4 things: The cost of Jon Burge’s police torture legacy

Elvia Malagon, Chicago Tribune, September 21, 2018

There are many ways to measure the legacy of disgraced Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge. There’s the alleged torture suspects suffered — a means of forcing confessions — at the hands of officers under his supervision. And the years those who were wrongly convicted spent behind bars. Taxpayers have paid a hefty price, too, as the city county and state settled lawsuit after lawsuit.

We learned in recent days that Burge died, at the age of 70, in Florida. A Vietnam veteran, Burge started working for the Chicago police in 1970 and moved up the ranks to commander. Stories of the violence committed under Burge — including beatings, electric shock, suffocation with typewriter covers and games of Russian roulette — began to surface and by 1993 he was fired. Years later, he was convicted of lying to federal authorities about his conduct and was sent to prison.

His death is a reminder of the price paid by so many in the wake of the torture revelations. Here are four examples:

26 years

Alton Logan spent 26 years in prison for murder before the lawyers of another man, Andrew Wilson, came forward to point the finger at their client. Wilson, who had just died, confessed to the killing, the legal team said. They said they couldn’t say anything before that because they were bound to attorney-client privilege while he was still alive. In the wake of that revelation, Logan was initially released on bond and eventually the Illinois attorney general’s office dismissed the charges against him.

$132 million

The Chicago-based People’s Law Office, which handled torture-related lawsuits, calculates that the torture cases involving Burge and officers he oversaw have cost the city, Cook County and state of Illinois $132 million. That figure includes settlements and legal fees that were paid to individuals who said they were tortured.

The city of Chicago has paid $83 million alone in settlements related to torture cases under Burge, according to figures compiled by the People’s Law Office. The city reached one of the largest settlements — totaling $10.2 million — with Alton Logan in 2013. Logan had been convicted and sentenced to life in the 1982 fatal shooting of Lloyd Wickliffee, who had been working security at a South Side McDonald’s. Logan had taken Burge to court, arguing that evidence that could have proved he was innocent was hidden. The state of Illinois paid Logan $200,000 after he was exonerated, according to the People’s Law Office.

The city also paid out $10.2 million to Eric Caine, who had been convicted of the 1986 murders of an elderly couple. He spent about 25 years in prison until a Cook County judge tossed the conviction in 2011. He had alleged that detectives working under Burge tortured him until he provided a false confession.

Reparations package

In 2015, the Chicago City Council approved a $5.5 million reparations package for people who were tortured during Burge’s time with the Chicago police. The package include settlements up to $100,000 for 57 victims, said Flint Taylor, an attorney with the People’s Law Office. Victims who had already gotten settlements from the city for more than $100,000 were not eligible. Victims and their families were also eligible to receive tuition for classes at City College and could receive job training services.

The reparations package also led to the opening of the Chicago Torture Justice Center in Englewood to provide a variety of services to Burge’s victims and the community impacted by police brutality. The package also called for public school students in eighth grade and 10th grade to learn about the Burge torture era, according to a news release from the city at the time.

Burge’s police pension: $4,000 monthly

Burge continued to collect a his taxpayer-funded monthly pension of more than $4,000, according to the People’s Law Office. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had previously tried to challenge the pension payments, but it was tossed out by the Illinois Supreme Court. The state’s high court ruled that the Retirement Board of the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago has the jurisdiction to decide if the monthly pension should be terminated.

“This opinion should not be read, in any way, as diminishing the seriousness of Burge’s actions while a supervisor at Area Two, or the seriousness of police misconduct in general. As noted, the question in this appeal is limited solely to who decides whether a police officer’s pension benefits should be terminated when he commits a felony,” the court’s ruling stated.

Elvia Malagon, Chicago Tribune, September 21, 2018, 9“4 things: The cost of Jon Burge’s police torture legacy”, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-four-things-jon-burge-torture-chicago-police-20180921-story.html

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‘A Stain on the City’: 63 People’s Convictions Tossed in Chicago Police Scandal

Mark Rotert, head of the conviction integrity unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, spoke to reporters after a judge in Chicago threw out the convictions of 15 men in 2017.CreditCreditTeresa Crawford/Associated Press

By Christine Hauser, Feb. 13, 2019

In 2012, a Chicago police sergeant and an officer were arrested in an undercover operation for stealing $5,200 from a person carrying what they thought was cash for drug dealers. The officers eventually entered plea deals, but the arrests led to scrutiny of the tactics they and their team had used while making drug arrests at the Ida B. Wells housing complex on Chicago’s South Side for years.

This week, 14 men with drug convictions related to those cases were exonerated — four of them on Wednesday and 10 on Monday. With those exonerations, 63 men and women have had their cases vacated because of the involvement of Sgt. Ronald Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed, lawyers for the 14 men said.

