Chicago cop who fatally shot 2 in 2015 under investigation for bar fight

Dan Hinkel, Chicago Tribune, January 5, 2018

Chicago police are investigating allegations that the officer who fatally shot two people in an on-duty incident in 2015 got into an early morning bar fight last month, a department spokesman confirmed Friday.

Officer Robert Rialmo is alleged to have hit two men in the face with a closed fist about 2:45 a.m. on Dec. 17 at Moretti’s Ristorante & Pizzeria, a sprawling restaurant and bar in the Edison Park neighborhood on the far Northwest Side, according to department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi as well as a police report. One victim suffered bruises, the report said.

By the time police arrived, Rialmo was gone, Guglielmi said.

Days after the alleged incident, department officials stripped Rialmo of his police powers, Guglielmi said. He had already been on paid desk duty because of the investigation into the fatal shooting of Quintonio LeGrier, 19, who was clutching a baseball bat, and Bettie Jones, 55, an innocent bystander, the day after Christmas in 2015.

Rialmo had not been arrested or charged in the alleged bar fight as of Friday evening.

Meanwhile, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates police misconduct allegations, is looking into whether Rialmo might have violated department policy, according to agency records.

The disciplinary agency recently presented evidence in the case to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office before referring the matter to the Police Department, which began an investigation less than a week ago, Guglielmi said.

Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office, declined to comment.

Rialmo’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, called the off-duty incident a “shoving match,” saying two men tried to take Rialmo’s coat at closing time.

A “fair investigation” should result in no charges, Brodsky said in a written statement.

“Nobody requested medical attention, there were no injuries, the men refused to cooperate with the police, and no charges were brought,” Brodsky wrote. “Without complaining witnesses, there is no reason for any criminal investigation.”

Rialmo, a five-year department veteran, could not be reached for comment.

The alleged bar fight came five days before disciplinary authorities ruled that Rialmo unjustifiably shot LeGrier and Jones while responding to a domestic disturbance on the West Side. After LeGrier came at officers with an aluminum baseball bat in his hand, Rialmo shot the teen and accidentally hit Jones, a neighbor standing nearby.

But COPA cast doubt on Rialmo’s account of those events and determined that the evidence indicated that LeGrier did not swing the bat at the officer, as Rialmo said. Investigators also concluded that LeGrier likely was further away from from Rialmo when he opened fire than the officer has said.

COPA has recommended that Rialmo be fired for the shooting, and Superintendent Eddie Johnson has about three months to decide what, if any, discipline he might seek from the Chicago Police Board.

Brodsky has said the facts support his client’s statements that he fired in fear for his life because LeGrier could have hit him with the bat, whether or not he swung it. The COPA ruling was politically motivated, Brodsky contends.

Rialmo’s union, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, has also decried the ruling and instructed its attorneys to explore a legal challenge, according to a statement.

Union President Kevin Graham told the Tribune on Friday he does not believe COPA is capable of fairly investigating officers and that it is using the alleged bar fight to support its recommended firing of Rialmo for the fatal shooting.

“This is a move to put pressure on the Police Department and specifically Superintendent Eddie Johnson to have an unfavorable ruling on Officer Rialmo” for the shooting, Graham said.

COPA officials could not be reached for comment.

The alleged bar fight adds another unexpected twist to the aftermath of a shooting that has been marked by unusual litigation and embarrassing blunders by the city.

The shooting attracted wide notice in part because it was the first fatal police shooting after the court-ordered release of video of a white officer, Jason Van Dyke, shooting African-American teen Laquan McDonald 16 times. The video’s release in November 2015 sparked calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation, and black Chicagoans aired volumes of complaints about their treatment by police. Efforts to overhaul the department continue more than two years later.

About 4:30 a.m. on the day after Christmas 2015, Rialmo and his partner responded to 911 calls about a domestic disturbance at the apartment in the 4700 block of West Erie Street, where LeGrier was staying with his father. LeGrier had behaved strangely as a student at Northern Illinois University and had altercations with other students and run-ins with police, records show. LeGrier’s apparent mental health problems have been a key issue in the litigation that followed his death.

