Joliet reaches $250K settlement with woman who said she was tackled by cop

Woman accused officer of wrongfully tackling her

Konika Morrow stands along a curb on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in Joliet, Ill., where she says a Joliet police officer "rushed" her. A video of the incident on Facebook Live shows an officer appearing to tackle Morrow to the ground during a fray. Police said in a Facebook post a crowd became "unruly" after officers tried to subdue a man riding a dirt bike.

A $250,000 settlement was reached in a federal lawsuit case where a woman said she was wrongfully tackled to the ground by a Joliet police officer and arrested in 2019.

Konika Morrow, 45, the plaintiff to the case, signed a Nov. 2 settlement agreement that said she will receive $250,000 in exchange for dropping her claims against the City of Joliet and Police Officer Adam Stapleton, according to records obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

The settlement agreement said Morrow acknowledges the deal was “made to avoid the uncertainty of the outcome of litigation and the expense in time and money of further litigation and for the purpose of judicial economy.”

Morrow also promised not to make “disparaging or degrading remarks” about either Stapleton or the city to the media or on the internet.

Morrow first filed her lawsuit on June 30, 2020, against Stapleton, Joliet Police Officer Alan Vertin and retired Joliet police Sgt. Javier Esqueda. Last summer, Vertin and Esqueda were dismissed from the case.

In a series of screen shots from a cellphone video, Joliet police officers can be seen removing Joshwa Cooley from a dirt bike and restraining Konika Morrow on Tuesday, July 9, outside a South Ottawa Street church in Joliet, Ill.

Between the three defendants, Esqueda was the only one who was disciplined by the department.

Stapleton was informed by internal affairs in 2019 that the allegation he “unnecessary force” in the incident was “not sustained.” Vertin faced no disciplinary action, said Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English.

Esqueda was suspended for one work day without pay after an internal affairs review found he “failed to effectively supervise the incident and officers on scene.” English said Esqueda retired “prior to discipline being imposed.”

Kendall County prosecutors have alleged that incident played a role in Esqueda’s decision to leak a 2020 squad video to CBS2 News Chicago. They charged Esqueda with official misconduct over the leaked video. That case is still pending in Kendall County.

The video showed Joliet police Sgt. Doug May slapped Eric Lurry, 37. May said to Lurry, “Wake up [expletive]!” before putting one hand on Lurry’s throat and using the other to pinch Lurry’s nose shut. Officers searched Lurry’s mouth for bags of drugs and he later died from what authorities deemed an accidental drug overdose.

Morrow’s lawsuit accused Stapleton of tackling her to the ground, pushing her over a curb and injuring her knee while she was at a July 9, 2019, prayer vigil at Sacred Heart Church in Joliet. Officers were in the area near the location of the vigil after they pursued a dirt bike driven by Joshwa Cooley, Morrow’s nephew.

Morrow and her sisters offered to take the dirt bike home and asked officers to wait for Cooley to get off of it, according to her lawsuit. They also complied with officers’ commands to back away from Cooley and the bike until Stapleton arrived and took Morrow to the ground without warning, Morrow’s lawsuit said.

Morrow was then arrested and charged with the misdemeanor offense of obstructing Vertin.

During a Feb. 14 bench trial, Judge Jessica Colón-Sayre acquitted Morrow of the charge after Morrow’s attorney, Neil Patel, argued that his client did not impede the performance of the officers at the scene.

Colón-Sayre also questioned why officers were testifying about a “Jeremy Cooley,” who was not the “Joshua Cooley” named in the 2019 criminal complaint against Morrow.

During the trial, no squad videos were shown from either Stapleton’s and Vertin’s vehicles, which were at the scene of the incident. Instead, the only video shown came from Esqueda’s vehicle, which had more distance from the scene.