“It is a stain on the city,” said Joshua Tepfer, a lawyer with the University of Chicago Law School’s Exoneration Project, which has represented 47 of the 63 people exonerated.

“One thing that goes without saying is the reason they were covered up is they were viewed as a disposable people who live in the housing projects,” he said. “Nobody cared. Nobody believed them.”

Robert Foley, a spokesman for the Cook County state’s attorney, said on Tuesday in an email that the State’s Attorney’s Office would continue to review the matters on a case-by-case basis.

The arrests of Sergeant Watts and Officer Mohammed came after F.B.I. and Chicago Police Department investigators recruited an informant to tell the two law enforcement officers that the informant was carrying the $5,200 for a drug trafficker, a statement from the United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois said at the time of their arrest in 2012.

The two officers took the money, and then paid the informant $400 “for allowing them to steal the drug proceeds” in 2011, the statement said. “Who always takes care of you?” Sergeant Watts told the informant, according to the statement.

After their arrests, Sergeant Watts and Officer Mohammed were charged with theft of government funds. Officer Mohammed entered a plea agreement in 2012 and was sentenced to 18 months, and Sergeant Watts pleaded guilty in 2013 and was sentenced to 22 months, according to Joseph Fitzpatrick, an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District.

A lawyer for former Sergeant Watts and representatives for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday; the Chicago Police Department and a lawyer for former Officer Mohammed declined to comment.

Ronald Watts leaving court after being sentenced to 22 months of prison in 2013.CreditPhil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press
Ronald Watts leaving court after being sentenced to 22 months of prison in 2013.CreditPhil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press

But people who had been arrested by Sergeant Watts and Officer Mohammed took note. They petitioned to vacate the convictions that had resulted from Sergeant Watts and his team’s arrests years before.

“A lot of those convictions then fell by the wayside,” said James A. Graham, a lawyer who represented Officer Mohammed at the time he took the plea deal.

The Exoneration Project and another Chicago-area lawyer, Joel Flaxman, worked to vet cases of convicted men and women who said they were innocent of the charges imposed on them by members of the team led by Sergeant Watts and who had filed misconduct complaints against the officers.

Once vetted, their cases are turned over to Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. In November 2017, the State’s Attorney’s Office said it filed the first of its motions to vacate the convictions of people based on concerns regarding allegations of misconduct of the arresting officers, including Sergeant Watts. In subsequent statements on exonerations, Kimberly M. Foxx, the state’s attorney, linked additional exonerations to “the misconduct” of the officers.

“We found a pattern of misconduct by Watts and other officers in these cases, which caused our office to lose confidence in the initial arrests and validity of these convictions,” Ms. Foxx said last year.“May the defendants, who we now believe were victims, find a path forward in healing and justice.”

Leonard Gipson, whose convictions were among the first vacated in 2017, said in an interview on Wednesday that he had spent time incarcerated in 2003 and in 2007 after being charged with delivering crack and heroin.

“The biggest impact was it took a lot of time away from my kids growing up,” he said, speaking of his children, who are now 18 and 16. “I missed out on so much time in their life. And I don’t think it is really possible to make up that time.”

On Monday and Wednesday, Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. of Cook County, during a hearing in Chicago, granted further motions and vacated the convictions of the 10 men. Two of the four were in court on Wednesday, said Mr. Flaxman, who represented the four in court.

“The floodgates opened of people coming out of the woodwork and saying, ‘Hey, it happened to us,’” Mr. Flaxman said.

It is not clear how many more convictions will be challenged. Some people sought exonerations after their sentences had been served, while others are still in prison, Mr. Tepfer said. About 15 police officers who had worked on Sergeant Watts’s team were put on desk duty, but the Chicago Police Department declined to comment on Wednesday.

“There is a ton to unpack,” he said. “We are going to be doing this for years.”

Christine Hauser, Feb. 13, 2019, NYTimes, ‘A Stain on the City’: 63 People’s Convictions Tossed in Chicago Police Scandal”, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/us/chicago-exonerations-drug-sentences.html

Chicago cops acquitted of cover-up charge in black teen’s killing

Relatives of Laquan McDonald, killed in 2014, call ruling step backwards for black community’s fight for justice.

Reverend Marvin Hunter: 'To say that these men are not guilty is to say that Jason Van Dyke is not guilty' [Noreen Nasir/AP]
Reverend Marvin Hunter: ‘To say that these men are not guilty is to say that Jason Van Dyke is not guilty’ [Noreen Nasir/AP]

Activists and relatives of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager in the United States who was killed by a white police officer more than four years ago, have decried a court ruling that acquitted three current and former Chicago officers of conspiring to protect a white colleague by lying about the circumstances around the fatal shooting.

