Code of Silence. From [CBS] and [MORE] Two weeks after a federal jury ruled a white off-duty Chicago police officer shot his friend in 2010, the family of a Latino man who was killed by the same white cop has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, the officer, and his partner.
Hector Hernandez, 26, was shot 13 times by police in 2014. One of the officers who shot Hernandez was Patrick Kelly, who fired 11 times.
Attorney Tony Romanucci said Kelly has a long list of complaints at the Police Department, and has been arrested twice and sued several times during his career.
“This case of Hector Hernandez presents further evidence of the chronic pattern of violent behavior and misconduct, whether on or off duty, of a certain segment of the Chicago Police Department,” he said.
On the night Hernandez was killed, officers had been called to break up a domestic argument between him and his girlfriend, Esperanza Davila.
Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) records state, after police arrived, Hernandez was threatening to kill himself. Davila said she had just gotten back together with Hernandez and she never got around to lifting an old order of protection against him from 2013.
According to the lawsuit, other officers armed with Tasers were on the scene, trying to deescalate the situation, when Kelly and Officer Antonio Corral arrived, and threatened to shoot Hernandez. The lawsuit states Hernandez never threatened the officers or anyone else in the home, and was not a threat to anyone’s life or safety, and that Kelly and Corral shot him without provocation.
Davila has said she believes Hernandez was worried police might take him to jail after they began fighting, and that is why he was attempting to commit suicide with a knife from her kitchen.
Once inside the house, Kelly and Corral fired a total of 21 shots, and 13 hit Hernandez. IPRA records stated officers fired at Hernandez after he lunged at them with the knife. Kelly reported firing 11 times until his gun jammed.
According to the lawsuit, 8 of the 13 shots that struck Hernandez entered his back or buttocks.
Kelly joined the police force in 2004, and records CBS 2 obtained show complaints against him began piling up the next year.
According to the lawsuit filed by Hernandez’s family, 27 complaints have been filed against him for excessive force, false arrest, intimidation, and other misconduct from 2005 through 2013. At least 21 of those complaints were filed before Kelly shot Hernandez.
The complaints include a 2005 allegation he attacked his girlfriend, leaving her with bruises and in need of stitches.
According to court records, he was not charged and not disciplined by the police department, either.
The Hernandez family’s lawsuit claims Kelly should have been fired before the shooting, and alleges a code of silence and a history of covering up police misconduct led to Hernandez’s death.
Kelly also has been sued at least five times.
Last month, a federal jury awarded $44.7 million to Michael D. LaPorta, who was shot in the head with a bullet from Kelly’s service weapon while the two were at Kelly’s home after a night of drinking on Jan. 12, 2010. Kelly called 911, reporting LaPorta committed suicide, but LaPorta survived with a traumatic brain injury, and after regaining his ability to speak he started telling people Kelly shot him.
In court, LaPorta told jurors Kelly started hitting his own dog, so he was starting to leave and there was a click.
“He shot me. I know he shot me,” LaPorta said.
Kelly still wasn’t talking. On the stand at the trial, he repeatedly invoked his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. He wouldn’t answer whether he removed evidence; urinated on his hands before they were tested for gunshot residue; or if he pulled the trigger.
After he left court, a stand-in read from Kelly’s old deposition. In that statement, he said LaPorta shot himself and he saw LaPorta put the gun to his head. Kelly said he heard a click, a misfire, then tried to stop him.
The jury didn’t buy Kelly’s story, and determined Kelly shot LaPorta, and the city failed to properly investigate and discipline Kelly.
Kelly also has been sued for wrongfully using a Taser on Elaina Turner in 2013. She was pregnant and had a miscarriage days later. The city agreed to settle that case for $500,000 earlier this year.