Roundup: Chicago Police Brutality and Misconduct in 2007

Police brutality seems like it's becoming more and more prevalent with the availability of YouTube and LiveLeak videos. The reality is, however, that police brutality is likely just as prevalent as it has always been, but now vigilante citizens armed with camera and video recording cell phones can more easily document it.

One thing's for sure: when it comes to attracting attention for police brutality and excessive force, as well as corruption and other questionable practices, no police department across the United States has been as notorious as the Chicago Police Department, at least in 2007.

And there's a good reason for their notoriety. As a recent CNN article reported, statistics show that between 2002 and 2004, more than 10,000 complaints were filed against City of Chicago police officers. Of course, you must keep in mind that, according to FBI crime reports, the city of Chicago arrested nearly 600,000 persons in the same time period. Still...

Additionally, a recent New York Times article quotes a University of Chicago study regarding the number of complaints per year at the CPD, finding that they are about 40% greater than the national average. And, only 5% of officers were responsible for a majority of the complaints received.

Below is a recap of some of the headlines that the Chicago Police Department made this year.

February 19: Off-Duty CPD Officer Bartender Beating Taped

A surveillance video at Jessie's Shortstop Inn Tavern shows a man brutally beating a female bartender, and this man turned out to be 12-year Chicago police veteran Anthony Abbate. After beating the woman and causing her personal injury, Abbate reportedly threatened to arrest any of the bar patrons who reported him. According to news reports on the incident, the Chicago Police Department tried to hide the offense, first by offering the victim money not to prosecute, then by charging the officer with a misdemeanor count without informing the State's Attorney's Office. It came out in the investigation that Abbate had prior DUI-related offenses, as well as arrests for drag racing and driving on a suspended license before he became a cop.

And, apparently the violent behavior runs in the family. A couple of weeks later, Anthony's brother Terry Abbate, also a 12-year veteran of the Chicago police force, was caught on tape in a barfight with another off-duty Washington, DC cop on St. Patrick's Day.

April 30: Photographer Files Suit Against City and County for Officer Beating

According to a lawsuit filed by photographer Dolores Robare, she claims she was crossing a street on foot on Chicago's North Side when a sheriff's car narrowly missed her. The officer stopped and demanded her license, which she refused to produce. Robare then claims she was handcuffed, thrown to the ground and beaten by four officers. The officers' defense was that her personal injuries were self-inflicted, and that she was drunk and provoked their use of physical force. However, she was not charged with any crime.

May 8: Businessmen Sue CPD for Bar Fight with Six Off-Duty Officers

A lawsuit filed by four businessmen against the City describes a bar fight incident in which six off-duty Chicago police officers beat the four men, leaving them with broken ribs, broken facial bones, injured vertebrae and bruises. A sergeant at the bar allegedly waved off police who were called to the scene. The suit also alleged that when a complaint was made to the CPD Office of Professional Standards, the officers tried to intimidate them, in one instance allegedly visiting one man's sister in the middle of the night and banging on her door.

September 19: Chicago Good Samaritan Falsely Arrested for Soliciting Prostitute

A Chicago man named Erasmus Palacios filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for wrongful arrest after being mistakenly arrested during a police prostitution sting. Palacios was stopped in a restaurant parking lot with his wife and daughter when he noticed a woman waving her arms across the street. Assuming she needed help , Palacios drove over to her. Immediately, the car was surrounded and cops took Palacios out of the car while his wife and daughter were screaming. His car was impounded and he taken into custody before being released with no charges eight hours later.

September 27: CPD Sued for Officer Abuse and Cover-Up

According to the Chicago Tribune, three women who were leaving the Chicago gay pride parade were accosted by an off-duty police officer whom they honked at for driving too slowly. He allegedly ran them off the road and assaulted them, calling them degrading names referring to their sexual orientation. The three women were charged with battery by two Illinois state patrol officers in order to cover up the CPD officer's role in the incident, but they sued the officer and the state officers for a hate crime, false arrest, excessive force and conspiracy for the "code of silence" in reporting instances of police misconduct.

September 28: One of CPD's Most Notorious Cops Strikes Again

CNN reported in a roundup story that Robin Petrovic was at the Funky Buddha Lounge when she called police for help with a surly bouncer. When the officer tried to get Petrovic to sign a blank incident report, she tried to write down his badge number, but he cuffed her and threw her to the ground, causing bruises to most of her body. It was revealed that the officer, James Chevas, had been the subject of more than 50 complaints, though never disciplined. He was eventually allowed to resign after he was caught on video using credit cards stolen from a suspect in custody. His punishment? 30 months probation.

October 9: Chicago Police Disband Elite Special Unit over Misconduct Complaints

Seven members of an elite Chicago Police squad called the Special Operations Section were charged with using their badges to shake down residents and intimidate people. As a result, the CPD decided to disband the SOS until they could investigate the matter further. The allegations against the officers included offenses as far-ranging as armed violence and home invasion to kidnapping. One of the officers, Jerome Hannigan, was even caught attempting to hire a hit man to murder one of the team's members to prevent him from talking to the government.

October 17: Court Finds that Officers Used Screwdriver to Perform Cavity Search

Two Chicago police officers were held liable for $4 million for an incident that occurred in 2004 in which a young man named Coprez Coffie was sodomized by officers with a screwdriver in the course of a cavity search. Though police denied his allegations, the jury was convinced by the evidence presented, including doctors reports of tears to Coffie's rectum and a screwdriver found in the police car's glove compartment with fecal matter on it. The jury found that one officer conducted an unreasonable search and his partner failed to stop it.

October 22: Alderman Petition for Release of List of CPD Officers with Multiple Complaints

28 members of Chicago's city council issued a formal request to a federal judge to have a list of 662 Chicago police officers who have 10 or more complaints made against them from 2001 to 2006. Mayor Daley's office had turned over the list to attorneys of Diane Bond for her police brutality case, but, unhelpfully, all the names on the list were blacked out. The judge later ruled that she could not order the release of the names.

December 10: City Settles Torture Lawsuit by Four Men for $20 Million

According to a lawsuit filed by former death row inmates Stanley Howard, Madison Hobley, Leroy Orange and Aaron Patterson, former police commander Jon Burge supervised their torture in order to gain confessions. The torture cited by the lawsuit included beatings and electric shocks. Former Governor George Ryan pardoned all four men in 2003, and now the four will split nearly $20 million for their victimization at the hands of Burge and his men.


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