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In 2007, the city of Chicago created an "independent" review board to monitor fatal shootings by police. Those quotation marks are around independent because the boards are often stacked with retired police officers who are often anything but independent in their views of their comrades. Of the 400 cases they reviewed, only one shooting of the 400 was found to be unjustified.
Lorenzo Davis was the supervising investigator for the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), and the facts in many of the cases just weren't adding up to him. He had been a Chicago police officer for 23 years and served as a commander, the head of a detective unit, then the head of an entire district, and eventually oversaw the entire public housing unit until he retired and joined the review board.
Soon, Davis determined that six shootings were unjustified. That may not seem like a lot, but it's a 600 percent increase from the one shooting that was deemed unjustified in the previous eight years. His supervisors demanded that he reverse the rulings. He refused, and on July 9, 2015, he was fired. The city of Chicago doesn't even deny that this is why they fired him. Here's the official statement:
Davis's termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis's job performance, accused him of "a clear bias against the police" and called him "the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS," as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.
Mind you, the man they are saying has a clear bias against the police is a decorated officer from the department with nothing but glowing reviews.
Below is an interview he did with WBEZ.
On Sept. 23, 2015, we learned something equally disturbing. George Roberts, a 51-year-old supervising investigator with the IPRA, was falsely arrested by Chicago police and has provided damning evidence that police officers beat him senseless after deliberately turning off the dash cams inside of their vehicles.
Roberts says in the lawsuit that he was headed home when officers stopped him "for a minor traffic violation," and officers with guns drawn had him get out of his SUV. He said he was pushed in the back and fell to the ground, injuring his legs and knees, and one of the officers shouted "Don't make me (expletive) shoot you!"
When the officers searched Roberts, they found his wallet, with his IPRA identification in it, and one of the officers "ran back to his vehicle and turned off his vehicle's video recording equipment," according to the lawsuit.
"When the (officers) turned off the dash camera, things got worse" for Roberts, according to the lawsuit.
It gets even worse
. Roberts was:
beaten so badly that he lost control of his bowels. Police also mocked Roberts, a black man, with Eric Garner's dying words, saying, "What are you going to tell me next? You can't breathe?" Roberts says that moments after police saw his IPRA identification badge, officer Brandon Ellison "ran back to his vehicle" and killed the dash cam recording the incident. Police only admitted the existence of the dash cam video after Roberts' attorney discovered it. According to Roberts' court complaint, "Up to that point, the video recording device had been properly functioning with date and time stamps clearly visible."
After all of this, Roberts was suspended from his role as an investigator in the police department - only to be reinstated after the DUI charge was dropped.
Are you following this? The two lead investigators of police misconduct in Chicago, both black men, have been systematically targeted in an attempt to prevent them from their doing job.
We are now starting to see evidence that the targeting is actually paying off.
A powerful new report, yet again from WBEZ in Chicago, has revealed a disturbing attack on an innocent woman. The IPRA treated the officers involved in the attack far too kindly and an entire community is outraged.
Video of a police raid on a tanning salon in 2013 shows Chicago Police officers engaging in potentially criminal activity. Some of that activity was reviewed by the Independent Police Review Authority, but other potential crimes by cops were ignored by the agency tasked with rooting out police misconduct in Chicago. It raises serious questions about IPRA and its commitment to police accountability, questions that IPRA has refused to answer.
The video comes from the surveillance system in the lobby of the Copper Tan Salon in Chicago. The camera is behind the counter near the ceiling so you see the top of the counter and some of the stuff behind the counter as well as the back of the employee working the desk. The lobby looks like any other waiting room, with a loveseat and chair by a glass-top coffee table. Soft rock plays.
The video is below. The police don't enter until 9:57. When they do, it gets ugly, but officers soon realize they are on camera.
While officers restrain Klyzek, another cop walks behind the front desk and he notices a computer screen below the counter. He looks at it and realizes there's a video camera.
He points two fingers at his own eyes and calls out to everyone quote, "Hey! Hey! There's eyes!"
Det. Gerald Di Pasquale may not have heard that announcement because a couple minutes later he totally loses his cool with Klyzek, who is still yelling.