The October 2014 killing of 17-year-old McDonald, which was captured on police video, triggered months of protests and became emblematic of long-standing police abuse in Chicago, the country’s third-largest city.

On Thursday, Judge Domenica Stephenson acquitted officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney and detective David March of trying to cover up the shooting, dismissing as just one perspective the shocking dashcam video of McDonald’s killing that also led to a federal investigation of the police department and the rare murder conviction of an officer.

White Chicago cop convicted of murder in shooting of black teen (2:22)

In casting off the prosecution’s entire case, the judge seemed to accept many of the same defence arguments that were rejected in October by jurors who convicted officer Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Today’s acquittals are a painful reminder of the complete lack of structural accountability for CPD. We are committed to working with our clients and partners to ensure the ‘code of silence’ stops shielding officers from accountability <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/justiceforlaquan?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#justiceforlaquan</a&gt; <a href=”https://t.co/nw1g4EVKEU”>https://t.co/nw1g4EVKEU</a></p>&mdash; ACLU of Illinois (@ACLUofIL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ACLUofIL/status/1086006776758177792?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>
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He is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, facing up to 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction and up to 30 years for each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot he fired at McDonald, who was carrying a knife.

The judge said the video showed only one viewpoint of the confrontation and that there was no indication the officers tried to hide evidence.

“The evidence shows just the opposite,” she said. She singled out how they preserved the graphic video at the heart of the case.

THE LISTENING POST: Cops, lies and videotape: the death of Laquan McDonald (9:05)

‘Sad day for America’

McDonald’s family questioned how the two cases could produce such different decisions.

His great uncle, the Reverend Marvin Hunter, told reporters that the verdict means “that if you are a police officer you can lie, cheat and steal”, adding that it proved the city’s legal system was “corrupt”.

“This is not justice,” he said. “To say that these men are not guilty is to say that Jason Van Dyke is not guilty,” Hunter added, describing the verdict was a step backwards for the black community’s struggles for justice.

“It is a sad day for America.”

Karen Sheley, of the ACLU of Illinois, said in a statement: “The court’s decision does nothing to exonerate a police department so rotten that a teenager can be murdered – on video – by one of its officers.”

The case has provoked periodic street protests since 2015, when the video came to light, and the acquittals could renew that movement.

Eric Russell, executive director of Tree of Life Justice League, a police accountability advocacy group from Chicago’s West Side, said he and other leaders expected hundreds to protest against the verdict on Friday before Van Dyke’s sentencing.

“We will be down here tomorrow by the hundreds, and we will cry out for justice for Laquan,” Russell said.

Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said she hoped the verdict would not make officers reluctant to come forward when they see misconduct. Her key witness, officer Dora Fontaine, described how she had become a pariah in the department and was called a “rat” by fellow officers.

The trial was watched closely by law enforcement and critics of the department, which has long had a reputation for condoning police brutality.

Walsh, Gaffney and March were accused of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice. All but Gaffney have since left the department. They asked the judge, rather than a jury, to hear the evidence.

After the verdict, Walsh would say only that the ordeal of being charged and tried was “heart-breaking for my family, a year and a half”.

In her ruling, the judge rejected prosecution arguments that the video demonstrated officers were lying when they described McDonald as moving and posing a threat even after he was shot.

“An officer could have reasonably believed an attack was imminent,” she said. “It was borne out in the video that McDonald continued to move after he fell to the ground” and refused to relinquish a knife.

The video appeared to show the teen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots and moving in large part because bullets kept striking his body for 10 more seconds.

The judge said it’s not unusual for two witnesses to describe events in starkly different ways. “It does not necessarily mean that one is lying,” she said.

The judge also noted several times that the vantage points of various officers who witnessed the shooting were “completely different”. That could explain why their accounts did not sync with what millions of people saw in the video.

FAULT LINES: Confidential: Surveilling Black Lives Matter (25:53)

Both Van Dyke’s trial and that of the three other officers hinged on the video, which showed the former opening fire within seconds of getting out of his police vehicle and continuing to shoot the teenager while he was lying on the street. Police were responding to a report of a male who was breaking into trucks and stealing radios on the city’s South Side.

Prosecutors alleged that Gaffney, March and Walsh, who were Van Dyke’s partners, submitted false reports about what happened to try to prevent or shape any criminal investigation of the shooting. Among other things, they said the officers falsely claimed that Van Dyke shot McDonald after the latter aggressively swung the knife at the officers and that he kept shooting the teen because McDonald was trying to get up still armed with the knife.

McDonald had used the knife to puncture a tyre on Gaffney’s police vehicle, but the video shows that he did not swing it at the officers before Van Dyke shot him and that he appeared to be incapacitated after falling to the ground.

