Jury deliberating on police shooting case

A Cook County Circuit Court jury will return Friday to decide whether a 15-year old boy shot in the face by police during the celebration of the 1998 Chicago Bulls' national championship should receive more than $9 million in damages.

The jury began deliberations Thursday after ten days of evidence in the trial of a lawsuit Francis Bell,now 24, filed against the city and Chicago Police Officer Daniel Bora.

Bell was shot in the face while he and six other people in a car were celebrating the Bulls championship . Two of the passengers were riding in the trunk of the car and another was on the roof of the car when the driver turned and drove the car into a group of eleven police officers on riot control duty at the corner of South Pulaski Road and West Roosevelt Road.

According to Bell's lawyer, police officers fired at the car 25 times in an attempt to stop the driver. Bell, who was sitting in the back seat, was hit by one of the bullets causing him to lose of his eye, and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and brain damage.

The lawsuit charged that the police officers involved fired at the car after it no longer posed a threat, indicating willful misconduct.

James Sotos, the attorney representing the city and Bora, countered during the trial that the whole incident occurred within a few seconds, that the officers were in the direct path of the vehicle and considered themselves in danger.

One officer was hit by the car but sustained no serious injuries.

David Cerda, Bell's lawyer, argued that the officer "fired his weapon with utter disregard for the safety of others."

Both plaintiff and defense attorneys spent much of their closing arguments Thursday emphasizing the importance of the physical evidence presented during the trial before Judge Robert Gordon.

Large posters depicting the car with bullet holes from the side and rear, the location of the shooting and the damage to Bell's face were frequently referred to during the arguments by both attorneys.

Sotos also presented a computerized animation of the incident, detailing the possible timing and locations of the car and the officers.

Cerda asked the twelve member jury to award Bell compensation for medical problems, pain and suffering, and emotional damage. Cerda spent time illustrating the devastating effects that the shooting had on Bell's life. He said Bell, who has a four-year-old son, has suicidal thoughts, has lost motivation, never graduated high school, is anti social and severely depressed.

The Chicago Police Department had no comment on the current litigation or whether disciplinary actions had been taken against the officers involved.

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