Tag Archives: Chicago Police

Police Tactics Questioned after Chicago Officers ‘Accidentally’ Kill Grandmother

Chicago police officers responding to calls about a domestic disturbance early Saturday morning shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier, 19, along with Bettie Jones, 55, who lived in a neighboring apartment.

Police were initially called by Quintonio’s father, Antonio LeGrier, who claimed that his son began banging on his locked bedroom door around 4:15 a.m. Saturday morning, and then left and went downstairs to the apartment where Jones lived.

LeGrier told the Chicago Sun-Times that his son, a student at Northern Illinois University, was a “whiz kid” who had emotional problems from growing up in foster care, and that he was prescribed medication in November.

LeGrier said that in addition to calling police, he also called Jones to warn her, and he said Jones claimed she saw Quintonio standing outside her door with a baseball bat.

LeGrier began to run downstairs when police arrived, but that he stopped when he heard gunfire, followed by one officer saying, “F—, no, no, no. I thought he was lunging at me with the bat.” However, LeGrier told the Times he believes that the officer “knew he had shot blindly, recklessly into the doorway and now two people are dead because of it.”

The official statement from police described Quintonio LeGrier as a “combative subject,” which resulted in “the discharging of the officer’s weapon which fatally wounded two individuals.” Jones was shot at least once, and LeGrier was shot seven times.

The statement said Jones, a mother of five and a grandmother, was “accidentally struck and tragically killed.”

During a news conference on Sunday, Jones’s friend Jacqueline Walker questioned why police “have to shoot first and ask questions later,” calling current techniques “ridiculous.”

Sam Adam Jr., a lawyer representing Jones’s family, claimed that “shell casings were found some 20 feet away,” which he said raises “questions about whether police could have perceived LeGrier as a threat at such a distance.”

While the Chicago police department has not said how many officers were involved in the shooting, it did issue a statement claiming that the officers involved “will be placed on routine administrative duties for a period of 30 days.”

[RELATED: Under Federal Investigation, Chicago PD Releases Controversial Videos of Officer Conduct]

This shooting comes at a time the Chicago police department is already under a federal investigation by the Department of Justice, which was launched after a Chicago police officer was charged with first degree murder for the first time in 35 years.

Under Federal Investigation, Chicago PD Releases Controversial Videos of Officer Conduct

As the Department of Justice launches a civil rights investigation into the practices of the Chicago Police Department, a series of videos have been released depicting controversial officer conduct.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Monday that the DoJ was launching the investigation because when “suspicion and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest,” and a lack of trust between police and their communities, “makes it more difficult to gain help within investigations, to encourage the victims and the witnesses of crime to speak up and to fulfill the most basic responsibilities of public-safety officials.”

[RELATED: Chicago Police Shooting Video Released Officer Charged First Degree Murder]

[pull_quote_center]The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether the Chicago police department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution of Federal Law. Specifically, we will examine a number of issues related to the Chicago police department’s use of force, including its use of deadly force, racial, ethnic and other disparities in its use of force and its accountability mechanisms such as its disciplinary actions and its handling of allegations of misconduct.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Chicago Police Union Stands By Officer Charged with First Degree Murder]

The investigation comes weeks after the dashcam video from the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was released on Nov. 24. The shooting occurred on Oct. 20, 2014, and the officer involved, Officer Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first degree murder after the video showed him opening fire just six seconds after exiting his patrol car and shooting McDonald 16 times.

The case of Van Dyke was unique due to the fact that it was the first time in 35 years that a Chicago police officer has been charged with first degree murder.

[RELATED: Lawyers: Alleged “Black Site” In Chicago Detaining And Interrogating Suspects]

The DoJ’s announcement came on the same day prosecutors announced they would not charge the officer who fatally shot 25-year-old Ronald Johnson III on Oct. 12, 2014. Dashcam video of the shooting showed Officer George Hernandez, who was responding to a call of “shots fired,” exit an unmarked police car and chase Johnson on foot, taking four steps before firing several shots.

Warning: The following video contains graphic content.

While Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez claimed that Johnson was carrying a gun at the time of the shooting, Johnson’s family attorney Michael Oppenheimer alleged that a gun was planted on Johnson’s body, and claimed that Alvarez had not interviewed any of the officers involved in the incident.