Attorneys for Gaffney, Walsh and March used the same strategy that the defence used at Van Dyke’s trial by placing all the blame on McDonald.

It was McDonald’s refusal to drop his knife and other threatening actions that “caused these officers to see what they saw”, March’s lawyer, James McKay, told the court. “This is a case about law and order (and) about Laquan McDonald not following any laws that night.”

City Hall released the video to the public in November 2015 – 13 months after the shooting – and acted only because a judge ordered it to do so. The charges against Van Dyke were not announced until the day of the video’s release.

The case cost the police superintendent his job and was widely seen as the reason the county’s top prosecutor was voted out of office a few months later. It was also thought to be a major factor in Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s decision not to seek a third term.

The accusations triggered a federal investigation, resulting in a blistering report that found Chicago officers routinely used excessive force and violated the rights of residents, particularly minorities. The city implemented a new policy that requires the video of fatal police shootings to be released within 60 days, accelerated a programme to equip all officers with body cameras and adopted other reforms to change the way police shootings are investigated.

US: Chicago police accused of racist use of ‘bait trucks’ tactic (2:16)

According to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force database, at least 995 people have been killed by the police in the US in 2018. The Post found that more than 980 people were killed by police the previous year.

The Guardian identified more than 1,090 police killings in 2017.

Nearly a quarter of those killed by police in 2016 were African Americans, although the group accounted for roughly 12 percent of the total US population.

According to watchdog group The Sentencing Project, African American men are six times more likely to be arrested than white men.

These disparities, particularly the killing of African Americans by police, has prompted the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, a popular campaign claiming its objective is ending police violence and dismantling structural racism.

The Contract: Chicago's Police Union
, aljazeera, “Chicago cops acquitted of cover-up charge in black teen’s killing”, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/chicago-cops-acquitted-alleged-coverup-black-teen-killing-190118030811804.html

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

Man wants 1994 murder case tossed, alleges police misconduct

November 12, 2018

Patrick Pursley
FILE – In this June 28, 2017, file photo, Patrick Pursley, left, talks in his attorney’s office in Chicago. Pursley, convicted of murder with inaccurate ballistic evidence, wants his case dismissed on the eve of his retrial based on allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct. Lawyers for Pursley will argue their motion Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2018, the day the trial was scheduled to begin in Winnebago County Court. (AP Photo/Ivan Moreno File)

An Illinois man whose 1994 murder conviction was based on shoddy ballistic evidence wants his case dismissed on the eve of his retrial after allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct surfaced.

Lawyers for Patrick Pursley, 52, will argue their request for dismissal Tuesday, the day the trial had been scheduled to begin in Winnebago County Court. Pursley’s motion cites “due process violations, including failure to disclose significant exculpatory evidence.”

Pursley won a new trial last year after additional ballistic testing proved the gun used to convict him in 1994 for 22-year-old Andy Ascher’s death wasn’t the homicide weapon. The case took a twist last week when James Brun, the assistant state attorney handling the case, disclosed during a pretrial hearing that the victim’s mother told his predecessor a year ago that she believed police planted the firearm.

That information had never been disclosed to Pursley’s attorneys until last week.

“I can confirm it relates to allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct,” said Andrew Vail, one of Pursley’s attorneys, when asked if the motion was related to Brun’s court revelation. He said he could not comment further or offer details of their motion until it’s heard in court.

Katie Zimmerman, a spokeswoman for the Winnebago state’s attorney, confirmed Pursley’s motion had been filed, but said her office “can’t comment on this or any other pending cases at this time.”

A judge granted Pursley a new trial in April 2017. It happened only after Pursley lobbied lawmakers from prison to change state law to allow him to use the Integrated Ballistic Identification System to retest the shell casings used to prosecute him. IBIS, which became available five years after his conviction, compares high-resolution, multi-dimensional images of shell casings to find markings unique to a specific weapon. In Pursley’s case, it failed to match the gun police took from him to the bullets that killed Ascher.

Pursley’s case is the first to make it this far using the Illinois law, and the outcome could help pave a new path to challenge convictions that relied on a flawed process for analyzing ballistic evidence — a practice that has drawn more scientific scrutiny over the past two decades.

Winnebago County prosecutors maintained it was Pursley who fatally shot Ascher in Rockford, Illinois, during a robbery as he sat in a car with his girlfriend on April 2, 1993.

To convict Pursley, prosecutors relied on the shell casings recovered from the scene, which one of their experts testified could only have come from a gun police recovered from Pursley. That was the only physical evidence prosecutors had connecting Pursley to the crime.

Pursley represented himself for years during his appeals before Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, and the law firm Jenner and Block, took on his case for free.

“I had no idea that this day would come,” Pursley said in an interview last week. “I just knew what I had to do to get to this day.”

