The jury's verdict did more than find nine police officers and the city responsible for May Molina's death, the Chicago Tribune reported. Jurors said police response to prisoners who need medical treatment after arrest violates their constitutional rights.
Jurors reached their verdict late Monday after 20 hours of deliberations.
Molina, 55, a community activist, died 30 hours in a police station lockup 30 hours after her arrest on a drug charge.
Jon Loevy, the lawyer for Molina's family, said they rejected settlement offers because they were hoping to show systematic problems.
"This family decided they wanted to prove what happened, and they won," Loevy said. "It's an extraordinary case. ... It means the city will have to change."
Lawyers for the city argued Molina swallowed packets of heroin before her arrest, causing her own death. The family said she suffered from asthma and diabetes and police after her arrest ignored warnings she needed medication.