Court: Parents of Disabled Woman Can Sue Chicago Police for Neglect

David Heinzmann, WGN Radio (Chicago), April 26, 2012

More than two years after getting the case, a federal appeals court today ruled that a mentally ill California woman can sue the Chicago Police Department for releasing her into a violent neighborhood where she was raped and nearly killed.

“They might as well have released her into the lions’ den at the Brookfield Zoo,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the opinion from the three-judge panel of the  U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the only way to sort out whether officers violated Christina Eilman’s rights is to have a trial.

The ruling comes one day after the man convicted of attacking Eilman was released from state prison on parole.


In the appellate ruling, Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote that police knew Eilman was suffering a bipolar breakdown and that responsibility for the sexual assault and injuries she suffered after police released her into a high-crime neighborhood the night of May 8, 2006 has to be decided in a trial.

The city’s appeal had asked the court to dismiss the case against 10 police officers accused of negligence, arguing the police had no responsibility to take care of Eilman, a 21-year-old former UCLA student who had been arrested after creating a disturbance at Midway Airport.


In reciting the narrative of what happened that night, Easterbrook suggested the police showed little regard for the danger they were putting Eilman in when they released her.

“She was lost, unable to appreciate her danger, and dressed in a manner to attract attention,” Easterbrook wrote. He added, “she is white and well off while the local population is predominantly black and not affluent, causing her to stand out as a person unfamiliar with the environment and thus a potential target for crime.”

Eilman, who was thrown or  fell from the 7th floor  of a public housing building  after being assaulted, requires around-the-clock care at her parents’ home in California and is dependent on state welfare because she has no health insurance.

Eilman’s parents, Rick and Kathleen Paine, released a written statement on the ruling, lamenting the amount of time the appeal has taken. The physical injuries she endured have made Eilman’s bipolar disorder worse, and she has been hospitalized for emergency psychiatric care several times in recent years, they have said previously. Because she has no insurance, she is dependent on state aid for medical care.


As a result of the fall, Eilman suffered numerous broken bones and a shattered pelvis, and a severe brain injury from which she will never fully recover.

In the last four years, Eilman’s progress has reached a plateau, and she will remain in an impaired state, with a childlike grasp of reality, for the rest of her life, doctors say.


Police Department policy requires officers dealing with mentally ill people to take them to a hospital for an evaluation. But instead of arranging transportation to a hospital, police ultimately sent Eilman miles away to the Wentworth District lockup, where multiple witnesses said jail guards dealt with her erratic and bizarre behavior by repeatedly telling her to “shut up.”

City officials have stood by the decision not to send Eilman to a hospital, saying Eilman seemed lucid and apologetic during a roughly half-hour interview with a police sergeant.


Eilman’s parents made nine telephone calls to the Wentworth District and were repeatedly told to call back later until an officer said Eilman had already been released. Police escorted Eilman to the back door of the Wentworth District, which also houses an area detective headquarters.

She then wandered along 51st Street a few blocks east to a takeout restaurant, where men began to gather and talk to the petite blonde, who was dressed in a skimpy jogging suit. Witnesses said she appeared to be disoriented and behaving erratically, unable to make eye contact or track what people were saying to her.


Reputed gang member and convicted felon Marvin Powell was convicted of kidnapping Eilman and restraining her in the apartment. Though authorities said Eilman had been sexually assaulted, Powell was not convicted of that crime.


Christina Eilman and her parents.


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  • Francis Galton

    So the truth comes out: Walking While White in a black neighborhood puts you in danger of being victimized by criminals.  DUH!!!

  • Rocky Bass

    Apology for the Derb is right around the corner I am sure.
    This rape ape is already out? Where is the Punisher when you need him?

  • Rocky Bass

    Am I as bad person for wishing this perpetrator was strapped down within the work envelope of a mid range industrial robot. Would that be some fun code to write, or what?!?!

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

     And I guess being released into a dangerous black neighborhood made her “well off,” or her bipolar condition made her “well off,” or just being a poor white made her “well off.”

    It sounds like the judge was saying that some of what happened was deserved.

