08/16/2006

Jury awards $3.7 million to former suburban Chicago officer

The Associated Press

CHICAGO- A federal jury awarded $3.7 million to a former suburban Chicago police officer who claimed his bosses retaliated against him after he discovered evidence of corruption in the village of Stickney.

Under Monday's ruling, Richard Hare Sr., 48, will receive $1.7 million in compensatory damages from the village and $1 million in punitive damages each from Mayor Donald Tabor and Police Chief John Zitek.

"It's a victory for me on paper," Hare said, "but I'm sad because it brought down the entire village," he said.

The 15-year police veteran filed a suit in 2002 alleging that Tabor and Zitek retaliated against him after he and five others brought evidence of corruption to the Cook County state's attorney's office. Hare claimed tactics included demoting him, taking away his car and trying to revoke his gun license.

In 2000, he testified before a grand jury that money, guns and drugs had disappeared from the police department's evidence room.

Neither Tabor nor Zitek has been criminally charged.

Zitek defended his work for the village after the ruling, saying, "the jury got it wrong."

"I believe I did my job well," Zitek said. "I wouldn't change a thing."

Tabor said he plans to appeal the ruling.

A statement from one of the village's attorneys says: "Obviously we do not agree with the jury's decision. In our opinion, the jury did not make a decision based on facts, but sympathy for Mr. Hare."

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