The Watch

News and Information for Chicago FOP members.

The Occasional Feminist?

Northwestern Letter Poses Tough Questions for Invisible Institute, Alison Flowers…

A letter sent by eight former Northwestern University students and two would-be employees to the school’s Medill School of Journalism claiming  “sexual harassment and assault” by a professor there got the media attention it was clearly aiming for.

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Tribune, Meisner Hit New Low

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That the Chicago Tribune would run the story by reporter Jason Meisner about Commander Paul Bauer being part of a chase of offenders who struck and killed a pregnant woman more than a decade earlier may be a mystery to some members of the community, but not to police and prosecutors.  

The reason is that police and prosecutors are accustomed to the intense antipathy the Tribune bears toward them.

But the question remains: The point of publishing this event, long settled, in connection with Commander Bauer’s tragic murder is exactly what?

Another event took place on Wednesday that further illuminates the intensity of bias against police at the Tribune. It was in the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Flood at 26th and California, where the sentencing hearing of Bernard Williams, who murdered Chicago Police Officer David Blake in 2010 in an off-duty premeditated shooting, was taking place.

David Blake’s first cousin read a victim impact statement, citing the fact that the death penalty is no longer an option for Williams.

Now here is something worthy of the Tribune bringing up from the past for a current story.

The death penalty is no longer on the table in Illinois in large part because of the Tribune. The newspaper embraced the narrative of a false exoneration in 1999 based on allegations of police misconduct. It was this exoneration that played a pivotal role in compelling Governor Ryan to place a moratorium on executions in 2003.

The evidence is now overwhelming that the Tribune got this story, at the very least, completely wrong. The paper refused to face this evidence and account for it. It refused to investigate the conduct of the Tribune writers in this period, instead relentlessly beating the drum of police misconduct in numerous other cases that now appear as suspicious as this 1999 case.

The death penalty in Illinois ended not through a reasoned debate on the floor of the Illinois Congress, nor in some referendum voted on by citizens. It ended because the Tribune championed a ludicrous narrative that can no longer withstand the evidence.

One of the Tribune’s reporters, Megan Crepeau, attended the sentencing hearing of Williams. Too bad Crepeau or any other reporter at the Tribune didn’t want to bring up these past events in their stories.

The Trib’s anti-police bias is a kind of mania, revealed over the last three decades, all the way up to this story about Commander Bauer published even before his family has attended the funeral.

The heroic sense of duty that permeated Commander Bauer’s entire career, including his death, is something altogether lacking in the newsroom at the Tribune.

Nevertheless, it would be a rare act of decency for the reporters there to hold off returning to their daily attacks on the police until the funeral of this courageous police officer takes place. 

What Transparency?

A controversial ruling by the City’s police oversight agency that a fatal 2015 police shooting was unjustified took another major hit this week.

Based on a Freedom of Information Request by attorneys working for the Fraternal Order of Police, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) revealed that the agency had employed an outside law firm as part the agency’s investigation of a 2015 fatal police shooting.

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COPA had ruled last December that a Chicago Police Officer who fatally shot a bat-wielding assailant was not justified. The FOP strongly denounced the ruling.

In response, the FOP instructed its attorneys to begin reviewing and researching the COPA investigation. Sure enough, in response to a FOIA, the agency revealed it had hired an outside law firm and paid more than $17,000 to a Boston based police official, Lieutenant Harrington. This third party law firm and Harrington were not mentioned in COPA’s final report on the shooting.

Now, the FOP has learned that COPA employed yet another outside investigator. In a motion filed on behalf of COPA’s attorneys in Cook County Circuit Court yesterday,  attorney Dan Noland wrote the following:

Counsel has been advised McGuire Woods retained a second consultant in connection with the shooting around the same time as Lt. Harrington; however, counsel has been advised that this second consultant never submitted an invoice or report to IPRA or McGuire Woods on this case. COPA asserts the consultant’s privilege as to this second consultant as well.

So now a third consultant was “retained” by an outside law firm working on behalf of COPA. A litany of questions now emerge. Why is COPA hiring outside parties to do their investigations? Why are they keeping their work out of their reports? Were the findings of these consultants included in the files COPA submitted to prosecutors and the Superintendent of Police?

And most of all: Where is the transparency COPA once promised to the public?

The emergence of yet another shadowy consultant not mentioned by COPA until the FOP filed a FOIA also calls into question the media coverage of the case. Why does a police union discover groundbreaking developments, but the media does not?