Jones, who lived downstairs, answered the door and pointed police to the second floor. LeGrier then came down the stairs with a bat, according to an analysis released in February by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, which declined to bring criminal charges against Rialmo. The officers started to move backward onto the front landing as LeGrier came at them with the bat, prosecutors wrote. As Rialmo backed down the stairs, he fired eight times, hitting LeGrier six times, according to prosecutors. Jones, who stood behind the teen during the incident, was shot once in the chest, prosecutors wrote.

Brodsky has said his client was justified in firing in self-defense, but COPA investigators voiced doubts about Rialmo’s sometimes conflicting accounts. COPA found that no one corroborated the officer’s contention that LeGrier swung the bat, while investigators concluded that the evidence suggested that Rialmo was several feet further from the teen when he opened fire than the officer had said he was.

Numerous lawsuits are pending. The survivors of both LeGrier and Jones sued Rialmo and the city. Rialmo took the unusual step of suing the city, alleging in part that he was inadequately trained. Rialmo is also suing LeGrier’s estate, blaming him for the shooting and contending it emotionally traumatized the officer.

Then, three weeks ago, the city’s lawyers filed a lawsuit that sought to shift blame and some financial liability for Jones’ death from the city onto LeGrier’s estate. The Tribune reported on the lawsuit a few hours after it was filed. The city’s lawyers quickly dropped the suit, and Emanuel apologized, saying he did not know of the litigation beforehand but found it “callous.”

Dan Hinkel, Chicago Tribune, January 5, 2018, “Chicago cop who fatally shot 2 in 2015 under investigation for bar fight”, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-chicago-cop-robert-rialmo-bar-fight-20180104-story.html

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In Chicago, more than $20 million in police misconduct settlements paid out in eight weeks

The city of Chicago has paid out $20.3 million in settlements for police misconduct cases in the first eight weeks of 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The city of Chicago paid more than $20 million in settlements for police-involved lawsuits in the first two months of the year, WBBM-TV reported Tuesday, and there could be millions of dollars more paid out in the near future.

What’s the story?

On Monday, the city paid $4.6 million to settle numerous police misconduct cases. On Feb. 9, the city paid $9.3 million in a reversed conviction case.

In 2016, Chicago paid $2.2 million for related cases in the first eight weeks of the year. In 2017, that number was $6.1 million; still nowhere near the $20.3 million that came out of the city’s budget in the first eight weeks of 2018.

Of that $20.3 million, about half of that money is for excessive force, false arrest and illegal search and seizure cases.

Also, there are currently 460 civil rights cases against the city that are under review, according to the Chicago Department of Law.

Need for reform?

Jon Loevy is a Chicago civil rights attorney who is involved in many of these cases. He said the city is essentially wasting money by settling all these cases and not addressing the issues that cause them.

“From an economic standpoint, dollars and cents, it would be cheaper to solve the problem than to keep paying out on lawsuits,” Loevy told WBBM. “We’ve heard rhetoric lately that it is time to make a change and time will tell if that’s going to happen.

“Our goal is that they put us out of business,” Loevy said.

An old problem

Last year, the Justice Department published a 164-page report following an investigation into misuse of force by Chicago officers.

From a Chicago Tribune editorial:

Here is what the Justice Department found in Chicago: The Police Department inadequately trains officers to fight crime in a violent city and then fails to properly monitor their use of force or punish wrongdoing. The result is ‘a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use.’ Boiled down to the essence, Chicago cops abuse citizens because nobody tells them they can’t.

Aaron Colen, , the blaze.com,  “In Chicago, more than $20 million in police misconduct settlements paid out in eight weeks”, https://www.theblaze.com/news/2018/04/17/in-chicago-more-than-20-million-in-police-misconduct-settlements-paid-out-in-eight-weeks

EDITORIAL: High cost of police misconduct is financially breaking our city

 

Stanley Wrice leaves the Cook County Juvenile Court on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times

Stanley Wrice leaves the Cook County Juvenile Court on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times

The hundreds of millions of dollars that Chicago continues to pay out to settle police misconduct claims is stunning in a city already burdened by a mountain of pension debt.

The question is what the next mayor — and the union that represents police officers — intend to do about it.

From May 2011 through June 30 of this year, the City of Chicago paid $418.3 million in settlements and judgments to plaintiffs filing lawsuits and claims against the city alleging police abuse. And the number keeps growing: The City Council Finance Committee will consider another $11.7 million in legal settlements on Tuesday.