Di Pasquale starts yelling back at her, saying,"you're not f**ing American. I'll put you in a UPS box and send you back to wherever the f* you came from." He then says he's going to shut down the salon, "and then whoever owns this place will f*** kill you because they don't care about you, okay? I'll make one call and I'll take this building and you'll be dead and your family will be dead."
What follows in the verbal assault from Detective Pasquale is a highly criminal conversation, all caught on camera, in which police detail how they can cover the entire thing up. In the recording officers are overheard saying how they can take the computer, seize the hard drive, how they can maneuver around policies and laws, and how they likely need to do it because of what's been caught.
In spite of all of that evidence, no one was fired. Instead, the IPRA suspended just a few of the officers involved for a couple of days. This, though, is their M.O.
We're talking about a city that was forced to create a reparations fund to compensate people its officers have tortured over the years.
On October 20, 2014, something so egregious, so awful, so unjust took place on the streets of Chicago that the city, already in a deep deficit, is paying a family $5 million so that evidence of this wrongdoing won't see the light of day. On that night, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, surrounded by officers who were waiting for a Taser, was shot 16 times.
It was filmed on a dash cam, but for the past six months the city of Chicago has done everything in its power to keep that video private. Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, the family attorney, Michael Robbins, said:
"I certainly expect that the officer will be indicted, and not just the officer, but any officer, supervisor or lieutenant who took part in covering this up and justifying what cannot be justified. This was an execution of a young man that should have been - and could have been - avoided."
After the shooting, a spokesman for the police stated that McDonald lunged at the officers and caused them to fear for their lives.
But his family and everyone who has seen the video
insists McDonald was doing quite the opposite, and was slowly walking away when one single officer hit him with 16 different shots all over his body. If the video showed a brave officer in imminent danger, it's highly unlikely a grieving family would be about to receive one of the largest settlements in the history of Chicago.
The FBI is now investigating the case as well.
Here's the thing: The family deserves a settlement. However, they don't own that dash cam video - it belongs to the public and should be released in the interest of public safety. These videos cannot and should not be used as some form of a bargaining chip with victims and their families. They are public property, filmed with equipment funded by taxpayers.
This case is not some outlier, though.
With 49 elementary schools closing this summer, with pensions being slashed, and with public services being cut all over Chicago, the city now admits it has paid out over $521 million in settlements and legal fees due to police violence, misconduct, and abuse over the past 10 years alone - with a whopping 500 cases still pending.
What's more, criminal justice experts say new lawsuits will surely keep filling the pipeline until the city addresses a so-called "code of silence" - where officers refuse to tell on each other for misbehavior - and a flawed disciplinary system that together allow misconduct to prosper.
In all, the Better Government Association (BGA) found a total of $521.3 million has been spent to handle police misconduct-related lawsuits from 2004 to September 2015.
The true cost, though, is even higher, s the BGA counted settlements and judgments, legal bills and other fees - but not less tangible expenses related to, say, insurance premiums, in-house lawyers and investigators, and the cost of incarcerating innocents.
In the government-sponsored study to track the outrageous costs of police brutality in Chicago, the following examples of what could have and should have been done in the city with half a billion dollars were given:
Could build five high schools like the state-of-the-art building the city recently developed in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The 212,000-square-foot school has space for 1,200 students and includes five computer labs, six science labs, a gymnasium and an indoor swimming pool.
Could pay for the repaving of 500 miles of arterial streets, based on a city spokesman's estimate of it costing $1 million per road mile.
Could cover the cost of building 33 libraries like the one scheduled to open this summer in the Albany Park neighborhood. The 16,300-square-foot building includes a landscaped reading garden and 38 public computer terminals.
Yet, instead of any of those wonderful things, the Chicago Police Department and the city's broken criminal justice system leave an ugly trail of ruined lives and paid settlements instead.
All of that brings us to the two officers featured at the top of the story.
The Chicago Police Department fought to keep this horrendous photo private. Taken some time between 1999 and 2003, it shows officers Jerome Finnigan and Timothy McDermott posing with a black man as if he were a dead deer.
