Lawyers say victim was unarmed while another attorney calls officer ‘hero’.

By: Becky Schlikerman, Chicago Sun-Times: October 28th, 2014

A Cicero police officer who stands accused in a lawsuit of shooting an unarmed young man in the back and killing him is trying to collect a disability pension because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after the shooting, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Lawyers for the young man, Cesar Munive, 22, say the town should have never hired the cop, Donald Garrity, in the first place because he lied about being forced to resign from a previous police job with the town of Berwyn after a traffic stop turned into “a late night, high-speed, multi-jurisdictional police chase which ended with Garrity lying on the ground and officers pointing weapons at him,” according to court records.

Garrity also allegedly “improperly attempted to pressure the North Riverside Police Department into dropping charges against him,” according to the filing.

Garrity could not be reached for comment, but town lawyers say the shooting in 2012 was justified, that the young man was in fact a gang member with a felony record who was pointing a gun at another Cicero cop, and that Garrity saved the life of a fellow officer with his actions.  The attorneys say Garrity’s past in Berwyn is irrelevant to what happened.

“Whatever else you want to say about Officer Garrity that day, he was a hero,” Garrity’s attorney, Craig Tobin, said.

The lawyers for Munive, which includes well-known attorney Jon Loevy, argued that Garrity and another cop doctored the crime scene after the shooting and planted a gun on their client.

Once Cicero officials found out Garrity did not tell the truth about the disciplinary action against him while he was a Berwyn cop — which Garrity admits in a deposition —  they sought to bring disciplinary charges against him, but the matter is pending, said Town of Cicero attorney Michael Del Galdo.

Because of his PTSD, Garrity has requested his retirement disability pension, according to Del Galdo and a town document.

If he doesn’t receive the pension, the town will seek to discipline Garrity, Del Galdo said.

Del Galdo didn’t know whether Garrity is still on the Cicero payroll.  Town spokesman Ray Hanania did not immediately respond to questions about Garrity’s employment status.

This new issue regarding Garrity’s history comes two years after the lawsuit was originally filed.

On July 5, 2012, Garrity and two other officers responded to a call of a fight in Cicero near 14th Street and 56th Court, court records show.

On their way, they spotted Munive and first began chasing him in their car. Then Garrity got out of the car and ran after him as other officers continued in the car, court records allege.

Then near 13th Street and 57th Avenue, Garrity shot Munive in the back, court records allege.

“At the time that Defendant Garrity shot Mr. Munive, Mr. Munive was unarmed and had his hands out and visible to Defendant Garrity,” lawyers for Munive allege in court records. “Mr. Munive was not holding anything in his hands.”

Also involved in the incident was another Cicero cop, Dominic Schullo. Garrity and Schullo “took actions designed to conceal and cover up the fact that Defendant Garrity had shot an unarmed civilian, including planting a ‘drop gun’ at the scene,” the attorneys for Munive allege.

Garrity’s attorneys dispute that.

They claim Munive was armed and pointing his gun at Schullo when Garrity ordered Munive to drop the gun. Instead, Munive raised his gun, Tobin said.

Garrity saved Schullo’s life, Tobin said.

Tobin points to Munive’s criminal history — two felony convictions, including a gun charge — according to court records.

Munive was also allegedly a member of the Latin Counts street gang, according to court records. In a deposition, Pedro Dominguez, who purports to be a Latin Count leader, appears to confirm that, saying Munive was a “foot soldier” in the Latin Counts, which are constantly at war with a rival gangs.

Munive’s attorneys say being in a gang doesn’t mean a person should be shot.

One attorney, Julie Goodwin, said, “That doesn’t justify the shooting — to just say the person is a gang member.”