EDITORIAL

Add in the city’s practice of financing settlements by selling bonds, with their attendant fees and interest charges, and the overall cost can easily double. And the money comes right out of taxpayers’ pockets, not from some insurance company, because the city is self-insured.

Also adding to the cost is the city’s practice of hiring outside lawyers to handle many of the cases. Through October, the city has paid more than $30 million just to lawyers handling complaints related to disgraced former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge. The outside legal fees in just the case of Stanley Wrice, who alleges Burge’s crew tortured him into falsely confessing to a 1982 rape, have reached $1.6 million and will continue to climb.

As for the settlements and judgements themselves, earlier this year the Burge-related cases were estimated to be $120 million and growing.

One way to reduce the cost of police misconduct would be to revise the city’s police contract. As reform groups have pointed out, the next police contract should be rewritten to make it easier to dismiss the relatively few problem cops who drive up the costs of settlements.

Among those proposed reforms:

• Don’t make people who want to make a complaint file a sworn affidavit or have their name turned over before an officer can be questioned about an allegation. The current system deters people who fear retaliation.

• Eliminate the rule that allows police officers to wait 24 hours before providing statements after police-involved shootings, and don’t let officers amend their statements after reviewing video or audio evidence.

RELATED: Another $9.3 million settlement added to mountain of Burge torture claims

• Dump the ban on rewards for police officer whistleblowers. And eliminate a provision that requires the destruction of police misconduct records after five years. Limitations on what interrogators can ask of officers when they are investigating police misconduct also should be stricken from the contract.

Police misconduct leaves a wake of distrust in communities and is shattering to the victims. Chicago’s ranking as the city that probably spends the most on police misconduct is one we should be in a hurry to lose.

Sun-Times Editorial Board, 12/10/2018, Chicago Sun Times, “EDITORIAL: High cost of police misconduct is financially breaking our city”, https://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/chicago-high-cost-police-misconduct/

City Settles Cop Code Of Silence Case After Failing To Cough Up Report

CHICAGO (CBS) — Just before it was supposed to be considered by a jury, the city of Chicago moved to settle a major police misconduct case in which it failed to produce a critical disciplinary report involving the officer until the middle of the trial – years after such documents were first requested, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The families of two men sued the city and ex-Chicago cop Joseph Frugoli, who was driving drunk when he was involved in a fiery crash in 2009 on the Dan Ryan Expressway, killing Fausto Manzera, 21, and Andrew Cazares, 23.

The families contended that Frugoli thought he could drink and drive with impunity since he was protected by the “code of silence” within the police department.

“He drank and he drove, all the while knowing he’d be shielded by the CPD if he were pulled over,” Tim Cavanagh, an attorney for the Cazares family, said during his closing argument, before city lawyers interjected to ask U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall for a sidebar.

Minutes later, the settlement was announced.

Family attorneys declined to release the settlement terms pending its approval by City Council.

“In all cases, we consider many factors, including the likelihood of an adverse judgment, when choosing to recommend a settlement to the City Council,” city Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said. “This lawsuit is no different, and we will recommend that it is in the best interests of the taxpayers that the case be settled.”

In his closing, Cavanagh continually hammered the city for withholding the “smoking gun” documents in the case — evidence that only came to light four days ago.

Those documents describe how Frugoli was suspended for five days in 1992 after he allegedly punched two people at the First Base Tavern in Bridgeport, grabbed one by the throat, threw them on a pool table and hit them with pool cues. He also allegedly threw glasses and broke two bar stools.

The off-duty cop later admitted he’d been drinking but “was not intoxicated.” A sergeant would testify that she’d reached the same conclusion. But Frugoli was never given a field sobriety test or Breathalyzer, records show. And he was allowed to drive away from the scene.

“We never got those critical documents before trial,” Cavanagh told jurors. “It’s obvious. These documents prove our case.”

The bar fight put Frugoli on a “path of destruction” up to the fatal crash. Frugoli was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2012 for driving drunk and killing the men.

His testimony last week triggered the discovery of the new evidence when the imprisoned ex-cop testified about being disciplined after the bar fight. He got away with a five-day suspension.

