Thursday, July 20, 2006
WILL ANYTHING BE DONE ABOUT CHICAGO COP TORTURE
A 292-page special prosecutor's report released Wednesday paints for the first time the complete and utterly disgraceful picture of institutional abuse under former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.
Of course, we already knew what the report told us.
No charges were filed because of how long ago all this took place.
Give me a break.
"We understood what [Special Prosecutor Edward] Egan was going to do -- he was going to continue to keep stuff covered up," David Bates, who says Burge tortured him in 1983 told the Chicago Sun Times. "We didn't look for a remedy here."
But Bates, addressing dozens of reporters at a downtown law office, appeared weary and frustrated. "I'm at a loss for words to look at this [expletive] report and to hear that torture existed but that there was no way we can deal with it," Bates said.
Lawyer Flint Taylor says charges can and should be brought.
The People's Law Office with which Taylor is associated brought federal lawsuits against Burge and his men. He argues that in 2003, Burge, in a written statement for a federal lawsuit, denied knowing about or seeing torture or abuse of freed Death Row inmate Madison Hobley.
Taylor outlined for prosecutors more than a dozen recent incidents where detectives answered questions in civil lawsuits.
He calls that a continuing cover-up, which could bring new charges including racketeering conspiracy or obstruction, he argued. The FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sergio Acosta, civil rights coordinator in the U.S. attorney's office here, are reviewing the report, but a spokesman had no comment on what options, if any, are available.
Lawyer Rick Halprin said Burge's written statement could be enough for a charge.
"If it was a material false statement made under oath within the last five years: Bang, it's indictable," he said.
The first report below comes from Democracy Now. The next piece comes from the Chicago Defender which serves the African American community. For further background information from the Oread Daily go to http://oreaddaily.blogspot.com/2006/05/activists-and-un-calls-for-action-on.html.
Report Confirms Chicago Police Tortured Black Prisoners
Special prosecutors in Chicago have released a major report confirming that African American men have been systematically tortured inside the Chicago prison system. We speak with one of the lead attorneys in the case and a torture survivor.
We take a look at torture and brutality here in the U.S. For nearly two decades an area in Chicago's city jails known Area 2 was the epicenter for the systematic torture of dozens of African-American males by Chicago police officers. Close to 150 people say they were subjected to abuse including having guns forced into their mouths, bags places over their heads, and electric shocks inflicted to their genitals. Four men were released from death row after government investigators concluded torture led to their wrongful convictions. Yet to date no police have been charged with any crime.
Well, yesterday the findings of a four-year investigation into the cases were released. The investigation found evidence that several officers in the department tortured criminal suspects but concluded that they cannot be prosecuted because too much time has passed.
Flint Taylor, an attorney with the People's Law Office in Chicago. He represented many of the torture victims and was directly involved in spearheading the special prosecutor's investigation.
David Bates, one of the men to come forward with allegations of torture.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by Flint Taylor and David Bates. Flint Taylor is an attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago, represented many of the torture victims, was directly involved in spearheading the special prosecutor’s investigation. And David Bates is one of the men to come forward with the allegations of torture.
Let's begin with Flint Taylor. Can you assess for us this report that has -- well, we last talked to you -- what was it? -- a month or two ago. The report had been done, but wasn’t being released to the public. Many were trying to suppress it for good.
FLINT TAYLOR: That's right. You want me to talk about the report? It’s a very -- it’s kind of a mixed bag in the sense that the evidence was so strong that the special prosecutor found that over half of the 148 people that said they were tortured and abused were, in fact, that they believed they were. But they used the legal out of saying it wasn't beyond a, quote, “reasonable doubt.”
They also found, very interestingly, that there was a high governmental cover-up of the torture, the criminal torture, which they found it to be, of one victim, Andrew Wilson, in 1982. However, what makes it a whitewash at the political level not only is the fact that they did not indict anybody, but they did not condemn the people who were truly responsible for the whitewash and the cover-up that occurred in the Andrew Wilson case. In other words, Andrew Wilson, what they say, was criminally tortured in 1982. They say that the higher ups, the police superintendent, was aware, which he was, of the torture, and he did nothing about it.
The reality is, what he did do and what the report in fact whitewashes is that he wrote a letter directly to the Mayor of the -- at that time the State's Attorney of the County of Cook, Richard Daley, who’s now the mayor -- and directly asked him to investigate criminally. And the Mayor, Richard Daley, and his first assistant, Richard Devine, who is now the Cook County State's Attorney, did nothing. But they give Daley and Devine, the ruling powers here in the city of Chicago, a complete pass and blame Richard Brzeczek, who is now a private lawyer, the former police superintendent, for not only covering up the torture of Andrew Wilson, but what follows, which is David Bates and 55 -- many of those 75 men, who they found had been tortured, wouldn't have been tortured if, in fact, there was action in 1982.
