By Jean Lotus
Forest Park's village council approved a $175,000 settlement agreement March 10 with former Chicago Police Officer Richard Schmidt, who won an excessive force lawsuit against the village and three Forest Park officers in 2012.
However, added to that amount were lawyer fees of almost $225,000 to the Miller Law Group of Hinsdale, which represented Schmidt. That brought the total village payout to some $400,000.
Schmidt's lawsuit alleged three Forest Park police officers struck him while in custody in the Forest Park police station and zapped him with a stun-gun and Taser eight times in 52 seconds.
An off-duty Chicago cop, Schmidt was taken into custody after being disorderly in Slainte Irish Pub, 7505 Madison St., after the Forest Park St. Patrick's Day parade in March, 2008. Forest Park police denied the use of force was excessive because Schmidt was combative and striking officers in the station. Police Sgt. Pete Morrissette said in 2012 the drive stuns were ineffective in subduing Schmidt.
The case led to Forest Park's installing video cameras in prisoner-processing areas of the lock-up.
Forest Park Commissioner Mark Hosty said of the settlement, "It turns my stomach to vote yes on a topic such as this."
"I'm going to vote yes to support our police officers," he added.
West Madison St. makeover to include new asphalt
The beautification of west Madison Street on both the Forest Park and River Forest sides will be postponed a year, said Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone. But the project will include new asphalt paving, Calderone said, thanks to an extra grant to repave the roadway.
Calderone said he applied to the North Central Council of Mayors for money to pave the roads. Village engineers said it would "make more sense" to resurface the roadway to meet-up and match with the new curb and gutter lines, Calderone said in an email.
The Federal Highway Administration awarded Forest Park $800,000 through the Surface Transportation Program, Calderone said.
Calderone said he also asked for re-paving money for Madison east of Desplaines Avenue, which is starting to "show its age," he said. The grant for asphalt to the east will likely not be approved until 2015, he said. The two projects do not have to take place at the same time, he added.