A Chicago police officer shot his friend in the head after a night of heavy drinking, a jury concluded Thursday.
The shooting happened in January 2010 when off-duty Chicago Police Department officer Patrick Kelly shot Michael LaPorta, now 37, in his skull. Kelly's attorneys had contended that LaPorta grabbed Kelly's service weapon and shot himself in a suicide attempt. He cannot remember anything else, he said, and following the gunshot wound, he can no longer walk or read. LaPorta testified that Kelly began hitting his dog, and LaPorta began to leave when he heard a clicking sound.
Jurors say Chicago police took his word for it, and never investigated the case properly.
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Kelly settled a lawsuit with the family three years ago for $300,000, but the family had also sued the city for $90 million as LaPorta is completely dependent on them for round-the-clock care.
The jury decided that the record-breaking award was to be paid by the city to send a message that the current police culture enabled Kelly to act as he did and that the "code of silence" could have ever prevented any justice for LaPorta. At the same time, the city settled a separate police brutality claim against Kelly for $500,000.
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