One of the two men killed in a mass shooting last weekend outside a Grand Crossing neighborhood bar had served prison time for his part in a high-profile case that resulted in a mentally ill California woman falling from the seventh floor of a South Side public housing high-rise.
Marvin Powell, 36, was among seven people shot early Sunday morning after a fight inside Reynold’s Lounge in the city’s Grand Crossing neighborhood spilled outdoors.
More than a decade ago, he was locked up for kidnapping in a case that left a stain on the Chicago Police Department, highlighting how its officers needed better training in dealing with people struggling with mental health issues.
In May 2006, Christina Eilman, 21, was arrested at Midway Airport while experiencing a bipolar breakdown. She was held by Chicago police overnight and then released the next day without assistance several miles away in a high-crime neighborhood.
The former student at the University of California at Los Angeles was abducted and sexually assaulted before plummeting from a seventh-floor window in the last remaining high-rise of the Robert Taylor Homes. She survived but suffered a severe and permanent brain injury, a shattered pelvis and numerous other broken bones and injuries.
Powell was accused of holding Eilman against her will and attacking her before she fell. He initially faced criminal charges including kidnapping and sexual assault. He was convicted on charges related to Eilman’s abduction and given a 12-year prison sentence — a term that was shortened by parole and credit he received for serving more than four years in the Cook County Jail while the case made its way through the courts.
A lawsuit against the city of Chicago filed on Eilman’s behalf dragged in the courts for six years. The 2012 settlement to Eilman for $22.5 million may be the largest single-victim police lawsuit settlement in the city’s history.
Efforts to reach her family through her attorney were not immediately successful on Tuesday. But Eilman’s family has told the Tribune she will never be able to live independently, and will require costly treatment and therapy for the rest of her life.
Eilman’s bipolar condition was worsening when she came to Chicago on May 5, 2006. She was seen ranting, screaming and appeared to be out of her mind when she tried to catch a return flight from Midway to Burbank, Calif., a day or two later.
She was arrested and taken to the Chicago Lawn District police station near Midway. Officers were alarmed by her behavior, according to court records and depositions in the lawsuit.
A female sergeant called her father, Rick Paine, who told the officer Eilman had been treated for bipolar disorder the year before. A watch commander ordered that Eilman be taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, per department protocols, one of the arresting officers testified. But they never took her because they said they did not have a car, court records show.
Eilman was instead transferred to the Wentworth District station, several miles to the east, and held in its lockup overnight. Eilman’s mother, Kathy Paine, began nearly hourly calls to that station. She said she was repeatedly told to call back later, until finally an officer told her that Eilman had already been released from custody.
Police freed Eilman by escorting her to the back door of the station. She then wandered a few blocks east to a takeout restaurant, where men began to gather and talk to her.
She appeared to be disoriented and behaving erratically, according to witnesses. A short time later, she walked a few blocks to the high-rise at the Robert Taylor Homes, eventually going with a group of people to a vacant apartment on the seventh floor.
One resident said she repeatedly warned Eilman that she was not safe there. Several men asked Eilman to perform oral sex, but she refused, at one point saying she would jump out the window if touched, witnesses said.
Powell, a reputed gang member who already had felony convictions for drug and weapon offenses, eventually demanded the others leave the apartment but prevented Eilman from going with them, saying, “I’m gonna show this bitch who the real killa is,” according to witnesses.
Powell and six other people were shot outside Reynold’s Lounge at about 2 a.m. Sunday when at least one occupant from a silver four-door Ford car opened fire. Powell, who was struck in the neck and chest, and a 39-year-old man shot in the back and chest, were taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where they were both pronounced dead. Five other people who were shot survived their wounds. No arrests have been made as of Tuesday evening.