A flashlight, a wrench, an L-shaped object under a towel, and a Chicago Fire Department badge in a wallet all allegedly have been mistaken for guns in recent cases in which people were shot by police officers who believed they were under threat, reports the Chicago Tribune. At least 14 times since 2010, police officers shot someone and said they thought the person had a gun, though police ultimately never found one. That opened up the city to millions of dollars in legal claims. The Tribune analyzed 235 officer-involved shootings that wounded or killed people over six years.
Shootings in which police said the victim had a gun but one was never found resulted in seven deaths. That was not the only cost. Lawsuits have been filed in all 14 shootings, and, even with three cases pending, the city already has settled with plaintiffs for more than $15 million. Although none of them had guns, six people who survived the shootings were charged with aggravated assault of a police officer. Four were either found not guilty or convicted of a lesser crime. One person shot by police, a paramedic, was not charged.