Thursday, April 05, 2007

Lack of video keeps lid on brutal case

The story John Kass is referring to in his column today was blogged here back in May of last year. Last year a woman was found face down outside of a Chicago high rise housing project building. And apparently she survived.

When I first heard this story for some reason I wondered if the victim was actually white. I couldn't tell you why I thought this, but then there was more to the story than I thought. I heard that she was mentally ill, then she had a wealthy family, and some other things. Well it's been proven even before Kass wrote his column. Apparently the Tribune has been on this story for a while.

So he bounces off the fact that there was video of this Chicago police officer who was caught beating a white female bartender. Unfortunately there was no video for this blonde haired lady. In this case though unlike many other stories we might hear about the police, they didn't really do their job to help here even if, assuming the stories seen in this column is true, she was displaying her mental illness in that jail cell and truly needed help.

I don't know there are obviously plenty of issues abound here. Let's take a look...
There is no video of what happened to Christina Eilman, no video of how she was abandoned by Chicago police to fall from the seventh-floor window of a Chicago housing project, a pretty California blond landing on a patch of South Side grass and stone.

If there were a video of her fall, this town would get sick on itself. But I'm told there isn't any.

If there were, officials would tremble, the tape bouncing across the Internet and broadcast news cycles, like that of the drunken cop who beat that petite Northwest Side bartender half to death.

Unlike the bartender story, there is no tape of Eilman. Without tape, official Chicago will stay quiet, TV news will continue to ignore her and unwitting taxpayers will pay her family off in a settlement, with City Hall praying this all goes away.

There was also no video on Wednesday in federal court, but something real happened anyway. After more than a year of stalling and lawyering, city lawyers finally agreed to test what could be Eilman's blood.

Officials decided to test fluid smeared on the walls of the Chicago Police Department lockup where she was held, where she madly wrote her name, as other women in the lockup shrieked. If it is her blood, it might prove what her parents have insisted for months.

That police had right and reason to detain the young former UCLA student who was seen at Midway Airport acting erratically, screaming, dancing in circles, fuming about the price of oil, until police kept her from boarding a plane for home.

But when police picked her up and called her parents, who told officers their daughter was mentally ill, police then had no business to release her from the 51st and Wentworth lockup and let her wander outside alone.

Abandoned on the South Side, Eilman was led by someone into a Chicago Housing Authority project, where she was allegedly sexually assaulted, then tossed or pushed from that window, where she fell to the ground as if dead.

But she survived, and now she suffers severe brain and other damage. Her family has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the city. Without video, hers is one of those quiet stories, ignored by broadcast, yet found in this newspaper thanks to Tribune reporter David Heinzmann, who has been on this from the beginning.

Eilman's attorney, Jeff Singer, told me Wednesday that City Hall could have tested the substance on the wall of the lockup and determined whether it was Eilman's blood, shortly after the incident in May 2006.

"Why wasn't it sent to the lab in May when it was first recovered after Ms. Eilman fell from a seventh-floor window?" he asked.

Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city's Law Department, said Wednesday that lawyers on both sides could not agree on the testing procedures until now.

Eilman wasn't shaken down or beaten by police. She was, however, abandoned by police and assaulted and crushed, not by police brutality, but brutalized by police indifference.
I'll let you read the rest of this story. It will get a little more disturbing as you go.

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