Metra settles for $225,000 in beating case
A Chicago man beaten by Metra police officers in 2015 and wrongly jailed for 21 months has received a settlement of $225,000 from the railroad, officials said Tuesday.
Attorneys for D'Nardo Mack said he was "viciously and unjustifiably attacked" Jan. 15, 2015, at Millennium Station by former officer David Robertson, 50, of Matteson, who has been charged with aggravated battery in the case.
Mack was charged with aggravated battery of an officer, aggravated assault, unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest until a surveillance video exonerated him in 2016.
"The fact that Mr. Mack remained in prison for 21 months for crimes he did not commit is simply unacceptable," his attorney Martin D. Gould said.
"We believe this is a fair settlement for both parties," Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.
Surveillance video shows Robertson punching and pepper-spraying Mack unprovoked, authorities said. He was later joined by other officers who surrounded Mack, whacking him with batons, throwing him to the ground and punching him.
Although the Cook County state's attorney's office had requested copies of surveillance video, Metra's original tape was overridden after 30 days, officials said. And a subpoena for the video within that time frame was mishandled by former records employees who are no longer with the agency.
Mack gained his freedom because Robertson gave prosecutors a video of the original surveillance recording that he filmed with his phone while watching it with other Metra police officers. Some of them joked during the viewing.
"Once we were finally able to get a hold of the Metra video evidence, it showed not only that officer Robertson was the aggressor, but also that numerous Metra officers had watched the video evidence on Metra's premises and were caught laughing at and mocking Mr. Mack's plight," Gould said.
"While Metra did eventually make the right decision and terminate the officers involved, Metra must now also take the critical next steps to ensure that it has the policies, procedures and training in place to prevent this type of unnecessary abuse from happening in the future."
Robertson was charged in October and two other officers involved in the case were dismissed from Metra, officials said, adding the agency has instituted reforms in its police department.
"As an agency that now prides itself on having a well-run and professional police force, and after our own investigation into the matter, we are disturbed and deeply troubled by this conduct," Metra Executive Director Don Orseno said in October. "This conduct is unacceptable to us and will not be tolerated. It is not representative of the culture and standards of the Metra Police Department."
Robertson's attorney has said his client is innocent and will be exonerated.