The FOP has questioned the relationship between COPA, as well as its predecessor IPRA, with the local media, alleging that COPA is using a biased local media to engineer public opinion about high-profile cases, including putting pressure on CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson to rule the shooting unjustified. The FOP called on the City’s Inspector General to investigate media leaks by the agency.

 

 

Grimm, Sun Times Soft Peddle Immigration Fight In Controversial Exoneration

Despite prosecutors, law firm saying they believe men are guilty, two once convicted killers may try to remain in the country...

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When the chips are down, the wrongful conviction industry can always rely on Andy Grimm and the Sun-Times.

This time the Sun-Times reporter goes to bat for a consortium of wrongful conviction law firms/schools that have worked hard to get two convicted killers declared “wrongfully convicted” and out of prison, even as the prosecutors who released them said they believed the men were guilty.

Welcome to Chicago.

Grimm delivers this time on an article about two men whose convictions for a 1998 double murder were vacated in December. The two men, Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes, were set free after prosecutors under Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx decided not to retry them. The men had won a new trial after their attorneys claimed they were coerced into confessing to the 1998 murders of Jacinta and Mariano Soto, who were repeatedly stabbed in their own apartment. According to prosecutors, the three offenders then kidnapped the Sotos’ children.

Reyes got life. Solache was sentenced to death but was saved from execution by Governor George Ryan, who ended the death penalty in Illinois in 2003 under pressure from the wrongful conviction crowd.

A third offender in the case, Adriana Mejia, who fingered them as co-offenders, remains in prison.

According to prosecutors’ theory in the trial, the couple was murdered in a bizarre plot by the three accused to kidnap their newborn child. Another child was also kidnapped.

Fortunately for the attorneys of the two men, they have a powerful ally in CCSA Kimberly Foxx and her top people, including Eric Sussman. Unlike her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, Foxx’s administration has bought into the police misconduct claims made against Guevara in several cases.

So it was of little surprise to law enforcement that after the judge tossed Solache’s and Reye’s confessions, based on the police misconduct theory, these prosecutors declined to retry the two men, at the same time admitting they believed they were likely guilty.

From the Chicago Tribune:

First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman said prosecutors still strongly believe Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes are guilty of the 1998 fatal stabbing of a couple in their Bucktown neighborhood home. . . .

If Sussman believed they were guilty, didn’t he have an obligation to retry them?

At the time of the murders, the men were in the United States illegally. So, amidst the media frenzy that attends every prison release of a “wrongfully convicted” person by Chicago journalists just like Andy Grimm, Solache and Reyes were reportedly whisked away by federal immigration officials before they could be released.

Talk about spoiling the wrongful conviction party.

The two have apparently been in federal custody ever since. But signs are emerging that their attorneys are finagling a way to allow them to either stay in the country or return.  

From Grimm’s article:

Solache may go free on $7,500 bond as soon as Friday, said Jessey Neves, spokeswoman for the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University. Immigration officials also appealed Reyes[’] request to voluntarily return to Mexico as soon as next week, said Vân B[.] Huynh, the immigration lawyer handling his case.

Solache no longer has family in the U.S., and intends to return voluntarily to Mexico after settling his affairs in the U.S., Daniel said. Neither man had yet attempted to use their long incarceration or the allegations of police abuse to qualify for a “U Visa,” which is legal resident status offered to immigrants who are crime victims.

Even Grimm can’t hide in his article the apparent tension in the federal agencies at the thought of Solache and Reyes staying in this country. But Grimm devotedly and obediently piles on the social justice rhetoric on behalf of the attorneys representing the once-convicted murderers.

At an immigration hearing this week in Chicago, officials presented the two confessions obtained by Guevara in 1992, as well as confessions from co-defendant Adriana Mejia and two witness statements, Huynh said. An immigration judge ruled that since the confessions had been ruled inadmissible, he would not consider them in weighing whether to grant bond.

In his article, Grimm grudgingly mentions that the prosecutors still thought the men were guilty of the murder. But he altogether ignores that the case was farmed out to a third-party law firm by the city for review.

And their conclusion?

“In fact, we have concluded that evidence available to us leads us to reject their claims of actual innocence.”

In other words, they concluded that the two men likely did ruthlessly and repeatedly stab a couple with a newborn baby and another child in their apartment, blood splattered even onto the walls.

Here’s something Grimm doesn’t discuss either, the last and most crucial stage in the wrongful conviction crusade from criminal to victimhood: the inevitable lawsuit and multimillion-dollar settlement against a city besieged with such claims, besieged in large part because of journalists like Andy Grimm. 

