Evanston aldermen Monday night approved spending $90,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by several men whose mugshots were inadvertently posted to Snapchat last year by Police Chief Demitrous Cook.
After the incident came to light, the Cook said he had been introduced to the app at a community meeting and thought it took excellent photos, so when he was reviewing some investigative files around 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, he snapped about 80 images from the files — thinking he was saving them only to his cell phone.
But instead, Cook says, they actually were posted publicly on the Snapchat app, where one or more people who knew of his account started distributing them more widely on social media.
The chief says another member of the police department alerted him to the mistake within about an hour, but by the time they were able to remove the photos a few minutes later, the images were already being distributed online.
Cook said he had planned to consult the stored images while reviewing the files about the investigation at home later that night.
“These photos should never have been posted publicly,” Cook said. “As soon as I found out the mistake I immediately removed the photos.”
Monday night Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, said that the city has previously settled several other suits filed by persons whose images were included in the chief’s posts and that the total tab to the taxpayers for the mistake now totals more than $130,000.
And, Suffredin said, “there has been no accountability from the employee involved.” Suffredin was the only alderman who voted against approving the settlement.