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Articles Tagged with police misconduct

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.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has filed a complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board after several officers were allegedly unfairly suspended during investigations. Across the U.S., police departments have been taking complaints about officers more seriously since the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests that gripped the nation.

Sidelined officers include notable ones such as the officer who punched activist Miracle Boyd in the face after a confrontation in front of the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park. Others include police officers accused of dragging a woman out of her car by her hair and then kneeling on her neck, and another officer caught on film giving someone the finger. 

The FOP insists that none of those officers should have either been fired or suspended until the investigations were complete. They have filed an unfair labor practices complaint over the handling of police misconduct investigations. 

matt-popovich-60437-copy-300x162Video footage showed a 6’6” officer pushing and punching a mentally-ill patient in the face. Yet this officer has had all charges against him dismissed. A department beleaguered by numerous complaints of police brutality and violent criminal activity now faces another scandal in which their reputation hangs in the balance.

Rayshon Gartley was involuntarily committed to Jackson Park Hospital. He was escorted there by police officer Clauzell Gause. Gartley was handcuffed when he was being pushed, and at one point, held down on the bed while punched. 

Gause was initially charged by Cook County prosecutors, but those charges have since been dismissed. Here, we will take a closer look at why.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240The Brandon Whitehead case has brought to the forefront the potential for police misconduct in Chicago. The city is already notorious for its violence and gun crime. However, there is an even more disturbing trend where law enforcement agents are actually breaking the law themselves. Because the police are given the power to gather evidence, they can sometimes abuse this power in order to hide their own misconduct.

The courts are also sometimes too willing to listen to everything that the police officers say without questioning whether or not they are true. This means that defendants who have a criminal record may not find it easy to convince the judge and jury that they were the victims of a crime committed by the police. This is not something that is just unique to Chicago. It happens in many other cities across the country. Only the best lawyers are able to overcome these challenges.

Victims of Police Corruption and Violence

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