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Families of two men shot by police settle with city

CHICAGO -- The city of Chicago has reached a $625,000 out-of-court settlement with the families of two men shot to death by police during a Puerto Rican Day disturbance seven years ago.

The city agreed Friday to pay $312,500 to of the families of Julio Osorio, 26, and Rafael Cruz, 25. They were shot by Lt. Thomas M. Walton in Humboldt Park during a disturbance at a Puerto Rican Day festival June 4, 1977.

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The settlement was approved by U.S. District Judge John A. Nordberg just as the case was to go to trial.

'We took the money because we felt that that was a statement of misconduct by the police department,' said G. Flint Taylor, one of the lawyers representing the families.

Taylor said the Hispanic community will push to have Walton, a former U.S. Marine Corps sharpshooter, removed from the police force.

He said the police department's Office of Professional Standards has kept the case open pending the outcome of the trial.

After the shootings, Walton was placed in charge of the department's training division, then assigned to the Austin District. Recently, he returned to the training division.

'We don't want him on the force any more to kill people. He should not be working with the public,' said Mercedes Cruz, sister of one victim.

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The families filed a $48 million civil rights suit against the city in 1977. The case ended in a mistrial in 1981 because the judge was hospitalized with heart problems.

During the trial, Walton testified he shot Osorio in self-defense after the man lunged at him with a gun. He said he fired four shots at Osorio, striking him in the back. Another shot killed Cruz, who was nearby.

Police officials originally claimed the victims had shot each other, until ballistics tests showed that both were killed by Walton's gun.

Following the shootings, rioting broke out in the neighborhood and lasted for two days.

After the ruling, Mayor Harold Washington, Corporation Counsel James Montgomery and Chicago Police Superintendent Fred Rice issued a joint statement that 'the city and the people of Chicago will not tolerate excessive police conduct which violates the rights of citizens.'

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