A third video was released, also on Monday, which depicted the events that led up to the death of 38-year-old Philip Coleman in 2012. In the video, which shows the view of a security surveillance camera, Coleman is lying on a cot in a jail cell when six officers enter.

Warning: The following video contains graphic content.

While the video does not have audio, it does show the officers speaking to Coleman briefly, and then surrounding him and shocking him with a taser multiple times. They then drag his limp body out of the cell. Coleman was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement condemning the way Coleman was treated by the officers. “I do not see how the manner in which Mr Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable,” he said. “Something is wrong here – either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department.”

Chicago’s Acting Police Superintendent John Escalante said the case of Coleman’s death is “under investigation, as it should be.” He also said that while the independent investigation is ongoing, the department “will be doing our own review of our policies and practices surrounding the response to mental health crises.”

Chicago Police Union Stands By Officer Charged with First Degree Murder

Chicago’s main police union is standing in support of Officer Jason Van Dyke after he was charged with first degree murder last week, accused of shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014.

The Chicago lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) posted a bail fund appeal for Van Dyke on its website on Saturday after creating a bond fund appeal on Wednesday. Currently, Van Dyke is being held without bail.

[RELATED: Chicago Police Shooting Video Officer Charged First Degree Murder]

The shooting, which was captured on dash cam video that was recently released via a court order, shows Van Dyke opening fire on McDonald just six seconds after exiting his patrol vehicle.

[WARNING: The following video contains graphic content]


The FOP is reportedly “paying the lawyer representing Van Dyke, Daniel Herbert, himself a former FOP member the union pays to represent Chicago cops in misconduct cases,” and that an earlier link on the FOP’s website to a GoFundMe campaign was “removed after the fundraising site said it violated a policy against its use by criminal defendants.”

Between 2008 and 2014, 74 percent of the people shot by police in Chicago were black. According to interviews with white and black police officers conducted by Reuters, the officers indicated that it was worthwhile to put Van Dyke’s actions “in the context of a racially divided city beset by violence.”

During Van Dyke’s 14-year career as a police officer, there were at least 20 complaints against him, according to an online database of police misconduct complaints compiled by the Citizens Police Data Project. None of those complaints resulted in discipline.

The release of the dash cam video from the shooting has led to protests in Chicago, and in response, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced on Sunday that by mid-2016, police officers will wear body cameras in six additional police districts.

[RELATED: Investigator Says He was Fired for Finding Police Officers At Fault in Shootings]

Earlier this year, former Chicago Police Commander Lorenzo Davis said he was fired from his job as a supervising investigator at Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) after he determined that several officers involved in civilian shootings were unjustified, and he refused to change the status of his reports.

As previously reported, the case against Van Dyke is the first time in 35 years that a Chicago police officer has been charged with first degree murder.

Investigator Says He Was Fired For Finding Police Officers At Fault In Shootings

Former Chicago Police Commander, Lorenzo Davis, said that he was fired from his job as a supervising investigator at Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) after he determined that several officers involved in civilian shootings were unjustified, and he refused to change the status of his reports.

WBEZ reported that 65-year-old Davis was terminated less than two weeks after top IPRA officials accused him of “a clear bias against the police” and claimed that he was “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,” or officer-involved shootings.

Davis told WBEZ that he worked as a police commander for 23 years, before retiring in 2004, because he didn’t like the direction the police department was going. “It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do,” Davis said. “The discipline was no longer there.”

Davis said he was then hired to work as an investigator for IPRA in 2008 and for the majority of his tenure, he was praised as an “effective leader” and “excellent team player,” before his final evaluation stated that he is “clearly not a team player.”

“Things began to turn sour, I would say, within the last year,” said Davis, who explained that while his management has no objections when his reports suggested exonerating officers, they did try to step in when he produced reports in six cases that ruled the officer-involved shootings “unjustified.” 

“They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot,” Davis said. “They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force.”

Fox 32 noted that since it was created in 2007, “IPRA has handled nearly 400 officer involved shootings, and in every case but one, the officers were found to be justified in shooting someone.” Davis told the Chicago affiliate that he believes IPRA has lost both its independence and the public’s trust.

“With hundreds of cases, the citizens know some of those shootings were not justified,” Davis said. “If the public has no trust in police officers, many of the loved ones of those shot or killed by a police officers say that the police are no better than the gang bangers who are shooting and killing people.”