    •  Now that we have this legal precedent on the book, whites who are arrested and thrown into a cell with one or more blacks should now be able to sue.

    • Rocky Bass

       Yeah the judge makes that “well off” slap and then the rest of the article is about how she is broke and on gov aid now.

      • She was well off compared to the 70IQ blacks.

        • Rocky Bass

           Hmm, 70IQ perpetrators, thrown from the 7th floor. Wonder if she is  not lucky her attackers were not smarter? Then again altruism, empathy etc…, are usually kicking in 100 range.

  • Southern__Hoosier

    If she had been poor and Black the results would have been pretty much the same. Only we would never have heard about it. She’d be just one more victim of Black on Back crime.

    • Dan

      If she would have been Black it’s much less likely she would have been thrown off the roof. Blacks seem to become exceptionally brutal when dishing out punishment to Whites.

      • Southern__Hoosier

         More like Blacks ” become exceptionally brutal when dishing out punishment to” the weak. It makes them feel like REAL men. 

    • not true.  I had a black public defender tell me that blacks choose white asvictims more often because they believe whites are less likely to be armed and ready or able to fight back

      • Southern__Hoosier

         I agree with what the public defender said. However; any girl regardless of race “who was
        dressed in a skimpy jogging suit”,  “appeared to be
        disoriented,” behaving erratically”, “unable to make eye contact” or ”
        track what people were saying to her,” would quickly be singled out a an easy victim and be prey upon by these animals.

        • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

           I don’t think it matters or mattered whether she was appearing to be disoriented, or not listening to anyone, or making eye contact or not.  Would you make eye contact if you were a defenseless woman trying to ignore filthy comments from a bunch of black men?  I don’t even think the way she was dressed made much difference.  Her size, color, hair, etc., was bait enough.  She could have been as sharp as Jodi Foster dressed as a man.

      • Dan

        I’ll disagree with that attorney. Blacks seem to have a repressed envy of Whites and that often turns to extreme rage during a criminal act. I was employed for many years supervising parolee’s and some of the most heinous crimes imaginable came from Black males attacking White women, children and senior citizens. There’s a you tube video around showing a Black male beating and torturing his White wife while his mulatto son films the event. This type of brutality is common in Black male/White female pairings and I believe it’s rooted in the Black males jealousy/envy of the White race.

  • “They might as well have released her into the lions’ den at the
    Brookfield Zoo,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the opinion from
    the three-judge panel of the  U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which
    said the only way to sort out whether officers violated Christina
    Eilman’s rights is to have a trial.

    Judge Easterbrook is going to hear about that, comparing those future rocket scientists on the South Side to dangerous predatory animals.

    • gemjunior

      Agreed.  The future oncologists, attorneys, quantum theorists, cellular microphysics professors and judges all have the right to be teed off at Easterbrook’s “ghetto” representation of these fine astrophysicists – the nerve.  Imagine.  It’s as if this judge is backward or something, right?  We must mock him.  Everyone leave your brains at home, don’t think, and join me in this mockery while pointing our fingers.  Mock Judge Easterbrook for comparing the APES swinging in the zoo to um oh it was the LIONS?  Sorry.  My mistake.  I take full responsibility.

  • B

    So what would have happened if the police would not let her go citing blacks are very dangerous?

  • Jay1

    How was she ‘well off,’ which is code for rich or ‘affluent’ as the leftists like to say, if she is dependent on the welfare of the state for her medical care?

    And then the elephant in the room – is the judge suggesting the police are negligent for putting a white person into a black neighborhood.  This screams, absolutely screams that the judge is saying that black people by nature are dangerous to white people.

    Because this is a liberal judge who is trying to rake the police over the coals, I think conservatives need to use his statement to show how raciss’ he is and get the NAACP and Sharpton out after him.

  • the trouble with this ruling is that it probably would not have been made if she were not “disabled”.  Which in this case means “mentally unstable”.  But many mentally unstable people actually have better StreetSmarts and can fight harder than a mentally sound person.  The point is, if they had released a mentally sound white woman in that neighborhood, the result could well have been the same or even worse.