Officer Jerome Finnigan
Officer Jerome Finnigan, pictured on the left, is in prison for ordering a hit on another officer. Known as one of the most corrupt officers in the history of the Chicago Police Department, details of his crimes - committed while part of the department's secretive Special Operations Section (SOS) - continue to emerge to this day.
In his plea agreement, Finnigan stipulated that he unlawfully stopped and detained persons, conducted illegal searches, and arrested individuals based on false evidence.
SOS gained notoriety in 2006, when Finnigan and others were indicted for breaking into homes without warrants, and stealing money from and even kidnapping suspects. SOS was disbanded in 2007.
Another officer, Keith Herrera, is awaiting sentencing. Two other officers were federally convicted, and seven more officers were convicted of lesser state charges.
The most egregious theft listed in the article was when Finnigan and two partners stole $450,000. The group, according to the article, stopped a driver of a pickup truck and handcuffed and frisked him. Then, with guns drawn, they searched his house, finding a leather bag filled with bricks of cash. Finnigan split the money with the two officers.
The City of Chicago seems to want Finnigan, currently housed in a Florida prison, to keep quiet because he continues to implicate other officers who have never been held responsible for the roles they played in widespread corruption of the worst kind.
Finnigan, who pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2011, told Levin the group's stealing from suspects was more widespread than what the public knows. He told Playboy he knows of 19 officers who stole cash and personal possessions during SOS searches.
The federal complaint
against Finnigan is mind-blowing. He openly discussed the different gang members and hitmen he would use to execute another officer who was giving him trouble. So prolific was Finnegan's corruption that he and the three officers he supervised
accumulated over 200 internal affairs complaints
. Two hundred? How the hell is that even possible without action being taken?
Nine years before Finnigan ever spent a day in prison, he and other officers, according to a civil suit, broke into the home of a man who turned out to be a Chicago firefighter and tortured him in front of his wife and kids. When the firefighter reported it, look at what happened:
The following day the plaintiff called the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") to report the incident. The next day, May 30, 2002, an investigator from the CPD came to plaintiff's home to discuss his complaint. The investigator told plaintiff that plaintiff was a drug dealer and that his complaint was "bogus."
A day or two later, the investigator returned to plaintiff's house and told him that if he pursued his complaint the police would cause him to lose his job. Plaintiff told the investigator that he would not pursue the case so long as the police did not arrest him, plant drugs on him, or have him fired. As the investigator left plaintiff's home, he told plaintiff, "just forget about this; otherwise kiss your job goodbye, and you're fucked."
Officer Timothy McDermott
Officer Timothy McDermott, pictured on the right, escaped consequences for this offensive photo for more than a decade, and faced no punishment for a long trail of corruption during his time with the SOS and as a detective for the CPD.
In an attempt to explain why he would take such a photo, McDermott's answer is as preposterous as it gets: He blamed his young age. But he was at the time a fully grown man, serving in a special unit of the CPD when the photo was taken.
"I am embarrassed by my participation in this photograph," he said. "I made a mistake as a young, impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in."
Strange, isn't it? How a grown man claims youth as a legitimate excuse for such racist ugliness, but young black men half his age are treated as full-fledged adults by officers every day.
McDermott has been defended by the powers-that-be at every turn. Even at a hearing over this photo, a former top cop defended him:
Phil Cline, the former police superintendent, spoke on behalf of McDermott, who had earned 74 department awards during his career. He called McDermott a "very hard-working policeman, the type of policeman I wanted working for us and his character was impeccable."
Except, his character wasn't impeccable. Not at all.
McDermott served in the same corrupt private squad, the SOS, with Finnigan for four years. During that time, he was named in four different lawsuits.
The report against McDermott shows the great lengths so many people went to in order to protect him.
In this lawsuit, Terrance Thompson, who had his sentence vacated after all the officers who arrested him were convicted for corruption, names McDermott as one of the officers who planted a gun on him and illegally detained him. As a consequence of a lawsuit, Thompson was eventually awarded $400,000 for the three years he spent in prison.
On August 21, 2002, officers from the Chicago Police Department's Special Operations Section (SOS), including Timothy McDermott, arrested 46-year-old Gloria Salcedo and her daughters, 21-year-old Claudia Salcedo and 17-year-old Teresa Salcedo on charges of battery of a police officer.