“I think the code of silence is so deep, so entrenched, that Joe Frugoli tried to help the city out in this case, and thought it would be helpful to say that he had been suspended in the past,” Cavanagh told reporters after the settlement was reached.

That testimony instead opened a “big can of worms” for the city, Cavanagh said, leading to the documents that attorneys for the families had asked for years ago.

“They proved what we had been saying for the last eight years: There’s a code of silence with alcohol-related incidents in the city of Chicago, and city cops gave Joe Frugoli a couple of passes, and that led to this horrible crash on April 10, 2009,” Cavanagh said.

Kevin Conway, an attorney for the Manzera family, said afterward that there had been no discussion of a settlement until the past two days, after the new documents came to light.

“The Manzera and Cazares families have suffered a tremendous amount,” Conway said. Family members huddled together in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building declined to speak with reporters.

The city has repeatedly found itself in hot water for failing to turn over evidence in police misconduct cases. Cavanagh said he didn’t think city lawyers intentionally withheld the 116 pages of Frugoli’s disciplinary reports.

“It’s something that the judge, quite frankly, she’ll still have jurisdiction to look at and see why were these critical documents not turned over during the case. It prejudiced our ability to get all the facts in front of the jury,” he said.

The attorneys declined to say if any sanctions against the city were included in the terms of the settlement.

Asked if the code of silence exists, Cavanagh said there “can’t be any doubt about it.”

“This family has been victimized by it, and it’s time for the city to take responsibility and get rid of it,” he said.

Frugoli is scheduled for release from prison in April 2019.

 

Police ‘Code of Silence’ Is on Trial After Murder by Chicago Officer

 
Three Chicago police officers — from left, David March, Thomas Gaffney and Joseph Walsh — are accused of covering up what had really happened when a white police officer shot Laquan McDonald, a black teenager.CreditCreditPool photo by Zbigniew Bzdak

By Monica Davey

 

CHICAGO — Inside a cramped and worn courtroom, three white police officers are on trial in connection with the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald. But these officers never fired their guns. Their crime, prosecutors say, was concocting a story to cover up for a colleague who did.

As prosecutors tell it, Chicago police officers shooed away eyewitnesses after the shooting on Oct. 20, 2014, and then made up a narrative to justify the shooting. They said in official reports that the teenager had tried to stab three officers, and that he had tried to get up from the ground as 16 shots were being fired into him.

The only hitch? Dashcam video footage of the encounter contradicted their account.

Patricia Brown Holmes, a special prosecutor trying the three officers on charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice, told a judge last week: “Instead of serving and protecting all citizens of Chicago, the defendants tried to protect only one — Jason Van Dyke,” the police officer who was convicted this fall of second-degree murder in the shooting.

On trial along with the officers is the “code of silence” that police officers across the country have been accused of operating under. In Chicago, the issue has been around for decades, bubbling up in recent years in cases involving a drunk-driving officer, an off-duty officer’s beating of a bartender and a lawsuit by two police officers who said they faced retaliation after breaking the code.

“Every police officer has seen the code of silence in action,” said Lorenzo Davis, a former Chicago officer who rose through the ranks to commander over a career of more than two decades. He was later an investigator for an oversight agency of the police department, and was awarded $2.8 million by a jury this year after suing the city, saying he had been fired from the agency because he refused to change his findings concerning police shootings that he deemed unjustified.

By Mr. Davis’s description, the code of silence can be subtle. An officer, even one who was close by, may say that he didn’t see what happened at a crucial moment. And the penalties can be frightening: colleagues may not arrive as quickly to help an officer in danger who is considered a snitch.

“The code of silence works a lot like a family situation,” Mr. Davis said. “You cannot tell on your family members. You just know that. No one has to tell you that. If you have a partner, you’re going to back up your partner.”

The president of the police union in Chicago, Kevin Graham, said through a spokesman that no such code of silence exists, calling the claim nonsense. “How the special prosecutor can construe a ‘code of silence’ theory defies belief,” Mr. Graham said after the charges against the three officers were announced.