  • HadEnough

    This is big, fellas. When a judge rules that releasing a white girl into a black neighborhood is in and of itself dangerous and irresponsible, this is a major departure from the usual race-is-a-social-construct pablum. As far as I can see, the only thing that made the neighborhood dangerous, in the judge’s view, was that “population [was] predominantly black and not affluent” and that the girl was “white and [allegedly] well off” — nothing else. What an admission! A few more rulings like this and, let’s pray, such precedents will be used as arguments against mandatory “low-income residences” in new high-end developments and so forth. This, plus Marine’s good showing in France earlier in the week, has put me in a great mood for the weekend.

    •  It is the first time that I’m aware that a member of the Federal judiciary didn’t rely on strict scrutiny for a racial delineation.  There is no statutory requirement that Federal judges apply the strict scrutiny test to race, it’s just a result of judicial precedent.  But as we all know, judicial precedent can be changed, or even overruled with legislation.

      For instance, Congressional legislation relating to the jurisdiction of the Federal courts could mandate that Federal judges not use strict scrutiny for racial classifications, i.e. they would have to choose between intermediate scrutiny or rational basis.

    • Strider73

       Unfortunately this case has massive judicial history running against it. All courts, from the SCOTUS on down, have unanimously ruled that the police have no duty or responsibility to protect anyone, prevent a crime, or stop a crime in progress. That’s why 911 has often been derided as “government-operated Dial-A-Prayer.” Every attempt to sue law enforcers for negligence has failed. If it succeeds here, it almost certainly will be due to the victim’s disability, and the new precedent will apply only to the disabled.

  • diversity_is_a_hate_crime

    Why was she endangered. I just don’t understand.  Blacks never racial profile against Whites.

  • I’d like to know the ethnicity of the cops.  Ignoring protocol sounds like a non-white thing so I wonder…

    • Rocky Bass

       I think these guys were just engaged in a little ghetto science experiment. There “experiment” seemed to be engineered to determine which hit the ground first, her frail body or her white privilege. And if the two would separate on impact.
      Perhaps they should apply for a research grant, as the Obama science czar would probably approve it.

      • Rocky Bass

         Oh these were no doubt BLACK cops, as NO white man would have thrown this poor girl to the dogs.

      • Unperson


        I think these guys were just engaged in a little ghetto science
        experiment. Their “experiment” seemed to be engineered to determine
        which hit the ground first, her frail body or her white privilege. And
        if the two would separate on impact.

        Would that qualify as “disparate impact”?

    • Black.  These were exempts appointed to their position by the mayor (Richard Michael Daley.) They will never be punished.

  • Richard Paul Zuckerman

    A 14th Amendment substantive due process clause “State-created danger” case requires affirmative action on the part of the State, not merely inaction..  See:  Brown v. Reyes, 815 F.Supp.2d 1018, 1022-1023 (N.D. Ill. 2011).  Was she appearing “mentally ill”?

  • Detroit_WASP

    Lion’s den?  More like a banana in the primate cage at the zoo.

    She was just one of the 36,000 white women assaulted by blacks in a given year. 

    Astounding stupidity on the part of the cops.

    Yes, putting her out in a black neighborhood was like throwing a bloody puppy in a pool of gators…..were the cops black???  This may have been done deliberately.   

  • Southern__Hoosier

     This story points out the major difference been blacks and white criminal. A white pervert would have acted alone. Blacks are are cowardly and have to operate in packs.

  • Kurt Plummer

    The Tribune wrote about Eilman’s ordeal three years ago based on the information available at the time, but as the trial approaches in March, recent court filings have shed new light on her case. Perhaps the most disturbing new detail is a police officer’s account that a police supervisor told officers to take Eilman to the hospital instead of putting her in a lockup overnight, but they didn’t because they said there was no car handy at the station.

    And here in Denver, we hear of city vehicles, owned by high ranking officers and intended -exclusively- for ‘official’ business’ being instead used to provide ordinary civilian transport to the officers and their families, including extended vacation trips.