Gloria Salcedo filed a lawsuit against Officer McDermott
and others and was exonerated after it was determined that the officers lied.
She is now listed in the National Registry of Exonerations.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times:
McDermott is the stepson of former Chicago Police Deputy Supt. Thomas Byrne, who also spoke glowingly of him during the police board hearing. Byrne was a powerful figure within former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration and later went on to run the Department of Streets and Sanitation for Daley.
Court records show McDermott was a defendant in four federal lawsuits accusing him and other officers of misconduct while he was assigned to the Special Operations Section and later, when he was a detective.
The city paid settlements in three of the cases and a jury awarded damages in a fourth case - with a total payout of $162,000. The city also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the plaintiffs' attorneys, records show.
But the lawsuits did not come up at McDermott's police board hearing.
While this photo is egregious, what's worse is that the Chicago Police Department has gone to great lengths to keep it and both officers in it out of the limelight.
Some people are now calling Chicago the "false confession capital of America." Here's why. You have to watch the video for it to all make sense, so please watch it.
If you are down here, let's assume you watched the video. What the Chicago Police Department and Cook County prosecutors did to those young men is an American travesty. Just kids, they were ripped from their homes, forced into false confessions for rapes and murders they didn't commit, and then sent off to prison to die.
Two decades later, DNA not only proved them to be completely innocent, but directly implicated other fully grown career criminals who actually raped and murdered people but never paid the price for it.
In spite of overwhelming DNA evidence, in spite of a dozen attorneys from The Innocence Project who took these cases on pro bono, in spite of judges setting these men free and giving them certificates of innocence, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez absolutely refused to let go of them being guilty. She refused to accept that officers forced confessions. She even went so far as to say that even though no DNA from any of the six kids who were sent to prison was ever found on or even near any victims, the DNA that was found inside of the victims could've gotten there after they died. She literally suggested that career rapists randomly found dead bodies in fields and had sex with them, but she was completely unwilling to implicate any officers or imply that those who were jailed were done wrong.
In what many people across the country thought was an open-and-shut case of a police officer clearly murdering a completely innocent, unarmed person, Anita Alvarez was the lead prosecutor against Officer Dante Servin in the shooting death of Rekia Boyd.
On March 21, 2012, Rekia Boyd and three of her friends were walking to a store together. Dante Servin, an off-duty police officer, was nearby in his car, and claimed that they were too loud and that he told the group to be quiet. The officer, still in the car, then fired five shots over his shoulder and struck Rekia Boyd in the head and her boyfriend, Antonio Cross, in the hand.
Officer Servin used the virtually unbeatable claim that he feared for his life because he saw Antonio Cross reach into his waistband and pull out a gun. Except Antonio Cross didn't have a gun. Nobody there had a gun except for Officer Dante Servin. Nobody reached in a waistband and pulled out a gun. The entire defense was completely imagined.
All of the people who witnessed the shooting testified to these facts, but Judge Dennis Porter shocked the country and dismissed all charges against Dante Servin. In his ruling, Judge Porter
blasted prosecutor Alvarez for undercharging Officer Servin
Judge Dennis Porter ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that Dante Servin acted recklessly, saying that Illinois courts have consistently held that anytime an individual points a gun at an intended victim and shoots, it is an intentional act, not a reckless one. He all but said prosecutors should have charged Servin with murder, not involuntary manslaughter.
Servin cannot be retried on a murder charge because of double-jeopardy protections, according to his attorney, Darren O'Brien.
Are you following what Judge Porter said?
Rekia Boyd was shot in the head and killed by Officer Servin three years ago. Judge Porter said that it is widely known that if someone intentionally points and shoots a gun, it's not reckless, but intentional, yet somehow this was lost on the prosecutor? She had three whole years to get this charge right.
Are we to believe that Anita Alvarez was unaware of this legal interpretation? She's a lifelong prosecutor! She knew. It's pretty clear that she deliberately undercharged Servin in this case. A police officer has not been charged in a shooting death in Chicago in over two decades, and any prosecutor who becomes the first attorney to convict one would've never remained in power.