Pursley has been free on bail since April 2017 and has had speaking engagements at higher education institutions in Illinois, talking about wrongful convictions and addressing gang violence. He’s launched a nonprofit, called “I Am Kid Culture,” dedicated to encouraging youths to go to college and avoid a life of crime. And he’s built a recording studio in the basement of his Rockford home to develop a talent agency for urban youth interested in music.

When Pursley was a teenager, his mother gave custody of him to the state and he spent time in foster homes and group homes, eventually ending up in Rockford. There, he joined a gang and was frequently in trouble with police. That’s why the projects he’s now working on are so important to him, he said.

“I know that gang activity played a large role in my demise as a teenager and into my 20s,” he said. “I just want to be able to help turn that cycle around for others who might be living in these circumstances.”

November 12, 2018, Associated Press, “Man wants 1994 murder case tossed, alleges police misconduct”, https://www.apnews.com/4915aaf20ac4461f943424a957726bd2

Who’s on trial in Chicago

Editorial:

https://www.trbimg.com/img-5ba02a37/turbine/ct-1537223219-i8cyjhmz96-snap-image/1050/1050x591

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, center, arrives for the first day of his murder trial on Sept. 17, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)
September 17, 2018
Editorial Board Editorials reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board, as determined by the members of the board, the editorial page editor and the publisher.

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke arrived at the Cook County courthouse at 26th and California on Monday to face the charges against him: murder, aggravated battery, official misconduct.

Certain facts of the case are not in dispute: Van Dyke pulling up in a marked SUV to the scene of a police encounter with 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on the night of Oct. 20, 2014. McDonald, armed with a knife, disobeying orders to stop walking. Van Dyke firing his weapon 16 times, killing McDonald.

The trial of Van Dyke will play out as several trials. We may learn more about that night. We’ll certainly learn more about the Chicago of 2018, a city on edge. Among those in the dock:

A police officer is on trial for first-degree murder. A jury will determine whether Van Dyke had the legal right to use deadly force against a teen with a knife. If those were the parameters, this would be a high-profile case because every police-involved shooting is a serious matter. Murder charges against an officer are rare. But there’s more to this case than the question of Van Dyke’s culpability: McDonald’s death laid bare a chronic failure of accountability within the Chicago Police Department that had eroded community trust.

CPD is also on trial. Not literally, but the alleged behavior of Van Dyke and other officers that night exposed the crisis of confidence in Chicago policing. Early accounts had McDonald lunging at officers, yet police dashboard cameras recorded him walking away from officers. For more than a year City Hall kept the recording from public viewing. The images of a white cop shooting an African-American teen 16 times, firing even as McDonald lay on the street, were so disturbing that the city agreed to a $5 million settlement before the McDonald family filed a lawsuit. Citing the shooting, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a Civil Rights Division investigation that excoriated CPD for a pattern of excessive force and an entrenched code of silence that shielded cops from accountability for wrongdoing.

City Hall and the mayor are on trial. Again not literally, but politically. Emanuel’s handling of the case and his management of CPD were set to become major issues in his re-election campaign, if he hadn’t decided two weeks ago against seeking a third term. In the aftermath of the shooting, Emanuel’s preference would have been to quarantine that night, to treat McDonald’s death as another isolated incident of alleged police misconduct. The video, when finally released, mooted that strategy. The case forced Emanuel and City Hall to accept Police Department reforms, including a new system of oversight, new training, new body cams for officers. This spirit of reform should get locked into a consent decree now under negotiation; it will give a federal judge a supervisory role. Van Dyke’s trial and those reforms will help determine Emanuel’s legacy.

The role of the judge. Judge Vincent Gaughan, presiding in the fifth-floor courtroom of the Leighton Criminal Court Building, is experienced, tough-minded and, incidentally, sometimes cantankerous with the media. News organizations challenged Gaughan in court over access to documents, but now the focus turns to his handling of an incendiary case and protecting Van Dyke’s right to a fair trial. If you want to witness his demanding approach, the trial is televised and livestreamed, while Tribune reporters are filing dispatches and live tweeting.

Chicagoans, too, are on trial. Prosecutors argue that Van Dyke used lethal force when it was not necessary; police could have arrested McDonald. Defense attorneys say the police officer feared for his life and took legal steps to end a violent confrontation. Interpretations of the video, the rights of an officer under Illinois law and other factors should lead jurors at the end of this case to render judgment. How will Chicagoans respond? The verdict won’t please everyone. It may bring joy and relief to some, disappointment or anger to others. We expect emotional responses and trust they’ll be peacefully expressed.

However this trial ends, the process of fixing the Chicago Police Department will continue. Chicago will be a better city for it.