So what we have here is a report, which, de facto, sets forth the predicate for the indictment -- politically, at least -- of the Mayor and the State's Attorney of Cook County for failing to prevent this torture, and yet blames a subordinate police superintendent.
AMY GOODMAN: And the police have --
FLINT TAYLOR: And that’s what’s outraging everybody.
AMY GOODMAN: And the police official in charge, Jon Burge, talking about -- admitting that this happened, that people were tortured, but that they will not be prosecuted.
FLINT TAYLOR: That’s the other thing that’s outrageous about the whole thing, is we see now that there is a blueprint that’s been developed in various cases for prosecuting people for perjury, for obstruction of justice, when in fact they’re able to cover things up for so long and avoid prosecution until the, quote, “statute of limitations” has run on the acts themselves, that being the torture, etc. If you accept the fact that there's not a continuing conspiracy, which we say there was, that starts with the torture and continues to this day in covering it up, if you just look at it in terms of obstruction of justice and perjury and racketeering violations under the RICO Act, there are still major statutes that you can prosecute under.
And we‘ve seen it happen. We saw it in the Judith Miller case. We saw it with regard to Libby. We saw it with regard to many prosecutions of daily subordinates in corruption cases here in the city of Chicago. And we’re going to see it in another field with regard to a baseball player, Barry Bonds. Now, if they can indict Barry Bonds for perjury and obstruction of justice, they can certainly indict Jon Burge, a torturer, for obstruction of justice, perjury, and –
AMY GOODMAN: David Bates, we don't have much time. Can you briefly describe what happened to you and then talk about what you think of the conclusion that they cannot prosecute people here?
DAVID BATES: Hi. October the 29th, 1983, for almost two days I was tortured, but not Jon Burge, but detectives under him, things such as a plastic bag being placed over my head in a couple of sessions. And I was slapped and kicked and punched. Derogatory terms. Threats. Threatened with killing me. And my whole point, my issue with this report, my issue with this whole thing is that there's a concentration on Jon Burge, but Jon Burge did not torture me. It was people under him that tortured me, and there was not a concentrated effort to deal with those detectives under him.
And this is why this report is wrong, because it don't deal with the victims. It acknowledges that we were tortured, but it doesn't offer no type of remedy or recourse to deal with that torture. There is grounds for prosecution and evidence beyond anyone's imagination, but there was not a course for action. And that’s where I think there was an error in spending over $7 million of county money to give us a $500 report that I could’ve did in high school.
AMY GOODMAN: David Bates, I want to thank you for being with us. And, Flint Taylor, does it end here?
FLINT TAYLOR: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Flint Taylor, does it end here?
FLINT TAYLOR: Oh, I’m sorry. Does it end here? No, it certainly doesn't end here.
AMY GOODMAN: We have ten seconds.
FLINT TAYLOR: We’re going to go to the U.S. Attorney. We’re going to demand that there be federal prosecutions and, in fact, reparations for people like David Bates, and to deal with all the cases that are pending in civil court; and we’re certainly just --
DAVID BATES: And we’re going to the streets, too.
FLINT TAYLOR: We certainly are.
AMY GOODMAN: We will leave it there and certainly cover the developments. David Bates, I want to thank you for being with us, and Flint Taylor, both from Chicago. And we’ll post the report on our website at democracynow.org.
A Damn Shame: Report details massive abuse of Black men by Chicago police
by Mema Ayi, Defender Staff Writer
July 20, 2006
It is unlikely any indictments will follow Wednesday's release of the long-awaited investigation into more than 180 allegations of torture under former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge.
Despite the findings of abuse and wrongdoing, no one will be charged because the statute of limitations has run out for many of the crimes detailed in the 1,700-page report, special prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Boyle said Wednesday.
"We have concluded that the statute of limitations would bar any prosecution of any offenses our investigation has disclosed," the special prosecutors said in the report.
"In three cases we could prove torture beyond a reasonable doubt," Egan said.
In many other cases, Egan and Boyle believed the torture allegations, but lacked sufficient evidence to prove the claims beyond reasonable doubt.
In Illinois, felonies cannot be prosecuted more than three years after the crime is committed.
Lawrence Kennon, a petitioning attorney for the alleged torture victims told the Defender Wednesday that it is disappointing that no indictments will follow the release of the document.
It is not a surprise, he added, that then-State's Attorney Richard M. Daley or his assistant, now-State's Attorney Richard Devine, were not indicted.
"Four years and $7 million and there's not enough evidence to prosecute anybody? That's what I'm calling a cover-up because of political clout," Kennon said.
