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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 07, 2015

 

Gonna be a cold winter in Chicago

by Tom Sullivan

The president's Oval Office speech and the San Bernadino shootings may have captured the headlines, but that doesn't mean the Chicago Police Department is off the hook:

The U.S. Department of Justice will open a wide-ranging civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department after the release of video of a patrolman's fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald and police reports from the officers on the scene that conflict with that video, sources told the Tribune on Sunday.

A law enforcement official familiar with the coming investigation said the inquiry likely will be announced "in the next week" and is expected to focus on officers' use of deadly force — including the system of oversight of police shootings — as well as training and community engagement.

This appears to be a broader investigation than the circumstances surrounding the McDonald case. Presumably, this will include federal investigation into police "black sites" such as Homan Square, allegedly used to torture confessions out of suspects. The Tribune continues:

On Sunday night, the chief administrator of Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority, the civilian agency that investigates the police use of excessive force, said he was resigning effective immediately. Scott Ando and his agency have long been a target of criticism, as was its predecessor, the Office of Professional Standards. Both were accused of failing to conduct meaningful investigations of police misconduct.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel last week fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy (or forced him to resign, depending on the news source). The Guardian reports,

City officials are bracing for the release of the dashcam footage in the killing of Ronald “Ronnie” Johnson, who was shot six times in the back by a Chicago police officer in October 2014. The footage is expected to be released this week.

A patterns and practices investigation does not criminally charge individuals, but often results in a consent decree between the police department and Justice Department to agree to new practices and accountability measures.

The AP provides this background on what Emanuel called "the checkered history of misconduct in the Chicago Police Department":

In one of the most notorious cases of wrongdoing, dozens of men, mostly African-American, said they were subjected to torture from a Chicago police squad headed by former commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, '80s and early '90s, and many spent years in prison. Burge was convicted of lying about the torture and served 4½ years in prison.

Of 409 shootings involving Chicago police since September 2007, only two have led to allegations against an officer being found credible, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing data from the agency that investigates police cases.

This is going to be interesting.