April 11, 2016 / 8:10 PM / 3 years ago

Chicago finance committee approves payouts for police custody deaths

Protesters demonstrate in response to the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois, November 25, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Nelles

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Chicago City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday approved payments totaling $6.45 million to settle cases involving two black men who died while in police custody.

The settlements come as the third-biggest U.S. city’s police department faces a federal investigation and racism accusations over the death of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired his police commissioner in 2015 after protests following the release of a video showing a Chicago police officer shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times.

Under the settlements, the family of Philip Coleman, who was tasered by police officers while handcuffed in a jail cell in 2012 and later died after being taken to a hospital, will receive $4.95 million. Coleman was dragged motionless out of his cell by the handcuffs. The tasering and dragging were caught on video cameras.

The committee also approved $1.5 million for the family of Justin Cook, who died of an asthma attack after being arrested in 2014. The suit claimed that police did not provide appropriate medical attention.

The full city council will vote on the settlements on Wednesday.

High-profile killings of black men by mainly white police officers in U.S. cities have prompted a national debate and protests about the use of excessive force by police.

Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Andrew Hay

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