Boyle said the special prosecutors too were disappointed that there was no further recourse.
"It isn't that nothing can be done, because when we got this case, nothing had been done," Boyle said. "It certainly put issues on the table that we have no power to deal with."
Kennon said he hopes for federal indictments, but Boyle said a copy of his report was delivered to the U.S. Attorney's office, which twice before concluded it could not proceed.
But Kennon said he and the other petitioning attorneys will pursue federal charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy and perjury.
Burge and a "midnight crew" of about a dozen officers at Areas 2 and 3 Violent Crimes division allegedly tortured more than 180 men into confessions between the early 1970s and the early 1990s.
None of the officers are currently Chicago Police officers. Burge was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1991 and lives in Florida on a taxpayer-funded pension.
Egan and Boyle began the investigation with 64 allegations, but the number of men with credible cases of police torture ballooned to nearly 200 cases over the course of the investigation.
Burge's torture techniques included electronic shock to the genitals and other body parts, as well as Russian roulette. Those forms, however, were less common than the fists, feet and telephone books most often used to illicit confessions, Boyle said.
The investigation found the Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards and county prosecutors mishandled brutality complaints.
Egan and Boyle blame former Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek and former assistant State's Attorney William Kunkle for not properly investigating the claims of torture by Andrew Wilson before the statute of limitations ran out.
Wilson, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of two police officers, was sentenced to death in 1983.
In 1987, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the death sentence on the grounds that his confession should have been suppressed because prosecutors failed to explain adequately how Wilson suffered certain injuries while in police custody.
Wilson said Burge, who was one of the arresting officers, was not in the room at Area 2 where he was beaten by several officers who began kicking, slapping and hitting with their fists after his February 1982 arrest for the murders. Detectives then put a plastic bag over his head and burned him on the arm with a cigarette.
Wilson said another officer used electric shocks on his nostril and ear.
After the initial interrogation, Wilson said told Assistant State's Attorney Lawrence Hyman that he was being mistreated.
Hyman - the only former assistant state's attorney to refuse to be interviewed by the special prosecutors - allegedly told officers to remove Wilson. Detectives then took Wilson into a room where he received electric shocks to the genitals.
He agreed to make a statement to keep from being shocked again.
After making oral and written confessions to Hyman, Wilson was taken to the lockup at 11th and State Streets by uniformed officers. However, personnel refused to accept him because of his condition.
A Cook County Jail physician later examined Wilson and detailed his injuries in a letter to Brzeczek and called for a thorough investigation of "alleged brutality."
Days later, Brzeczek sent a letter to Daley asking for direction in the investigation of the brutality claim.
"I have publicly stated that we will scrupulously investigate every allegation of police misconduct brought to our attention. However…I do not want to jeopardize the prosecution's case in any way," Brzeczek's 1982 letter read.
Wilson filed a civil right suit naming Brzeczek, Burge, the City of Chicago and other police officers. The first trial ended in a hung jury, a second jury found Wilson's constitutional rights had been violated but exonerated all of the police officers.
"The superintendent of police was convinced (Wilson) was abused, yet he did nothing about it," Boyle said. "He failed to live up to his sworn duty."
The Chicago Police OPS file on Wilson's complaint showed no police officers were interviewed, Boyle said.
"The superintendent did not conduct a meaningful investigation. If Brzeczek had done his duty, we wouldn't be here today," Boyle said.
Brzeczek defended himself Wednesday."They can blame me for whatever they want to blame me for," he said. "I know what I did was correct. It was not dereliction of duty."
Kunkle, now a Cook County circuit court judge, took control of the investigation of Wilson's claim procedurally and unilaterally, but should have shared the information with his superiors, Boyle said.
"He did not talk to people about it and that's the problem," Boyle said.
Kunkle, who represented Burge in two civil rights trials and his case against the city for his 1991 firing, was not available for comment, his staff said Wednesday.
Egan and Boyle said then-States Attorney Richard M. Daley ran the office by delegating duties and was not at fault for mistakes made by Kunkle.
Daley was not subpoenaed, but special prosecutors took court-recorded statements from the mayor under oath. Daley's statement is not in the report.
"We didn't deem it would have made any difference," Boyle said.
In a statement to special prosecutors, Daley said he was aware of the letter detailing Wilson's injuries and transferred the investigation to Kunkle, Boyle said.
"Daley thought all procedures were properly followed," Doyle said.
The Daley administration had no immediate comment.
Former Mayor Jane Byrne, who appointed Brzeczek, State's Attorney Richard Devine and former State's Attorney Jack O'Malley were also not subpoenaed.
Copies of the report will be available at the offices of the clerk of the circuit court of Cook County criminal courts building at 26th Street and California Avenue.