    It would seem to me that we should not sue the cops but use criminal indictments to secure their retirement.  I despise the America The Litigant Nation.

    I would also think that, if this young woman had been admitted to care in California, it would be a relatively simple matter for an ROI to be given to an onstaff psychologist who doesn’t even have to see the girl so much as talk with her parents or another designated representative for a mentally ill person.

    Finally, whenever we have one of our ‘guests’ blow a fuze, be it substance or mental condition related, the cops always come to assist the **Paramedics**.  And this includes cases where the Police are there for a public disturbance call.

    There is no attempt by the cops to be doctors and the paramedics have a pretty wide-encompassing definition of “In you go mi’lad!” as a function of apparent responsiveness and lucidity.  Once at the hospital, anyone diagnosed as being non-competent (and a sudden switch to child like behaviors of regret and politeness would be among the cue behaviors) would immediately be ROI’d and their medical records secured from their state of origin ‘as a function of ensuring the provision of adequate care’.

    Bluntly, the girl was a loss to our society before the attack and will remain so now, indefinitely.  In this, the insurance indemnity is probably going to be small -unless- active negligence can be proved.  And if there was deliberate neglect (no car to take her but then suddenly she’s ‘miles away’, at another precinct?) then the cops should be off the force and perhaps in jail.

    Yet _only what is necessary_ to keep the young woman safe and in good care should be provided at this point.

    Because what’s done is done.  And there should be no ghetto lottery for whites or blacks.

    I find it highly unlikely that more than 4-5 million will be necessary to ensure Mz. Eilman has a reasonable standard of care for the rest of her life, even given her parents eventually give her up to state protection as a function of permanent institutionalization.

    I am sorry young lady.  You deserved better, from your genes and from us.

  • I agree with mostly everything, except running is not my first option.  I feel running puts me at a disadvantage as #1, I’d have to turn my back on someone. #2, I’m 50 yrs. old, and no matter what, I’m not going to be able to outrun a 18-30 yr old predator. Not going to try. #3 Trying to double tap the 10 ring is hard enough at the range, try doing it after running for your life possibly, adrenaline dump,  heart pounding.  No thanks.  #4 If you’re with a child, or someone unable to physically defend themselves, will they be able to keep up with you if you run? I might back up to a more defensible position, i.e; behind a car or door or wall, but I’m not going to run.

  • MrGJG

     It really is quite the catch-22. Old Bernie only got charged with possession of unregistered firearms, if memory serves. It was a different time and whites were aloud to defend themselves then. Today Goetz would have gotten strung-up.

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

     I can tell you from personal experience that all the Soviet bloc, Yugoslavia, even China were safer places than they are now or than the Western countries at the same time ever were.  I met a Russian woman after returning from the Balkans who told me, “What Russia needs now is another Stalin.  Half the people on the streets in Russia should be killed.”  What she meant was that  many Russians were going into crime since the fall of the USSR.

     In the Balkans, little girls would often approach me to ask a question.  I was in an empty parking lot once at dusk and a little girl who was skating around there came to me and asked me a question in her language.  I didn’t understand any of it at that point, and so she translated, “Do you know what time it is?”  I had many times when little girls would come up to me and talk.  I once got chased by a group of school girls when I was out jogging, once they said hello and I replied in English.  They chased me a couple kilometers just to practice English with me.  In the summer girls would sit at night on park benches and visit or walk from one place to another alone or just in twos.  I am talking about girls under 12. 

    When I returned here and saw what fear girls, even my new teenaged neighbors had of me and how watchful parents were, I wanted to cry.

    We don’t realize how much of a normal culture we’ve already lost.

  • Uncle Cracker

    Does anyone else find it disturbing that there are zero comments on the original article of this?

  • Leon Haller

    Yes, but what are you people doing about outrages like this? Do you complain here at AR, preachign to the choir, or are you writing editorial letters demanding greatly increased use of the death penalty around the country? Increasingly, I think sites like AR act as a kind of safety valve, allowing whites to let off steam instead of encouraging them to channel that anger into racially productive ways.