$5.5M in reparations paid to 57 Burge torture victims

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CHICAGO -- The city of Chicago has paid out $5.5 million to 57 people whose claims that they were tortured by police decades ago were found to be credible.

The money was paid Monday to victims of a police unit commanded by Jon Burge. Most victims received checks totaling $100,000.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel told The Sun-Times that before righting more recent wrongs in a police department that's now the focus of a federal civil rights investigation, the city must heal wounds inflicted decades ago.

More than 100 men have accused Burge and officers under his command of shocking, suffocating and beating them into giving false confessions. Burge has never been criminally charged with torture, but he served a 4 ½-year sentence for lying about the torture in a civil case.

The notorious police commander Burge was accused of leading a “midnight crew” that tortured African American suspects. Recalled Darrell Cannon, one of the 57 receiving reparations:

"They did things to me that were despicable. From tying to hang me by my handcuffs which was cuffed behind my back. . . .They played a game called Russian Roulette on me with a shotgun. . . .And they pulled my pants and shorts down and they repeated shocked me on my testicles with an electric cattle prod."

The Sun-Times reports the months-long claims process included vetting by an arbitrator and by a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Kent School of Law.

The Chicago Torture Justice Memorial says even after this victory with the reparations, it will continue pushing for an overhaul of the Chicago Police Department.