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Articles Tagged with police misconduct

The third Chicago police officer accused of excessive force over the past week has now been charged with a crime related to his conduct against a teenager. Authorities are accusing the officer of intentionally using his flashlight in an inappropriate manner and jamming it between the teen’s buttocks while he was making an arrest. 

The officer, who is a lieutenant on the force, has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct, both of which are felonies. According to investigators, the teen was handcuffed at the time that he was sexually assaulted. After the incident, the officer told him, “That’s what you get for carjacking.” 

The entire incident was caught on a bodycam. The teenager was fully clothed at the time of the incident, but it has raised enough red flags that the lieutenant has surrendered his badge and will now have to defend himself in criminal court. Unfortunately, there is no possible reason that you can give that would make it okay to sexually assault a teenager. 

Last year, the attorney general of the Joliet Police Department launched an investigation to determine whether or not there was an ongoing pattern of abuses within the department. The investigation is set to determine whether or not there has been a pattern of unconstitutional policing in Joliet. 

The investigation came after a man died while in police custody. Video footage, which surfaced five months after the initial incident, shows police attempting to communicate with a handcuffed suspect. At one point, they can be seen pinching his nose and striking him while his hands were cuffed behind his back. The suspect appears unresponsive. He died at the hospital later that evening. The official cause of death was ruled a fentanyl overdose. 

The investigation is civil in nature, not criminal. It could result in the reorganization of the department. None of the officers connected to the death were criminally charged. The investigation is focused on systemic problems and not individuals, according to the attorney general. The investigation was part of a joint effort by the city council and the mayor to open up an investigation into the department.

A Des Plaines police officer who accidentally shot a teenager while pursuing a bank robber will not face charges for the incident, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recently announced. The investigation led to the conclusion that the officer was justified in using deadly force against the bank robber. Unfortunately, it was not the bank robber he shot. The investigation concluded that the officer acted reasonably.

The Decision

The decision not to pursue charges against the officer was based on a legal concept known as mens rea or “guilty mind.” Figuratively, it refers to evil intent and is a requirement for many types of crimes. Two crimes that certainly require mens rea to be established for a conviction are first- and second-degree murder. The decision not to charge the officer boiled down to whether or not the decision to fire the weapon at the bank robber was justified. The investigation concluded that it was reasonable to discharge the weapon in that situation.

If you remember the hit television show The Shield, it followed the efforts of Vic Mackey and his “strike team” which was used exclusively for highly dangerous raids and anti-gang and drug efforts. Mackey ran the streets like a crime lord, however, making deals with some gangs while squeezing out others. In the process, he broke just about every law on the books, killed several people, and eventually admitted to everything in a plea bargain.

Real-life Victor Mackeys do exist and one of them, Sgt. Ronald Watts operated right here in Chicago. Watts is alleged to have extorted drug dealers, stolen drug cash, and coerced confessions from suspects using torture tactics. In 2012, Watts and another officer were convicted of federal theft of public services and extortion in a housing project. 

Since Watts has been in prison, the States Attorney’s office has agreed to the exonerations of 87 criminal defendants who were facing time on Watts-related allegations. Nonetheless, there are hundreds more who claim that they were convicted on coerced confessions, planted evidence, and more.

Two Chicago police officers are under investigation after allegedly beating a teenaged boy whom they had arrested in the past. Two others face allegations that they failed to intervene or stop the unjustified use of force. The incident is being investigated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Police say that they only went after the boy after he had struck their vehicle with a stolen vehicle in his possession and pointed a gun at the officers. 

One of the officers is alleged to have struck the teenager in the face and head, while another is alleged to have pressed his face into the ground and into a wire fence. The other officer is accused of punching the teenager without justification. A third officer is accused of failing to intervene and a fourth is accused of turning off his body camera. The police are also accused of conducting an improper vehicle pursuit, among other procedural issues. None of the officers have been charged with disciplinary violations.

Analyzing the Situation

A CPD officer is facing misconduct charges 16 years after an alleged incident occurred. Attorneys for the officer say that he should not be fired from the force because it took the city so long to open an investigation. The city moved to fire officer Thomas Sherry after his involvement with the Special Operations Section. The unit was disbanded after charges that they committed home invasions and executed robberies. The unit became a template for hit TV shows such as The Shield. The officers allegedly used armed violence to rob drug dealers or those who they believed were involved in drug trafficking. 

Much of the issue surrounding this particular investigation is the fact that Sherry was left uncharged for 16 years. Attorneys for Sherry say that too much time has passed between the incident and the charging to make a valid case. They are not wrong. In 2017, the U.S. Justice Department criticized Chicago PD for delaying disciplinary actions against police officers. 

Timeline

For those of you who have not followed the story, Adam Toledo was a 13-year-old person of color who was shot dead by police officer Eric Stillman. Police received a call of weapons fire and they responded. Toledo and an older boy were allegedly firing into vehicles with loaded weapons. The cops responded, they caught up with Toledo on foot. The police officer was running with his weapon drawn when Toledo dumped his weapon and turned around with his hands up. The officer, not knowing whether or not Toledo was turning to shoot or to surrender, fired on the spot, killing Toledo. Should the officer be held accountable for this crime?

Where do We Lay the Blame?

Already, lines are beginning to form. On the one side, you have people blaming the police officer for using cowboy tactics to contain the situation. Others blame the 13-year-old, his parents, or the older boy who was with him at the time, Ruben Roman, who put the gun in his hands. Roman will face charges for putting the gun into the hands of the 13-year-old. But police-reform advocates believe that police are scapegoating Roman for their own mistake. Could it be that they are actually all right?

The latest in police violence occurred just outside of Chicago when a white officer shot a Black security guard outside of a bar. Prosecutors announced that there would be no charges filed against officer Ian Covey. The Cook County state attorney’s office said that the “totality of evidence” was “not enough” to press criminal charges against the officer. 

In apparent anticipation of the potential backlash, State Attorney Kim Foxx told the press that they had interviewed over 100 witnesses and this evidence was examined by her office and the public integrity task force that helps take down bad cops. 

What Happened?

A woman who was dragged by the hair out of her car during an arrest will not face misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct. The woman Mia Wright claims that officers dragged her out of her car by her hair near the Brickyard Mall and then knelt on her neck for a period of time. City officials refused to explain why they dropped the charges against the woman. 

An attorney for Mia Wright said that anyone who looked at the video would see that the police officers’ reaction was baseless and unnecessary. 

The Video

A day after one of the officers wrote an unhinged email expressing his contempt for anyone who might take issue with the fact that an innocent woman who worked saving lives and had no criminal record was senselessly murdered as she slept in her apartment, a grand jury is recommending charges against Brett Hankinson, the only officer who was relieved of duty.

Hankinson was scape-goated for wantonly firing rounds into Breonna Taylor’s residence, but it is not apparent that he did anything differently from the other officers. Neither does the grand jury’s recommendation address how easily police were able to get a warrant against Taylor without any material evidence of wrongdoing. Louisville has made “no-knock” warrants illegal even as police say they announced themselves prior to entry. Police believed Taylor was guilty of drug trafficking due to an association with an ex-boyfriend.

The City of Louisville announced they would be settling the Taylor family’s wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $12 million.

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