September 17, 2018, Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, “Who’s on trial in Chicago”, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-trial-van-dyke-mcdonald-cpd-20180917-story.html

How Rahm Emanuel Blew It on Police Reform

Rahm Emanuel stands behind Eddie T. Johnson of the Chicago Police Department as he addresses the news media. Teresa Crawford/AP

The Chicago trial of police officer Jason Van Dyke for killing Laquan McDonald is imminent. But even a guilty verdict can’t salvage Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s legacy on police reform.

On September 6, just days after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he will not run for a third term, his office released a statement reporting that the city finalized its consent decree—the city’s agreement with the federal government to institute a sweeping compendium of court-enforced reforms in its embattled police department.That same day, Chicago news outlets reported that Emanuel had acquiesced to a provision requiring officers to radio in to a dispatcher every time they pointed a gun at somebody. Until this week, Emanuel was against that and other critical reforms that would make police activities more transparent to the public. He welcomed this last reform only after announcing that he wasn’t running for reelection.

While history will note Emanuel as the mayor at the dawn of a new era of police reform in Chicago, he will likely get none of the glory. Rather, he’ll be known as the leader whose decisions in one particularly egregious case of police brutality brought Chicagoans’ relationship with city law enforcement to a breaking point. That case is the killing of the African American teenager Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2015. Emanuel’s unforced errors in handling that case devastated Chicago families and blemished his mayoral legacy. He failed to take his own advice by letting the serious crisis of police misconduct go to waste. The question is whether there’s anything he can do now to change that.

The growing movement for police reform

Emanuel had the opportunity to do something truly transformative about Chicago police corruption—a well-documented problem that festered for decades before he became mayor, often under the protection of City Hall. The passionate and determined Black Lives Matter movement was seeded and sprouted during Emanuel’s first term (2011 to 2015). Fueled by numerous shocking accounts of police killings of African Americans around the U.S. that were going unpunished, the BLM network made accountability for police violence its flagship issue.

By the time of the 2015 deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and Sandra Bland in Texas—both of whom died under questionable circumstances while in police custody—the BLM cause was ascendant. And nowhere did a collision between BLM and the police seem more inevitable at that point than in Chicago, where evidence of decades of police corruption and brutality concerning black and Latino civilians was surfacing, and it was beyond refutation.

This was the political climate that greeted Emanuel as he started his second term as mayor in mid-2015, and he could have gotten in front of the policing issue before a clash happened. Instead, just months into that term, he antagonized both sides. At an October 2015 White House gathering of law enforcement officials, Emanuel said Chicago police officers had gone “fetal”—that they were shrinking back in their public safety duties because of social media-driven backlash to police brutality, or out of fear they’d get caught on live-streaming services doing something shady. In that one statement, he scapegoated police reform activists and infantilized the police force.

What made Emanuel’s “fetal” comment worse was that he made it while sitting on damning video footage that implicated Chicago police officer Van Dyke in the shooting of Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Emanuel withheld the clip from public viewing for more than a year after the killing, citing pending investigations, but the few officials who did see it worried that its contents could jolt the public into possible riots. The video did not depict police in passive mode; instead, the dashboard camera footage showed Van Dyke firing his weapon on McDonald as he walked away from the officers. The only person left in a fetal position from that police encounter was McDonald, who died from the shooting.

https://players.brightcove.net/3690581440001/S1vBkbMfe_default/index.html?videoId=5821529962001

The official narrative

Up until the release of the video, the official narrative was that Laquan McDonald lunged at Van Dyke with a knife. The city settled with McDonald’s family for $5 million just days after Emanuel was reelected in April of 2015. A clause in the agreement stipulated that they could not show the video to anyone until the investigation and any resulting trial or process was complete. It was only because of the relentless FOIA filings and lawsuits of journalist Brandon Smith that Emanuel was forced by courts to publicly air the footage. When the city finally released it, just before Thanksgiving that year, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. Until that point, he had been kept on the police payroll.

 

The argument that Van Dyke was an isolated “bad apple” cop on the force was undermined by data obtained by the Chicago-based media organization the Invisible Institute. Researchers there discovered through their own FOIA and lawsuit filings that tens of thousands of abuse complaints had been filed by Chicago residents since 2002, but the city only investigated a tiny percentage of them. An even smaller percentage of those complaints ended with disciplinary action. The Invisible Institute’s online Citizens Police Data Project maps where the city complaints were filed from, the kinds of complaints submitted, the officers named in those complaints, and how many complaints each officer received.

(Citizens Police Data Project/2015)

According to their findings, Van Dyke was the subject of 26 complaints of misconduct—20 involving excessive force. The first allegation against him, a personnel violation, happened not even a year after he joined the Chicago police force in 2001. It was information like this that Emanuel initially worked to keep cloaked from the public eye, just as he did with the McDonald footage, until courts made his administration come clean. University of Columbia law professor Bernard E. Harcourt flat-out called Emanuel’s handling of the McDonald case a “cover-up” in The New York Times.

