For Immediate Release: March 25, 2016
Contact: Craig M. Sandberg, 312.263.7249, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rockford, IL – Plaintiffs were awarded $360,000.00 in damages due to the reckless (willful and wanton) infliction of emotional distress by members of the Rockford police department. The verdict was rendered Friday morning, March 25, after eleven days of trial evidence. The jury's unanimous verdict was reached after nearly fourteen hours of deliberation over the course of three days. The plaintiffs were represented by Craig M. Sandberg (Muslin & Sandberg in Chicago, IL) and Keenan J. Saulter (Saulter Tarver P.C. in Chicago, IL).
On August 24, 2009, at approximately 12:33 p.m., two uniformed Rockford Police Department officers shot and killed an unarmed 23-year old male (Mark Anthony Barmore) inside the House of Grace Day Care run by Kingdom Authority International Ministries church in Rockford (a predominantly African American church). The victim sustained of four (4) gunshot wounds: a close-range gunshot wound to the neck; two gunshot wounds to the back; and a gunshot wound of the left buttock. Barmore was pronounced dead at the scene. Barmore was shot and killed in the presence of ten children (ages 5-12), as well a few adult day care workers. This shooting incident inflamed passions and highlighted the mistrust that existed, and continues to exist, between the police and segments of the community.
Immediately following the officer-involved shooting, the Rockford Police Department, instead of engaging the assistance of an outside agency, started to investigate its own officers' conduct. After completing its investigation, the Department concluded that its officers’ actions were appropriate and justified.
Less than a month after the shooting, the Rockford City Council voted 11-1 to retain Independent Assessment & Monitoring (IAM), based in Oakland, Calif., to conduct an assessment of the incident. In short, the IAM report (Review of Officer-Involved Shooting of Mark Anthony Barmore) essentially questioned the actions of the officers in the two minutes leading up to the fatal shooting, despite the fact the shooting itself was deemed justified under the circumstances of the culminating moment. The report notes: “This determination that the officers’ actions were not criminal is significant, but it should be the beginning rather than the end of the inquiry of whether the officers’ actions were justified or appropriate. Where an officer’s use of deadly force is not criminal, it may nonetheless be unjustified under a non-criminal standard, pursuant to Supreme Court precedent requiring that any police use of force be objectively reasonable.”
Defendant denied all liability. The jury's verdict is 700% greater than the City's final settlement offer.
This case was tried in Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Winnebago County in Rockford, Illinois before the Honorable John H. Young.
NOTE: The city of Rockford paid $1,115,500 to settle the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estate of Mark Anthony Barmore in December 2014. At that time, Rockford had already spent nearly $600,000 defending these lawsuits.