Four Illinois Officers Charged With Felony Perjury In Drug Case

Chicago, IL- Three narcotics officers from Chicago and one officer from the nearby town of Glenview have been charged with lying under oath during a hearing in March 2014.

Glenview Officer James Horn, Chicago Sgt. James Padar, Chicago Officer William Pruente, and Chicago Officer Vince Morgan are facing felony charges of perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice. The charges were announced on Monday by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

The charges stemmed from court testimony given by officers regarding a June 2013 traffic stop in Glenview that led to a drug-related arrest. Joseph Sperling, a Glenview resident, was pulled over near his home by Pruente after failing to use his turn signal, according to Pruente’s testimony. Pruente also testified that he smelled marijuana from inside the car as he waited for Sperling to provide his license and insurance information.

Pruente then stated that Sperling admitted to having a small about of marijuana with him. Pruente said he ordered Sperling to step out of his car and stand next to the trunk. Close to a pound of marijuana in a backpack was in plain view in the backseat, according to Pruente’s testimony.

Pruente said that while the other officers stood watch, he performed a vehicle search and found the marijuana before handcuffing and arresting Sperling. Officers Horn, Padar, and Morgan each provided testimony to corroborate Pruente’s claims.

But as a fifth officer was providing similar testimony backing up the statements of Pruente, Sperling’s lawyer surprised the courtroom by showing a police video that Goldman had subpoenaed. The footage shown directly contradicted the testimony from all five officers.

The video, taken from a Glenview Police vehicle camera, showed that Pruente did not wait for Sperling to hand over his license as he had sworn under oath, but had immediately opened Sperling’s car door upon his approach by unlocking it through the driver’s side window and making Sperling step out of the car. The video also showed Sperling was frisked, handcuffed and led back to the police vehicle before police began searching his car.

A CBS Chicago news segment shows Pruente prompting Sperling to exit his vehicle:

A transcript of the March 2014 hearing quoted the judge as saying in the courtroom following the revelation, “All officers lied on the stand today. … All their testimony was a lie. So there’s strong evidence it was conspiracy to lie in this case, for everyone to come up with the same lie. … Many, many, many, many times they all lied.”

A fifth police officer involved in giving questionable testimony, Glenview Sgt. Theresa Urbanowski, has not been charged but is on paid leave.

Daniel Herbert, an attorney for Horn, was willing to acknowledge his client gave incorrect testimony but said that prosecutors have the burden of proving that the officers intentionally lied about a relevant fact of the case.

The cities of Chicago and Glenview paid $195,000 total to Sperling in a federal lawsuit settlement prior to the charges against the officers being filed.

REPORT: Chicago Police Perform ‘Stop and Frisk’ Four Times as Often as NYPD

Recent revelations regarding the Chicago police’s use of Stop and Frisk searches, StingRay surveillance, and the existence of a ‘black site’ in Homan Square, begs the question – What is happening in Chicago?

A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has found that the Chicago Police Department is the nation’s leader in the use of the controversial “stop-and-frisk” practice. Chicagoans are now stopped four times as often as New Yorkers. The report finds that when Chicago police stop individuals, the justification for the stops rarely meet constitutional standards.

In the Summer of 2014, the CPD performed more than a quarter million stops of individuals that did not lead to an arrest. This puts the CPD ahead of the NYPD in stops per 1000 residents. The NYPD has had to scale back the use of the practice after a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional in the city. The ACLU also found that African Americans were often singled out for the searches.

“While most of the media coverage has suggested that that stop-and-frisk was a New York phenomena – it’s misuse is not limited to New York,” said Harvey Grossman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “Chicago has been systematically abusing this practice, for reasons that are not justified by our constitution.”

The Chicago Police Department has faced increased scrutiny in recent months for their surveillance practices and violating suspects’ rights to due process. In the last six months the CPD  has spent more than $120,000 to fight a lawsuit around the departments use of StingRay surveillance tools. The StingRays are a brand name of cell-site simulators, a device which tricks cellphones into thinking it is a cell tower and gathers up sensitive data.

