduced an initial award of $1.35 million to $742,500.
Hernandez’ estate alleged that two officers used “inappropriate deadly force” and failed to de-escalate a mental-health crisis situation, among other claims.
On April 7, 2014, Hernandez, 21, visited the home of his girlfriend, Esperanza Davila. The pair got into an argument — described in the lawsuit as “non-violent” and “verbal”— and police were called to remove Hernandez from the residence.
Antonio M. Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin LLC, who represented the estate, said that Hernandez was violating an order of protection established by Davila and that he later began to harm himself with a kitchen knife.
Chicago police officers Patrick Kelly and Antonio Corral entered the home with guns drawn, according to the lawsuit, which said Hernandez did not verbally or otherwise threaten the officers or anyone else present in the home.
Kelly and Corral threatened to shoot Hernandez and ultimately shot him 13 times, according to the lawsuit. He died at the scene.
In 2018, Davila, as the administrator of Hernandez’ estate, sued the City of Chicago and Kelly and Corral on behalf of Hernandez and their two minor children in Cook County Circuit Court pursuant to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. The verdict was returned Thursday.
Romanucci said a major hindrance to trying the case was that there were no eyewitnesses aside from the police and no body camera footage.
He said he argued that the officers could have detained Hernandez in a non-lethal way and that he needed medical attention as a result of a mental-health crisis.
Romanucci said he and his team accepted the award reduction and that his clients were still vindicated by the verdict.
“It really was one of the most emotional moments that I’ve experienced in a courtroom, and I’ve been around a lot of death and tragedy,” he said.
Judge Edward S. Harmening presided.
Bhavani K. Raveendran, Debra L. Thomas, Michelle R. DiSilvestro and others of Romanucci & Blandin represented the plaintiff at trial.
Kenneth M. Battle and Michele J. Braun of O’Connor & Battle LLP represented the defendants. They could not be reached for comment.
The case is Davila v. City of Chicago, et al., No. 18 L 11384.