Council to vote Tuesday on settling last suit involving Rush
CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign City Council will vote at its meeting Tuesday on settling the last lawsuit against the city and twice-fired Champaign police Officer Matt Rush.
The $250,000 settlement agreement is between the city, three police officers — Rush, Matt Crane and Ashley Petkunas-Eisenbart — and Precious Jackson, who filed a lawsuit alleging Rush used excessive force against her when she was arrested in May 2014. The federal excessive force lawsuit claims Rush's actions during her arrest caused Jackson, a woman with a history of mental health issues, to experience emotional distress because she believed she was pregnant at the time and she thought she lost an unborn child when he slammed her on the ground.
Both Crane and Petkunas-Eisenbart are named as defendants in the suit, but were not involved in the original arrest, according to city documents.
The suit alleges Rush and the other officers arrested Jackson to cover up Rush's actions and denied the woman access to medical care. The city is named a defendant in the lawsuit, which alleges the city is responsible for the incident because it didn't properly train its police officers.
If approved, this agreement will join another $320,000 worth of settlements with three people who allege Rush used excessive force. Rush has been fired twice by Police Chief Anthony Cobb, but an arbitrator ruled against the terminations both times. Last month, just a day before the case was to be turned over to an independent arbitrator, the city council voted in favor of a $50,000 separation agreement with Rush.
If approved, the settlement will release the city and the police departments of all claims and the lawsuit will be dismissed, according to city documents.
The city council will also vote on a second settlement agreement Tuesday in response to an excessive force lawsuit. Kyle O'Brien filed the complaint against the city and two police officers — Jeff Pickett and Jedidiah Mackey, alleging excessive force was used against him during his arrest on Aug. 31, 2013, in the Washington Park area. He was charged with disorderly conduct and was sentenced to a period of supervision in October 2014. His civil case against the city went to trial in November 2016 but ended in a hung jury.
If approved, the $175,000 settlement with O'Brien will also dismiss his suit against the city and Champaign police.
City Attorney Fred Stavins said the city and plaintiffs in each case agreed settling — and avoiding additional costs association with litigation — was in the best interest of both parties.