“If you think about the sequence of events in the 13 months leading up to the release of the video, everything that happened was in support of that narrative,” said Jamie Kalven, executive director of the Invisible Institute. “Withholding the video, falsifying reports, officers commandeering and destroying a video [of the shooting] from Burger King [Ed. Note: the FBI disputes this], stonewalling the press endlessly and, ultimately, the $5 million settlement with the family of Laquan McDonald—all of that was in service of the official narrative and meant withholding information from the public. It’s what brought the Emanuel administration down essentially.”

Reform, on Emanuel’s terms

After the McDonald debacle, activists from Black Lives Matter and the Black Youth Project led protests around Chicago demanding that Emanuel’s resign. There were, in fact, many calls from both in and outside of Chicago, from activists and even elected officials for the mayor to step down. But Emanuel, who’s infamously hard-nosed, would not budge. Instead, he began taking other steps that would at least give the appearance that he was now serious about reforming the police.

He forced the resignation of the head of the police department, Garry McCarthy, in December of 2015, calling him a “distraction,” and declared that there was a culture of misconduct amongst the police force. Emanuel then assembled a task force to investigate that culture and to come up with recommendations for how to make the police department more accountable to the public. Around the same time, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it also would be investigating the Chicago police department for civil rights violations. Emanuel initially dismissed federal involvement as “misguided,” but later recanted and welcomed the Justice Department’s investigation after blowback from the public.That kind of reversal (also seen recently on the proposal to have police radio in when they aim their gun at people) could be considered the Emanuel doctrine on police reform: Reject measures that might reveal humiliating or incriminating information about the police, until publicly forced to accede. Which perhaps explains why by January 2016, just over half of Chicagoans surveyed by the Chicago Tribune said they weren’t confident that Emanuel could handle police problems. For African Americans and Latinos it was 61 percent.

Chicago’s police problem is also a race problem: The mayor’s task force finished its investigation in April of 2016, stating in its report that Chicago police “have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” According to the report, nearly three-quarters of those shot or killed by police officers between 2008 and 2015 were black, compared to 15 percent for Latinos and 8 percent for white victims. African Americans only comprise a third of Chicago’s population. Not only that, but in 2013, while Chicago police were far more likely to stop and search African Americans and Latinos than whites, police were far less likely to find drugs or weapons on people of color during those searches.

(Chicago Police Accountability Task Force)

The Justice Department’s investigative report, released in January 2017, found many of the same racial disparities, but also noted that it was the city’s own policies that allowed them to fester—notably by not taking citizen complaints about the police seriously. Federal investigators reported that the city had received over 30,000 complaints of police misconduct during the time Emanuel was mayor, but 98 percent of them resulted in no discipline for police officers. Reads the Justice Department’s report:

The City does not investigate the majority of cases it is required by law to investigate. … Some of these investigations are ignored based on procedural hurdles in City agreements with its unions, but some are unilateral decisions by the accountability agencies to reduce caseloads and manage resources. …Regardless of the reasons, this failure to fully investigate almost half of all police misconduct cases seriously undermines accountability. These are all lost opportunities to identify misconduct, training deficiencies, and problematic trends, and to hold officers and CPD accountable when misconduct occurs.

Once again, Emanuel initially tried to wiggle out of compliance: This time it was with the federal court-enforced consent decree process that typically follows U.S. Justice Department investigations. Emanuel attempted to secure a simpler reform deal with the Trump administration, but then agreed to the federal court oversight of the police months later, in yet another example of him being forced into consent.

“In the aftermath of the McDonald video the city was in a state of crisis, and there was a real opportunity for him to be a transcendent leader, but he never took advantage of the moment,” said Lori Lightfoot, the chair of Emanuel’s police accountability task force, who is currently running for mayor. “But Emanuel never truly understood the nuances of local policing. He’s looked at them through a purely political and transactional lens and hasn’t stepped back to understand that public safety is a sacred trust.”

“This standard of intent is untenable”

While the city wraps up its consent decree work, Lightfoot is concerned that the language isn’t strong enough on some of the more physical ways that police have been known to interact with civilians. Black Lives Matter shares these concerns, saying in a public statement that it “falls far short of what’s required in order to end the reign of lawlessness and brutality that we’ve endured under this Police Department.”