And Eddie Johnson, the superintendent of the Chicago Police and a 30-year veteran of the force, said this year — in a sworn deposition related to a separate police shooting lawsuit — that he was unaware of any such code. Through a spokesman, Superintendent Johnson declined to elaborate on the matter this week, citing limits on speaking with reporters that were set by the judge in the trial of the three officers.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel has acknowledged the existence of a code. In late 2015, in the days after Chicagoans first saw damning video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald — video that the city had fought to keep out of public view — the mayor called for major changes in policing in a speech at City Hall. Facing demands for his resignation, Mr. Emanuel condemned what he said was sometimes called a “code of silence” or “a thin blue line.”

“It is the tendency to ignore, it is a tendency to deny, it is a tendency in some cases to cover up the bad actions of a colleague or colleagues,” Mr. Emanuel said in the emotional speech.

Mr. Emanuel’s remarks joined a series of disclosures, court findings and report conclusions in recent years that have drawn attention to a code of silence in Chicago, and, some say, have set off a gradual process of dismantling it.

In 2012, a federal jury awarded $850,000 to Karolina Obrycka, a bartender who was beaten by an off-duty Chicago police officer, Anthony Abbate, in an incident that was caught on security video. Ms. Obrycka asserted in her lawsuit that a broad code of silence in Chicago had emboldened Mr. Abbate’s behavior.

The city reached a $2 million settlement in 2016 with two officers — Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria — who said they experienced retaliation after exposing a fellow officer who was accused of shaking down drug dealers and of framing people who would not go along with other crimes.

And in 2017, the Department of Justice issued a scathing report on the Chicago police that found, in part, that a code of silence was getting in the way of holding officers accountable for misconduct.

For all the attention, though, the attitude that officers back one another up has yet to change, according to Terry Ekl, a lawyer who represented Ms. Obrycka in her suit. “The fact of the matter is that a code of silence exists,” he said. “As long as you and I are alive, it’s going to be there. It would take the leadership at the top stating that we’re not going to tolerate this any longer, and if you do this, you’ll be fired.”

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In the case playing out now in a Chicago courtroom, the three officers — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — have denied that they covered up for the officer who shot Laquan McDonald and tried to make the shooting appear justified.

Mr. March, who has resigned from the department, was the detective assigned to investigate the shooting. James McKay, a lawyer for Mr. March, told Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson that Mr. March merely carried out his duties. “He wrote down what the witnesses told him,” Mr. McKay said, adding that Mr. March was not assigned to be a “judge and jury” of what the officers reported had happened.

Mr. Walsh has also resigned from the department. He was the partner of Mr. Van Dyke, the officer who fired all the shots, on the night of the shooting. Mr. Walsh’s lawyer, Todd Pugh, said Mr. Walsh had only worked with Mr. Van Dyke once before, suggesting that his client had little reason to cover up for Mr. Van Dyke. If the video footage of the shooting conflicted with the way Mr. Walsh had described the events in reports, it was a matter of different perceptions of the same information based on one’s viewpoint, Mr. Pugh said.

Mr. Gaffney was one of the officers who first confronted Laquan McDonald on the evening of the shooting, after police got a report of a man breaking into trucks on the city’s Southwest Side. Mr. Gaffney and other officers had followed the teenager, who was carrying a knife and ignoring orders to stop, for several blocks. William Fahy, Mr. Gaffney’s lawyer, told the judge that Mr. Gaffney had showed appropriate restraint on the night of the shooting, but was now being charged because the authorities “disagree with the report that he wrote.” Mr. Fahy described the notion of a conspiracy among the officers to protect Mr. Van Dyke as “complete and utter nonsense.”

For some, the case has raised another question: Why are only three officers on trial?

Nine officers were at the scene when Officer Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald, and police officials moved to fire seven officers who they said gave questionable accounts of the shooting. Grand jurors indicted three officers but declined to indict any others.

“You have to wonder, where is the brass in all this — where are the top bosses?” said Ms. Spalding, one of the officers who sued and received a settlement from the city in 2016.

Ms. Spalding described the trial now underway as a “puppet show for the public,” to create the appearance that someone was being held accountable for false accounts after Laquan McDonald’s death. “You’re putting a couple officers on trial,” she said. “But don’t think for one minute that everyone didn’t know.”

