Chicago City Council approves $2.5M payout for 3-year-old girl traumatized by police

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CHICAGO — Chicago’s City Council on Wednesday approved a $2.5 million settlement in an excessive-force lawsuit that accused police of traumatizing a 3-year-old girl by pointing a gun at her chest and striking her handcuffed mother.

A lawyer for Aretha Simmons, the girl’s mother, says upcoming Chicago Police Department reforms don’t address how officers treat children during arrests. Attorney Al Hofeld Jr. says “it is not even on CPD’s radar.”

A 2017 Justice Department report sharply criticized Chicago police for too often using excessive force, including against children. The city has since pledged to overhaul police procedures and training.

When the council’s finance committee approved the settlement earlier, a city lawyer agreed with many of the core claims in the lawsuit, telling the committee that the girl remains traumatized and will likely require psychiatric treatment into adulthood.

According to Hofeld, some police departments in other U.S. cities have embraced far-reaching reforms on how officers should interact with children. A key element, he says, is for officers to recognize that the brains of small children and teenagers process information differently than those of adults.

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