It is always stressful when police officers apprehend you, however the situation becomes much more troublesome when one or more officers engage in any type of misconduct. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) receives thousands of complaints alleging different types of police misconduct per year and, until recently, the department’s policy was to keep records of misconduct confidential. In 2009, a journalist filed a request for some of these records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Earlier this year, an Illinois court of appeals decided that certain records of police misconduct should be disclosed to the public. This new disclosure requirement may spotlight some the CPD’s tendency to sweep police misconduct under the rug and will likely help Chicago criminal defense attorneys prove their clients were mistreated.
Misconduct in Chicago
Late last year, Officer Gildardo Sierra shot an unarmed man 16 times, including three times in the back while he was already on the ground. Sierra claimed he thought Flint Farmer’s cell phone was a gun. However, this was the third time Sierra had shot someone on the job in six months. Additionally, Sierra admitted to having multiple beers before starting his shift that night. Unbelievably, Sierra did not face any criminal charges for the shooting.
In 2013, juries also awarded certain victims of police misconduct and their families financial awards in civil trials regarding misconduct. For example, the parents of an 18-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police will receive an $8.5 million award, as the evidence showed the boy did not have a gun at the time of the shooting. Instead, officers are believed to have planted a gun at the scene after the shooting to cover up the mistake. Chicago resident John Collins is set to receive $1 million after police beat him up and then fabricated the events of the arrest to accuse Collins of felony assault. Collins spent 385 days behind bars during the malicious prosecution.
These are only a few examples of police misconduct that have made Chicago headlines in recent years. Police misconduct can come in many forms, such as unjustified use of excessive or deadly force, racial or sexual abuse, illegal searches, and false arrest.
When you give someone power, there is always the potential for them to abuse that power. Unfortunately, police officers are no different and there will always be certain members of the police force who misuse the power that comes with a gun and a badge. CPD can do a better job of regulating misconduct, however, since a professor at the University of Chicago reported that, out of 10,149 complaints against officers for wrongful conduct, only 19 led to officer suspension for more than a week. Additionally, CPD failed to even interview the officer in question in nearly 85% of the complaints. Hopefully, now that CPD must share certain misconduct records with the public, the department will have to hold more officers accountable for their wrongdoing.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, Chicago defense lawyer Steven Goldman will stand up for your rights and build an aggressive defense for your case. Do not hesitate to call for help today.