Monica Davey, The New York Times, “Police ‘Code of Silence’ Is on Trial After Murder by Chicago Officer

Protests in Chicago continue after officials release video of police shooting


People march, shout, pray and protest against the alleged shooting of Harith Augustus by a Chicago Police officer during a confrontation in Chicago on 15 July 2018. (Tannen Maury/Tannen Maury/Epa-Efe/Rex/Shutterstock)

Tensions escalated in a Chicago neighborhood Monday, a day after the police department released a video showing officers skirmishing with a black man and then shooting him in the street on Saturday.

A rally late Monday on the spot where the shooting took place attracted about 200 people who chanted in unison. Some onlookers argued in the middle of the street about whether the police had a good reason to shoot. Two police helicopters hovered overhead. Suddenly, a middle-aged man darted up to police officers watching the scene.

“Human beings don’t behave like that!” he screamed at them. An elderly woman from the corner joined in. “You’re hurting people!” she yelled.

“It’s gotten worse since Saturday,” said Kay Thomas, 16, who was carrying groceries home from the corner Walgreen’s. “I never saw my neighborhood this upset.”

To many black and Latino residents on the city’s South and West sides, the Saturday afternoon shooting of Harith Augustus, a barber in the South Shore neighborhood, is unquestionably linked to the 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald, an unarmed 17-year-old. The aftermath of that shooting resulted in an incriminating report by the U.S. Department of Justice into practices by the police department, the electoral ouster of State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the firing of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and fresh vulnerability for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is in the midst of a reelection bid for a third term in February 2019.

Turning up the heat this summer is the pending trial of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder for shooting McDonald 16 times as he backed slowly away. A police dashboard-camera video in that case was released more than a year after Emanuel narrowly won a second term. Van Dyke’s attorney is trying to move the trial from Chicago because he argues that the officer cannot get a fair trial here.

Many here think the outcome of that trial will be a watershed moment.

“Nobody is taking [violence] seriously. The police aren’t. The alderman isn’t. The mayor don’t give a damn. The community is the only ones taking it seriously,” said Janet, 58, a neighborhood resident who did not want her last name used.

Unlike in the McDonald case, Chicago police released the Augustus tape to the public the next day. It shows two officers approaching Augustus as he stands on a sidewalk calmly talking with another officer. One of the officers grabs his wrist from behind, which causes him to spin around and run. A gun is seen as his shirt flies up, and he is shot as he runs off. There is no audio, and the circumstances related to the shooting are unknown. Police say the officer was placed on desk duty for 30 days; the shooting is under investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA).

Activists in groups such as Black Lives Matter and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression say that is not enough. At the march late Monday, as protesters marched to the barbershop where Augustus worked, activists called for the officer’s name to be released and for the officer’s firing. They also want an all-elected civilian council to replace COPA and have oversight on all matters related to police misconduct. Most of the appointees on COPA, which was created after the McDonald shooting, were named by Emanuel.

Some on Monday said they recognize that the police have a difficult job. But they questioned the decision to shoot to kill and said they want more video with audio released to give a full picture. Bill, 50, who did not want his last name used, said he watched the video and was troubled that the confrontation escalated. “It should have been handled differently,” he said. “I just hope that what comes out of this is something good.”

Since the release of the McDonald video in November 2015, rallies and marches have almost become a way of life in Chicago. Protesters have performed die-ins at City Hall, shut down Christmas shopping along Michigan Avenue, and regularly march in the Loop. The weekend before the Augustus shooting, 3,000 people marched down the Dan Ryan Expressway to protest gun violence.

All of those protests have been nonviolent. But on Saturday night, a five-hour march ended in baton-wielding police officers chasing and striking protesters, some of whom threw rocks and glass bottles in their direction.

Emanuel has not made a public statement about Saturday’s shooting and the street violence that followed.

Emanuel has become a focus of critics who say that his priorities are wrong when it comes to investment in the city, favoring downtown and North Side development over neighborhoods that need jobs and infrastructure. His opponents have been particularly critical of a $95 million police and fire academy Emanuel pushed through for City Council approval in May.

Most of Emanuel’s leading challengers released statements Monday suggesting that they understand the public dismay with police accountability and the need for change. Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot, once an Emanuel appointee to lead the police board, said the police violence toward protesters Saturday night demands an investigation.

“The images I saw from a variety of sources raise serious questions about supervision, use of force and equipment, as well as tactics deployed,” she said.

