Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Boulevard of Broken Dreams



When another police video was released of another young black man being gunned down in the street that once again asks the question:  Are 16 shots excessive force or just murder?  The answer came with the murder in the first degree charges for the maniac Police officer who shot and killed Laquan McDonald in the street.

What is the real question is why it took a year?  If it was a black man who shot and killed a cop in the street with one bullet, we would wait less than 24 hours before charges would be filed, an arraignment held and the plea bargaining would begin.  Or not and the accused would be rotting in a jai without appropriate legal representation or third rate representation.  If in some bizarre world where trials would  occur it would be a quick revolving door of days in the courtroom and the guilty verdict leveled and be over by this time or soon thereafter.

So a year to investigate?  Do the great unwashed have such a privilege? Who can afford hiring an investigator to take that much time to watch videos, interview witnesses, check out the Officer's personnel history (which is loaded with complaints) and of course look into the dead kid and find out why he would be walking down the middle of the street with a knife. Was he some type of expert knife thrower who could with one swift throw incapacitate or kill at least one of the several other officers that were there and in turn excuse or justify said force?  Wow this investigator is either very thorough or bilking the hourly.

I assume the Police Union is paying that charge as the city of Chicago is strapped for cash. I used to love the city and wanted to go to school there. Then income inequity destroyed that city in ways that any race riots and movements of the 60s could ever do. The sheer neglect, segregation and discrimination of those poor and  of course those largely of color, without eduction and in turn opportunity that results from said education enabled those to find less than legitimate means to find work and in turn income.  With that came the rise of the incarceration nation and that enabled cities and police to clear the streets and give the impression that they cared about the very people that they targeted and in turn duped.  It was a con.  While the rising black on black violence has escalated in Chicago, the powers there seem as lackadaisical in their approach in "investigating" the source of those crimes against those they claim to protect and serve equally.  Right sure what.ever.

Chicago my kind of town. No it is just another town in America that has divisions of society that mark those with and those without.  Rich lives matter.

Chicago police officer charged in deadly shooting has a history of misconduct complaints

The Washington Post
The Morning Mix
By Sarah Kaplan
November 25 2015


In the graphic video seen across the country Tuesday, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke levels his gun toward Laquan McDonald, an African American teen carrying a knife and veering away from the officer. Van Dyke shoots. McDonald spins, then falls to the ground as Van Dyke continues to fire every bullet in his clip — 16 shots in all.

The officer was charged Tuesday with first degree murder in the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting, which prosecutors say was an “improper use of deadly force.” That night protesters in Chicago streamed through downtown toward police department headquarters, chanting “16 shots.”

Van Dyke, a white 14-year veteran of Chicago’s police force, has been accused of misconduct 17 times before, according to data from the University of Chicago and the journalism non-profit Invisible Institute. The database, published less than a week before the announcement that Van Dyke would be prosecuted, details tens of thousands of complaints against Chicago police officers that weren’t previously made public. Fewer than five percent of the allegations resulted in disciplinary actions for the officers; none of the 18 complaints against Van Dyke led to a penalty.

“We don’t have all of Van Dyke’s complaints but … the misconduct complaints from Van Dyke that we do have in our data tool show by and large excessive force and racial slurs. And he has largely operated with impunity and under a code of silence with the same huddle of officers again and again,” the Invisible Institute’s Alison Flowers told Chicago ABC affiliate WLS.

Van Dyke joined the Chicago Police Department in 2001 and spent several years on the force’s Targeted Response Unit, a city-wide team that aggressively worked in neighborhoods where crime was spiking. That force was disbanded by Superintendent Garry McCarthy in 2011.

The allegations against Van Dyke include 10 complaints of excessive force, including two incidents where he allegedly used a firearm, causing injury. He was also accused of improper searches and making racially or ethnically biased remarks. Four of the allegations were proven factual, but Van Dyke’s actions were deemed lawful and appropriate. In most of the other cases, there was either not enough evidence to prove or disprove the complaint or the allegation was proven unfounded.

The data shows that it’s rare for any officers to be penalized, and white officers were half as likely as black ones to be disciplined for a complaint. More than 60 percent of allegations that resulted in discipline came from white citizens, even though they accounted for just 20 percent of complainants. (Black complainants were also much more likely to fail to file an affidavit, a necessary step in the investigation process, which may account for some of the disparity.)

