City of Chicago awarded $2 million to Timothy Finwall for wrongful conviction

‘They ruined my whole life’ Chicago police allegedly framed suspect in case.

By: Abdon M. Pallasch, Chicago Sun-Times: October 24th, 2007

A jury gave a Southwest Side man $2 million Tuesday for being wrongfully arrested by Chicago Police and charged with attempted kidnapping.

Timothy Finwall, 40, a Marquette Park iron worker, was on duty as a bartender at “Gloria’s Alibi” in 2001 when a man approached an 8-year-old girl on a doorstep and offered to take her on a “field trip.”

The girl’s mother overheard the conversation, came out and told the man to leave. She gave police a description of the man and posters went up around the neighborhood.

Police got a tip from someone who went to school with Finwall 13 years earlier, who said the sketch on the posters looked like him. Police arrested Finwall and put him in a lineup with four police officers.

The girl testified that she told police it could have been “the short one” or “the tall one” in the lineup, Finwall’s attorney, Mike Kanovitz of Loevy and Loevy, said.

The police incorrectly reported in documents that the girl identified Finwall, Kanovitz said.

Finwall was acquitted of attempted child abduction in his criminal trial.

“I’d like to let them know they ruined my whole life,” Finwall – with his wife standing at his side and holding his arm – said of the detectives, Martin Garcia and Dion Boyd. “They should have been fired a long time ago.”

But City Law Department spokeswoman Jenny Hoyle said the girl’s mother still maintains Finwall was the man who spoke to her daughter.

“We’re very disappointed and we are reviewing our options, including appeal,” Hoyle said.

Kanovitz said police may have targeted Finwall because he was once convicted of taking a gun away from a “drunken” Chicago Police officer who was threatening a bar patron. Finwall served no jail time on that conviction.

Tuesday’s verdict comes a week after another jury found other Chicago Police officers guilty of assaulting a teen with a screwdriver, resulting in a $4 million settlement against the Chicago Police Department. The teen was represented by the same firm.

Finwall said he felt vindicated by Tuesday’s verdict and encouraged the police to go out and find the man who really did proposition the girl.

Asked what he is going to do now, Finwall said, “I’m going to go home, hug my baby and live my life.”

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