Another challenger, Troy LaRaviere, a former Chicago Public Schools principal, questioned whether the shooting was justified and why the video lacked audio.

“Our system of policing has been found to unjustly target African American communities for everything from issuing parking tickets, to setting up DUI checkpoints, to the unconstitutional use of force,” he wrote on Facebook. “It is of great concern to know this same disparate system is being used to stop African American men who — like many white Chicagoans — arm themselves for protection.”

However, McCarthy, the former Chicago police superintendent fired by Emanuel after the release of the McDonald video, wrote on Twitter that the shooting “appears to be justified.” He also suggested that Augustus fled from officers because there remains a lingering lack of trust between the community and the police.

“Incidents like this underscore the need for a new mayor who can bring us together, promote understanding, and open dialogue,” he said.

Yet almost as a reminder that the violence problem is urgent, two women were shot by random bullets fired from a car one block north of the rally 45 minutes before it started. Both victims were taken to nearby hospitals.

Mark Guarino. July 16, 2018, Washington Post, “Protests in Chicago continue after officials release video of police shooting”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/hundreds-protest-in-chicago-over-police-shooting/2018/07/16/08276a88-8960-11e8-85ae-511bc1146b0b_story.html?utm_term=.aaf22d1aaabe

Chicago Police Release Bodycam Footage Of Deadly Shooting

Maggie Penman,

This frame grab from police bodycam video provided by the Chicago Police Department shows authorities trying to apprehend a suspect (center), who appeared to be armed, Saturday in Chicago. The suspect was fatally shot by police during the confrontation.

Chicago Police Department via AP

Updated at 6:36 p.m. ET

Protests in Chicago escalated on Saturday night, becoming a tense clash between demonstrators and police over the fatal shooting of a man on the city’s South Side.

On Sunday, police released a 30-second video clip from an officer’s body-worn camera showing a black man shot by Chicago police had a gun in a holster at his hip. According to The Associated Press, the man was “running away and reaching toward his waist when he was shot multiple times.”

The AP reports four officers are seen in the video approaching the man outside a store:

“An officer points to Augustus’ waist and he backs away. Three officers try to grab his arms and he tries to get away, backing into a police cruiser as his shirt flies up and shows the gun.

“The footage pauses and zooms in on the weapon. He then runs away and into the street as a police SUV drives up. He spins and darts between the SUV and the police cruiser as he reaches toward his waist.

The medical examiner has identified the deceased as 37-year-old Harith Augustus.

The original story continues below

The Chicago Tribune described a chaotic scene:

“The shooting happened around 5:30 p.m. at 2098 E. 71st St., and it took police about five hours to bring things under control. Some people screamed “murderers” as officers lined up against them. Some in the crowd held cameras up to take video, while others behind them threw rocks and glass bottles, some filled with urine.

“As officers tried to contain the crowd, some of them dragged people to the ground or struck them with batons. Other officers held batons over their heads to ward off people yelling at them.”

A reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times, Nader Issa, tweeted that he was “repeatedly pushed” by police officers, and that officers also smacked his phone out of his hands.

Puff the Magic Hater @MsKellyMHayes

A black flag waving outside the police station on Cottage Grove in Chicago.

Maggie Penman, , NPR, “Chicago Police Release Bodycam Footage Of Deadly Shooting”, https://www.npr.org/2018/07/15/629226998/protests-break-out-in-chicago-following-deadly-police-shooting

Protests erupt after Chicago police fatally shoot man

CHICAGO — An angry crowd shouted and threw bottles at Chicago police after an officer fatally shot a man on the city’s South Side Saturday, prompting the arrest of at least four demonstrators.

Chicago police patrol chief Fred Waller told a news conference that the man was shot in the South Shore neighborhood after police officers on foot tried to question him because “the bulge around his waistband” suggested he was armed. The man became combative and eventually broke free from the officers, Waller said.

“They thought he appeared to be reaching for a weapon, which he did have a weapon on him, and the officers tragically shot him,” he said.

The unidentified man was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead. Waller said police believe the man did not have a concealed carry permit for the semi-automatic weapon. He also had magazines of ammunition, Waller said.

Immediately after the shooting, an angry crowd gathered and began jostling with police, who had cordoned off the area. Waller said protesters threw bottles and jumped on top of a squad car. Police then moved in wielding batons to stop them.