Chicago resident Freddy Martinez is suing the city for what he calls unlawful surveillance.  Chicago police say the device has only been used to catch criminals, and refuses to release details of how they use the new technology. The Chicago PD and other law enforcement agencies sign non-disclosure agreements with Harris Corp, for the use of StingRay surveillance. This has created a dangerous situation where the police often are unwilling to speak freely about how they tools are being deployed.

StingRays are not the only tools the CPD is using, however. In early 2014 it was reported that the Chicago police are experimenting with a new program designed to predict whether a person will commit a crime in the near future. In recent years predictive analytical systems have become increasingly popular with police departments determined to stop crime before it happens, also known as “pre-crime”. One of the CPD’s tools is a “heat list”, a list of around 400 citizens who are most likely to be involved in a violent crime.

Hanni Fakhoury of the Electronic Frontier Foundation stated, “My fear is that these programs are creating an environment where police can show up at anyone’s door at any time for any reason.” CPD Commander Jonathan Lewin believes, “This [program] will become a national best practice.” The CPD received more than $2 million from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to test the program.

BenSwann.com also reported on the revelation that the CPD has been using a warehouse as a “black site” to illegally hold suspects without access to family, attorneys and subject to beatings. The facility is located in Chicago’s Homan Square and has been used as a work station for special police units.

The Guardian interviewed lawyers and former detainees who revealed several facts, including detainees being kept out of official arrest databases, shackled for extended periods of times, and denied access to attorneys for 12 to 24 hours. Some suspects were as young as 15 years old. One man was found unresponsive while at the facilities interview room and later died.

Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the United States. Every day the city’s police department looks more and more like the violent, criminal police departments in other major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston. To recap, the Chicago are: police stopping individuals at an increasing rate; operating cell phone surveillance systems and “heat lists”; and illegally holding suspects under the threat of violence. At what point do we ask ourselves, is this the best we can do? Is this the only form community protection can take?

Alleged “Black Site” In Chicago Detaining And Interrogating Suspects

Chicago, IL- A warehouse on Chicago’s west side, known as Homan Square, is allegedly being used as an interrogation facility similar to a CIA “black site” according to an extensive report by The Guardian.

The Guardian reports that Homan Square operates in secret and regularly denies its detainees their Constitutional rights by using the following practices:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds
  • Shackling for prolonged periods
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15

The Guardian interviewed various attorneys, former law enforcement agents and a man named Brian Church, a protester who said he spent 17 hours at Homan Square handcuffed to a bench. Church was the only detainee willing to speak out to the Guardian. Attorneys for other detainees have stated that their clients fear retaliation from police.

Church was a protester who became known as one of the “Nato 3” accused of terrorism in 2012. Church was not convicted of terrorism but served time for misdemeanor “mob action” and possession of an incendiary device. He is now on parole. “What sticks out the most in my mind is the amount of armored vehicles they had in their garage just sitting there,” Church told the Guardian about what he noticed at Homan Square. “Big vehicles, like the very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.”

Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recounted that she and other attorneys spent 12 hours searching for him and could not find any booking record. An attorney was later allowed entry into Honan Square before police transferred Church to a police station.

Attorneys said that it’s a rarity to be allowed inside the building to see a client. “It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place [Homan Square]– if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes. The Guardian was denied access to the interior of the building and a man at the facility only said that “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” and refused to answer any questions.

Former Chicago police superintendent Richard Brzeczek said the facility is “not really a secret location, but it’s kind of a cloistered location.” Brzeczek acknowledged the presence of floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cages inside the building, “much like going into, say, a factory where there are certain areas that are secure.”

Bartmes recalled a phone call from a mother who said she was worried her 15-year-old son had been detained by police. It was later found the boy was being questioned at Homan Square, and Bartmes said that she was refused access. Bartmes said she was told “you can’t just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you’re making people very nervous.” Bartmes said the boy was released after 12 or 13 hours, facing no charges.

One death has been reported at Homan Square. In February 2013, John Hubbard was found unresponsive inside one of Homan Square’s “interview rooms” and later pronounced dead. The Cook County medical examiner’s office was unable to find a record for the Guardian ruling a cause of death for Hubbard, and the Guardian was unable to find why Hubbard was detained by police in the first place.

Tracy Siska, a civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project and criminologist, said that facilities like Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib cause interrogative practices to “creep into other aspects.”

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago,” she said.