If Anita Alvarez lacked the moral courage to speak honestly about six young men who had their lives ruined by her office, it's hard to put anything past her.
In other words, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez undercharged Dante Servin with a lesser crime that could not be proven, whereas evidence and multiple eyewitnesses could show first or second degree murder.
Boyd's family consistently asked Alvarez for more serious charges. Her brother, Martinez Sutton, stated:
"We asked for first-degree charges. We asked for second-degree charges and they said no. So we went with what they thought was best."
Attorney Sam Adam, Jr. came out and stated that he believed Anita Alvarez
deliberately tanked the case
"To charge that as reckless conduct and not first-degree murder - either you're doing it because you want to curry favor with the police department or you're completely inept," Adam said. "I think there's no question it was deliberate. She wants to curry favor with the FOP. It took a $4.5 million settlement to get charges in this case. She was stuck in a hard place. If you charge first-degree murder, the FOP is mad at her. If you don't charge anything, the community is upset. So you play the odds. That says you're thinking about your job, not about what's right."
Another Chicago attorney, Bruce Mosbacher,
said the same thing
"The State's Attorney of Cook County did something very unusual, which is to charge an individual who shot a gun into a crowd with something less than first-degree murder. I haven't seen that happen," he said. "That's very disturbing here, and it should be disturbing, and I can't say that they were giving this officer a break, but it certainly looks like it."
Now, we have proof that State's Attorney Anita Alvarez knew full well what she was doing when she undercharged Officer Dante Servin.
On January 23rd, 2010, Miguel Adorno fired his gun under his arm, much like Dante Servin claimed to, at a party in Chicago. A bullet hit Shannon Fanning in the arm. Nobody died, but Miguel Adorno was charged and convicted with attempted murder and given a mandatory 15-year prison sentence.
On June 14th, 2013, Miguel Adorno appealed this decision, stating that he was overcharged and over-sentenced for something that was purely reckless. When you see what the state argued (full document embedded below), it'll blow your mind.
According to defendant's testimony, the people chasing him were right on his heels, therefore defendant knew he was firing the weapon in their direction when he reached into the trunk and fired the gun under his arm without looking.
Illinois courts have clearly and consistently held that when a defendant points a firearm in the direction of an intended victim and fires the weapon, he has not acted recklessly. People v. Sipp, 378 Ill. App. 3d 157, 166 (2007). Because defendant knowingly fired his gun in the direction of the crowd, a reckless conduct instruction was not appropriate. We do not find the court abused its discretion in refusing to instruct the jury on reckless conduct. [...]
The evidence elicited in this case shows that defendant knew the victim and others were present in the general vicinity of the apartment building, and defendant fired his weapon multiple times in their direction. [...]
Furthermore, specific intent to take a human life is a material element of the offense of attempted murder, but the very fact of firing a gun at a person supports the conclusion that the person doing so acted with the intent to kill.
In other words, the state argued that it would be wrong to charge Miguel Adorno with anything less than murder since he knowingly fired his gun into a crowd. His appeal was denied and he is in prison to this very day serving 15 years for shooting someone in the arm.
Yet State's Attorney Anita Alvarez willfully charged Miguel Adorno with attempted murder and cited case after case in his appeal, explaining why shooting his gun into a crowd required a felony murder charge. Then she contradicted her very own legal precedent by charging Officer Dante Servin with recklessness in a case in which he not only shot someone in the arm, but also shot Rekia Boyd in the head and killed her.
Are you following?
Anita Alvarez not only knew it was wrong to charge Officer Servin with the lesser crime of recklessness, but she has a documented history of making the case that shooting into a crowd requires one to be charged with murder.
See the full case below.
Police, prosecutors, investigators, and the politicians who support them are all guilty in creating a system in Chicago that devalues life, peace, and integrity. This much is clear. What's wild is that in all of the public talk about what's truly wrong with Chicago, the entire burden is often placed on the 'hood, like it exists in some type of cultural vacuum apart from the city.
No. Inner - city Chicago is simply a reflection of the good, bad, and ugly of the city itself.