Chicago Attorneys Parts & Spencer Win $4,6 Mio. for Family of Man Shot by Police

On Friday, November 2, 2012, a Federal Court Jury found in favor of the Estate of William Hope, Jr., and against the City of Chicago and officers Armando Ugarte and Michael St.Clair in a case in the Northern District of Illinois arising from an incident in which Mr. Hope was shot and killed in July 2010.  The Estate was represented by Chicago attorneys Mark Parts and Faith Spencer of Parts & Spencer, Ltd.

William Hope, Jr., was sitting alone in his car backed into a space in the parking lot of a Popeyes restaurant at 75th and Perry at lunchtime on July 8, 2010.  Police officers Armando Ugarte and Michael St.Clair had no information on him or his car or anything else happening in the area that day when they pulled in with their Chevy Tahoe and parked perpendicular to and directly in front of him.  

After they both approached the driver's side of his car, he told them he hadn't done anything and began to move his car, as he would in pulling out of a parallel parking space, to go out around the back of the Tahoe.  Officer Ugarte reached into the car to take control of it and shortly afterward Officer St.Clair fired four shots at Mr. Hope, who died on the scene.

Shooting Officer St.Clair testified that 3 mph was his estimate as to Mr. Hope's speed.  It was less than a minute from the time the police officers pulled into the parking lot until Mr. Hope was shot and dying.  At the time of the shooting, Mr. Hope lived with his girlfriend of 9 years, Jennifer, their son Will and Jennifer's daughter Jada.

The officers contended that Ugarte was struck by the vehicle and subsequently became stuck in it and that Mr. Hope was using his vehicle as a weapon. Plaintiff's position was that the officers' story was inconsistent with testimony of independent witnesses, the physical evidence and certain aspects of the officers' own testimony.

The jury found in favor of Mr. Hope's Estate on all counts:  a Federal  claim of Improper Seizure against both Officer Ugarte and Officer St.Clair, a Federal claim of Excessive Force against Officer St.Clair, an Illinois law claim of Unlawful Detention against the City of Chicago, and an Illinois law claim of Battery against the City of Chicago.  The jury awarded $5,000 for loss of liberty, $25,000 for physical pain and suffering, $40,000 for emotional pain and suffering, $2 million for loss of life, $3700 for burial expenses and $2.5 million for loss of society for a total of $4,573,700 in compensatory damages.  The jury also awarded $10,000 against each officer as punitive damages. The defendants made no offer to settle prior to trial.