COVID-19 Update: We Are Open 24/7 to Service Current and New Clients.

Articles Tagged with police misconduct

In a final push to revisit cases in which former Chicago police officer Ronald Watts was involved, the State Attorney’s office reversed course and agreed to vacate 44 convictions. Almost every case that was tied to the former officer has been reviewed. Many convictions have been vacated on appeal after allegations that torture and coercion led to convictions. Watts was also implicated in planting evidence.

Initially, prosecutors appeared ready to defend these cases due to the fact that other officers who were not involved with Watts also contributed to the conviction. However, the DA reversed course and decided to vacate the convictions on the basis that even his cursory involvement was enough to taint the case. A total of 100 convictions have been vacated against 88 defendants as part of an exoneration review of Watts’ cases. Three convictions not associated with exoneration efforts have also been vacated. According to the State Attorney’s office, 212 convictions have been vacated due to Watts’ criminal police work. Only a handful of convictions now remain before the court. 

The officers, many of whom remain on the force, were accused of running a protection racket from a South Side public housing complex. They forced drug dealers to pay a “tax” and pinned bogus charges on anyone who did not. 

The community of Grand Rapids Michigan is reeling after an officer-involved shooting shows that a suspect was shot in the back of the head while resisting during a routine traffic stop. The events of this shooting are clear as day, but it remains unclear if any officer will be charged with a crime. This comes after police officers involved in the George Floyd murder rejected pleas offered by state prosecutors.

Bodycam footage shows that the officer pulled over a vehicle for having a license plate that did not match the vehicle. The officer pulls over the vehicle and the suspect immediately gets out of the car. The suspect does not have a weapon, looks confused, and tells the officer he has a license, but does not produce one. Later, the suspect can be seen walking away from the officer and then running. The officer pursues, tackles the suspect, and a struggle ensues. The officer draws his taser, the suspect intercepts it with his hands and diverts it. A struggle ensues. The officer is on top of the suspect when he discharges his weapon into the back of the suspect’s head. The suspect dies immediately. An autopsy confirms that the cause of death is a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Police reform advocates are saying this is another example of ineffective policing leading to tragedy. Pro-police advocates say that the suspect was still reaching for the officer’s taser when he fired the weapon.

Two officers approach a suspect who opens fire on them. They return fire and strike the suspect. The suspect has now been shot. The police have him in cuffs and are searching him to determine where the gun is. The officer is patting him down. Another officer is standing near him. The officer who is doing the patdown hits his head on the other officer. Thinking it was the suspect who tried to strike him, he punches the man in the groin several times. 

Bodycam footage does not show the suspect threatening the officer at the time of the arrest. The officer was relieved of duty and then charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. However, a grand jury declined to file charges against the officer and so, the case has been dismissed.

Understanding the Problem

Authorities allege that a Dixmoor police officer manipulated a police lineup in order to establish charges against a man who was later cleared of wrongdoing. The officer is now facing three felony counts of official misconduct. According to a witness, the officer suggested the correct answer to a witness in the lineup. The suspect was placed into lockup for 18 days. After his release, he pressed charges against the officer. 

According to his attorney, the man went into a store to buy a phone and was suddenly facing a 45-year sentence. Prior, an armed robbery had occurred at the store. An employee thought the man resembled the armed robber. The employee called the police. 

The officer who is now facing charges is accused of telling the witness which individual to pick from the lineup. The employee did as asked and the man was charged with armed robbery, a Class-X felony, the highest you can receive in Illinois. 

Under the law, police officers face the same consequences for committing crimes that the general public does. The issue that comes into play is the fact that police officers have more ability to manipulate the law to their advantage than the general public does. When they commit crimes, they understand how an investigation will unfold, they can cover their tracks, and they have the support of their brothers in blue to back them up.

Recently, an off-duty Chicago police officer was charged with discharging her weapon at Sam’s Club when a team of thieves attempted to swipe her SUV. She was in the parking lot with her husband when the theft occurred. The officer opened fire on the thieves and has since been charged with a crime: Reckless discharge of a weapon. Did she really commit a crime?

Analyzing the Charges

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

Contact Information