Lightfoot notes that the consent decree addresses foot pursuits—when and how police may run after suspects—by saying that the independent monitor should wait until 2021, after enough data is collected, to decide whether to adopt a formal policy on that.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department report flagged the Chicago police department’s foot chase record as “reckless” and asked why it had a policy for vehicle pursuits, but not for foot pursuits. The DOJ report lists several instances of Chicago police officers chasing people “without a basis for believing the person had committed a serious crime,” and then injuring or shooting unarmed suspects while in pursuit. DOJ’s recommendation on this:

Develop, train and implement a foot pursuit policy that makes clear that foot pursuits are dangerous and that sets forth guidelines for foot pursuits that balance the objective of apprehending the suspect with the risk of potential injury to the officer, the public, and the suspect. The policy also should address unsafe foot pursuit tactics to ensure the risks of foot pursuits are not increased;

Lightfoot also is worried that the consent decree only prohibits police from putting suspects in chokeholds “if there is an intent to reduce the intake of air or put pressure on a person’s airway.” (This suggests a question: What other function is there for choking someone?)

“This standard of intent is untenable,” said Lightfoot. “Under this policy, an officer would simply deny an intention to cause harm after using a chokehold. The Chicago police department must be prohibited from using chokeholds, full stop.”

“Proactive, affirmative transparency”

The evidence of Chicago police violence against civilians, and minorities in particular, keeps expanding. The Invisible Institute recently updated andrelaunched its Citizens Police Data Project website with more comprehensive data on police complaints now dating back to 1967. Among their latest findings: Racial disparities in police use of force have increased over the last decade, even though Chicago’s black population has decreased. In fact, they found that of the five police districts with the highest rates of excessive force against African Americans, four of them are in predominantly white districts.

For Invisible Institute’s executive director Kalven, one of the best things he believes the Emanuel administration can do to improve police-community relations is to make all police misconduct files instantly available to the public. It took a 2014 court ruling, from Kalven’s lawsuit against the city, for these files to be formally declared public information. And yet civilians still have to go through the FOIA process to access it. The city could put all of these files on its website tomorrow. That’s another major reform missing from the consent decree, but Kalven is still pushing the city to do this.

“Just put all of the disciplinary information out there so that we as citizens can monitor the [consent decree] process and really be meaningfully engaged,” said Kalven. “That would be such an expression of good faith, to institute that kind of proactive, affirmative transparency.”What’s also stopping that from happening is the police union, which has been fighting to block transparency. In fact, the union took the city to court for the right to destroy police misconduct files older than five years. The union lost, but it jammed up the process to make those files public for nearly two years. If there has been a positive spot in Emanuel’s police reform agenda it’s his willingness to stand up to the union. The mayor, in fact, worked “shoulder-to-shoulder” with police reform activists, said Kalven, in court against the union’s request to destroy older police misconduct files.

Meanwhile, current police union president Kevin Graham told CityLab that he and Emanuel have not spoken since Graham became the leader of the local Fraternal Order of Police union chapter last year. Its prior president, Dean Angelo, did engage with Emanuel after the McDonald killing and for the Justice Department probe. Which may be why the union members voted him out. Graham, his successor, is reported to take a far harder line on police reforms than Angelo did.

“The only way this city will move forward is if we elect someone who takes seriously the rule of law,” said Graham. “Unfortunately, here in Chicago, we have bowed to various groups who say that all of the problems are with the police.”

Graham singled out the ACLU as one of those groups. “The ACLU is not a friend of the people of Chicago, because they have caused the increase in crime, in part,” he said. Although he did not mention them by name, Black Lives Matter and Black Youth Project 100 have also been instrumental in pressuring Emanuel to adopt certain police reforms, and some of their leaders were included in the consent decree process. They also successfully mobilized voters to remove former Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez from her office in 2016, for taking more than a year to charge police officer Van Dyke after he killed McDonald.<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Note to all other candidates in the running to become chicago’s Next mayor: it will not be easier for you, we still have an agenda that is pro-community/public schools/quality jobs and anti-divestment/policing/corruption. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ByeRahm?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ByeRahm</a></p>&mdash; Charlene Carruthers (@CharleneCac) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CharleneCac/status/1037027213466644480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 4, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Van Dyke’s court trial began this week, and it could expose other ways that the Emanuel administration hushed the facts and initially protected McDonald from criminal punishment. With Emanuel no longer facing reelection, Kalven said he can use this as an opportunity to take a much bolder stance on police reform, regardless of the outcome of the Van Dyke trial.

“There are few incidents of police violence that we know as much about as we do the Laquan McDonald killing, and the subsequent institutional response,” said Kalven. “And yet the core narrative is still unstable. The trial is a critical part of that landscape, but it would be a mistake to read a guilty verdict as a demonstration that we are somehow healed as a society, or that we’ve addressed the underlying problems.”

Brentin Mock, , citylab.com, “How Rahm Emanuel Blew It on Police Reform”, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/09/how-rahm-emanuel-blew-it-on-police-reform/569323/