CHICAGO (CN) – A three-judge panel for the 7th Circuit has voted not to rehear a case against Chicago police who released a white, 21-year-old mentally ill woman into a high-crime, black neighborhood where she was raped and badly brain damaged.
Former UCLA student Christina Eilman was arrested on May 7, 2006, outside Midway Airport for “singing loudly, ranting about the price of oil, and screaming at other persons with her face only inches from theirs,” 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner summarized.
Eilman, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder a year earlier after an auto accident, had failed to take her prescribed psychotropic medicines and was in an acute manic phase when police arrested her at the airport. She did not tell police about her condition while being arrested.
Officers also ignored warnings from her stepfather and mother, who called the station repeatedly, about Eilman’s medical condition. She was later transferred to a holding cell 7.3 miles away from Midway, near the crime-infested Robert Taylor Homes project, and later released on bond at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Eilman had no cellphone and no idea where she was. “They may as well have released her into the lion’s den at the Brookfield Zoo,” Posner wrote in the panel’s opinion.
Wandering aimlessly, Eilman accompanied several young men into one of the project’s high-rise buildings. In apartment 702, a man named Marvin Powell forced others out of the room and raped the 21-year-old at knifepoint, according to the court.
Eilman either jumped out or was pushed from a seven-story window during the attack, causing her to shatter her pelvis, break several bones and sustain serious brain damage.
The 7th Circuit, after 18 months of silence on the case, ruledin Eilman’s favor, affirming that most of the officers involved were not eligible for qualified immunity. The judges remanded the case for trial.
On Thursday, the same three-judge panel, which consisted of Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner, and Ilana Rovner, voted two-to-one not to rehear the case. Rovner voted in favor of rehearing.
Under circuit rules, Chicago could still win full-court review if a majority of judges vote to rehear the case. At least one active-service judge must request that the vote take place, however, for this to occur.
The Eilman family is seeking $100 million in damages. They are represented by Jeffery Singer of Segal, McCambridge, Singer, and Mahoney.