“It got a little bit out of hand. Several arrests were made,” Waller said.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that four protesters were arrested.

Several police officers were slightly injured in the scuffles, Waller said, and some squad cars were damaged.

After nightfall, protesters continued to mill around the neighborhood with police occasionally chasing them away. Video showed one protester thrown to the ground surrounded by police holding batons.

Chicago has a troubled history of police shootings. The city erupted in protest in 2015 after the release of a video showing white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. Van Dyke was charged with murder. McDonald’s death led to the ouster of the police chief and a series of reforms designed to prevent future police abuses and to hold officers accountable.

Associated Press, July 15, 2018, NY Post, “Protests erupt after Chicago police fatally shoot man”, https://nypost.com/2018/07/15/protests-erupt-after-chicago-police-fatally-shoot-man/

Cook County prosecutors bar 10 Chicago cops from testifying because of ties to corrupt ex-Sgt. Ronald Watts

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Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, April 24, 2018

Ten Chicago cops with ties to disgraced former Sgt. Ronald Watts are no longer being called as witnesses in any criminal cases in Cook County out of “concerns about their credibility,” according to records released Monday by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

The unusual move was made five months ago after Foxx’s office threw out the convictions of 15 men who were allegedly framed by Watts and his crew, according to a letter sent to the Chicago Police Department’s chief legal counsel on Nov. 17.

Joe Magats, chief of the state’s attorney’s Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, wrote in the letter that after reviewing those cases, it was decided the 10 officers who worked closely with Watts could no longer be used as witnesses in pending or future criminal prosecutions “due to concerns about their credibility and alleged involvement in the misconduct.”

A total of 15 police officers associated with Watts’ crew over the years were placed on desk duty five months ago pending an internal Police Department investigation.

The decision by Foxx to reject the word of 10 veteran officers marked the latest fallout in a growing scandal over Watts’ nearly decadelong run of corruption, which ended in 2012 when he and another member of his team, Officer Kallatt Mohammed, were arrested for shaking down a drug courier who turned out to be an FBI informant.

So far, the scandal has prompted the state’s attorney’s office to reverse 31 convictions secured by Watts and his team, including the county’s first “mass exoneration” in November when cases against the 15 men were dismissed.

Several of those who were allegedly framed have since filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the city, Watts and other officers on his team. Records produced in that litigation show that the city’s police disciplinary agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, is currently conducting its own investigations into 22 cases involving Watts.

Asked last week why it was taking months for the internal police investigation to wrap up, Superintendent Eddie Johnson said reviewing nearly two decades worth of records takes time.

“I’m not going to rush to do anything just so that it appeases people that, you know, ‘finally something happened,’ ” Johnson said. “Because I want to get it right.”

Watts and his crew of tactical officers were accused of orchestrating a reign of terror at the now-razed Ida B. Wells public housing complex on the South Side, systematically forcing residents and drug dealers alike to pay a “protection” tax and putting bogus cases on those who refused to do so.

In case after case, when Watts’ targets complained — to the Police Department or in court — judges, prosecutors and internal affairs investigators all believed the testimony of Watts and other officers over their accusers, records show.

The cases also highlighted a broken system of police discipline that allegedly protected corrupt officers and punished those who tried to expose his corruption. Despite mounting allegations, Watts continued to operate for years amid a lengthy police internal affairs probe as well as investigations by the state’s attorney’s office and the FBI, according to court records.

In fact, two Chicago police officers who alleged they were blackballed for trying to expose Watts’ corruption years ago won a $2 million settlement in their whistleblower lawsuit.

When Watts was finally caught, it was on relatively minor federal charges. He wound up being sentenced to just 22 months in prison.

After his release, Watts moved to Las Vegas, records show. He has made no public comment about the allegations against him. In a recent response in one of the pending lawsuits, Watts invoked his Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination more than 40 times, court records show.

Jason Meisner, April 24, 2018, Chicago Tribune, “Cook County prosecutors bar 10 Chicago cops from testifying because of ties to corrupt ex-Sgt. Ronald Watts”, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-chicago-cops-corruption-ronald-watts-20180423-story.html

City settles police misconduct lawsuit after new evidence surfaces — again

 

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Sun-Times file photo