A Chicago police officer shot his friend in the head after a night of heavy drinking, a jury concluded Thursday.
Officer Patrick Kelly, a police officer with a troubled record in Chicago, was the only other person in his home Jan. 12, 2010 when his childhood friend Michael LaPorta was shot in the back of the head, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago police classified it as an attempted suicide based on Kelly’s statement, but La Porta and his family then sued, alleging that Kelly had been drinking, shot his friend after an argument, and then tried to cover it up.
The jury agreed, awarding the family $44.7 million Thursday. They also found that the city failed to properly investigate, which put the city of Chicago responsible for the award and for the victim’s legal fees.
LaPorta and Kelly had been college roommates, and were out drinking on the night in question. LaPorta testified that Kelly began hitting his dog, and LaPorta began to leave when he heard a clicking sound. He cannot remember anything else, he said, and following the gunshot wound, he can no longer walk or read.
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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.
Kelly declined to testify at the trial, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In the past he has been the subject of more than two dozen investigations into on-duty and off-duty conduct as well as six lawsuits. He was found to have assaulted a female sergeant and at one point repeatedly used a Taser on a pregnant woman, who later miscarried.
Initially Kelly was kept on the police force, but after the Chicago Tribune investigated his history in April, he was placed on administrative duty. At the same time, the city settled a separate police brutality claim against Kelly for $500,000.