Regardless of race, it was extremely rare for allegations of any kind to be upheld — four percent of the 56,361 allegations were sustained. And it was even rarer for officers to be disciplined with more than a reprimand or a suspension of less than 10 days.

The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), which investigates police shootings and misconduct allegations, is led mostly by former cops, according to Chicago public radio station WBEZ. That has led some to question how independent the agency really is.

“Complaints may be seen not through the eyes of the citizen but through the eyes of a police officer,” Paula Tillman, a former IPRA investigative supervisor who was a Chicago cop herself in the 1970s and 1980s, told WBEZ. “The investigations can be engineered so that they have a tilt toward law enforcement and not what the citizen is trying to say.”

[54 police officers have faced criminal charges for fatally shooting someone while on duty in the past decade]

The Invisible Institute database also reveals how easy it could be for a few apparently abusive officers to garner a disproportionate number of complaints. Apparent repeat offenders — officers with more than 10 complaints against them — represented 30 percent of all complaints, even though they made up only 10 percent of the police force — a fact that police accountability experts like University of Pittsburgh Law School professor David A. Harris find troubling.

“It’s not unusual for a police officer to get a complaint, but the fact is that a complaint is a significant piece of information if it is a recurring thing,” Harris told the New York Times. “It is the patterns we worry about.”

Though Van Dyke appears in the database many times, he is by no means the most complained-about officer listed. That distinction goes to Jerome Finnigan, the subject of 68 citizen complaints in nearly two decades with the Chicago Police Department; none of the allegations resulted in disciplinary action.

In 2011, Finnigan was convicted of robbing criminal suspects while serving on an elite force and ordering a hit on a cop he thought might turn him in. At his sentencing, Finnigan admitted to having become “a corrupt police officer,” according to the Chicago Tribune. But he said the police department was aware, and for many years did nothing.

“My bosses knew what I was doing out there,” he said, “and it went on and on. And this wasn’t the exception to the rule. This was the rule.”

The same year Finnigan was convicted, Garry McCarthy was appointed the city’s police superintendent. Since then, city officials told the New York Times, the police department that has been plagued for years by instances of brutality and abuse has undergone reforms in how it deals with officer misconduct. The department said it gets half as many citizen complaints as it did several years ago. (The Invisible Institute database lists 5,776 complaints in 2014, compared with 6,439 in 2011, though the non-profit says their information is likely incomplete.)

One of those 2014 complaints is dated Oct. 20 — a misconduct allegation against Officer Jason Van Dyke. The database doesn’t include the details of the complaint, but it’s clear from the date and location what it’s about: the shooting of Laquan McDonald.

When Ed Nance first heard that Van Dyke was the officer involved, he broke into tears.

“It just makes me so sad because it shouldn’t have happened,” he told the Chicago Tribune in April. “He shouldn’t have been on the street in the first place after my incident.”

Nance filed his own complaint against Van Dyke in 2007, after he says the cop aggressively handcuffed him during a traffic stop, injuring both his shoulders. A federal jury found that Van Dyke and a partner had used excessive force and rewarded Nance $350,000 in damages. But IPRA said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Nance’s claims. Both officers were cleared of all the allegations.

“They looked like, OK, so what, go (back) to work,” Nance told the Tribune. “They was back on the street like nothing ever happened.”

Nance, a cable company employee with no criminal record, underwent two shoulder surgeries and began taking anxiety medication after the incident. Though he eventually recovered, the news about the shooting brought back Nance’s memories of the encounter with Van Dyke.

“It makes me feel like it could have been me,” he told the Tribune.

Daniel Herbert, Van Dyke’s attorney, said his client shot McDonald in self-defense. Prosecutors and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) thought otherwise.

“We hold our police officers to a high standards and obviously in this case Jason Van Dyke violated … basic moral standards that bind our community together,” Emanuel said at a news conference announcing the release of dash-cam video of McDonald’s shooting.

After a judge ordered the release of the video last week, Cook County chief prosecutor Anita Alvarez said she moved up the filing of the first degree murder charge to come out the same day, just hours before the video was made public.

“With release of this video it’s really important for public safety that the citizens of Chicago know that this officer is being held responsible for his actions,” she said.

Van Dyke’s case marks the first time in more than three decades that a Chicago police officer has been charged with murder for an on-duty shooting.


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