So before the rest of the country can weigh in, before the media outlets outside the borders of Chicago can dig into the magnitude of what may be truly taking shape in the Solache and Reyes saga, Grimm goes to work soft-peddling the chilling possibility that two men prosecutors still believe knifed a couple to death might remain in the country.

UPDATE: SOLACHE GETS OUT

Sun Times:

A man released from prison in December after serving nearly 20 years for a double-murder, only to land in an immigration detention facility, went free on bond Friday...Solache posted $7,500 bond and left the downtown Chicago Immigration Court building around noon. Reyes, who has agreed to voluntarily return to Mexico, still is in custody; ICE attorneys have said they intend to appeal his request to leave voluntarily, instead favoring a forced removal that would make it more difficult for Reyes to return to the United States legally someday.

 

Despite Prosecutor Saying Men Committed Murders, Attorney Says Firm Will Press Lawsuit

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Men were illegal aliens at the time of murders...

On Monday a Chicago attorney said that his law firm intends to file a lawsuit on behalf of two men whose conviction for a double murder was vacated last year, even though prosecutors said they believed the men are guilty of the murders.

From the Chicago Tribune:

First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman said prosecutors still strongly believe Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes are guilty of the 1998 fatal stabbing of a couple in their Bucktown neighborhood home. . . .

Nevertheless, Loevy & Loevy attorney Steven Art said Monday that his law firm intends to file a lawsuit on behalf of both men, illegal aliens at the time of the murders, before they leave the country to be sent back to their native Mexico.

Not only did prosecutors say that they believed Solache and Reyes were guilty, a third-party re-investigation of the cases by the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP also bolstered the guilt of the two men.

From their report:

“In fact, we have concluded that evidence available to us leads us to reject their claims of actual innocence.”

The case could ignite renewed debates about sanctuary cities and the prevalence of crime by illegal aliens because Solache and Reyes, along with a woman named Adriana Mejia, were convicted of murdering Jacinta and Mariano Soto in 1998 by repeatedly stabbing the couple in their own apartment. Blood from Jacinta Soto was found on the wall five feet away from her body. According to prosecutors, the three offenders then kidnapped the Sotos’ children.

Reyes got life. Solache was sentenced to death but was saved from execution by Governor George Ryan, who ended the death penalty in Illinois in 2003 under pressure from the wrongful conviction crowd.

A lawsuit against the city by the men and their attorneys at Loevy & Loevy could become a public relations nightmare for the city, as sources indicate that both men may also be angling to obtain a visa that would allow them back into the country, possibly as part of their legal crusade.

Where would they stay? For how long?

Not since Madison Hobley was exonerated in 2003 from death row for an arson that killed seven—another case Loevy & Loevy worked on—has the city seen such a bizarre turnabout in a wrongful conviction case: Two men serving life sentences for a double murder and kidnapping, freed from prison even though a prosecutor said he thought they were guilty, filing a lawsuit, and then, perhaps, coming back into the country.

The case could also cast a dark shadow on Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx’s administration. The reason is that her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, stood by Guevara and the convictions.

“We don’t feel these guys are innocent guys,” prosecutor Fabio Valentini said about the Guevara cases under the Alvarez administration.

But within weeks of Kimberly Foxx taking over the prosecutor’s office after defeating Alvarez in the election, the state’s attorney did an about-face. Rather than back the Guevara cases as Alvarez did, Foxx began siding against the detective. She walked away from the convictions of two men in another Guevara case, both of whom were released from prison.

Foxx then forced Guevara to testify in the Solache/Reyes case, imposing a deeply suspicious “immunity” on Guevara that undermined his right to plead the Fifth. Guevara’s attorney cried foul, saying that his client was being put in a “perjury trap.”

According to the website Illinois Sunshine, Arthur Loevy donated $20,000 to Friends of Foxx in February 2016.

Her current director of Policy, Research and Development, Katie Hill, is also a former employee at Loevy & Loevy.

Is there a conflict of interest in the prosecutor’s office?

And then there is the Chicago media. The media is often accused by police officers and the FOP of a powerful bias in favor of wrongful conviction claims. The bias may be rearing itself again, for the media relentlessly covered the Solache and Reyes case when their attorneys and supporters were alleging misconduct against retired detective Guevara, but have gone silent about the two men possibly coming back into the country and filing their lawsuit against the city. 

Another Hinkel, Tribune Narrative Takes A Nosedive...

Tribune reporter Dan Hinkel’s coverage of a 2015 police shooting is beginning to resemble the paper’s disgraced coverage of many wrongful conviction cases.

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Hinkel has broken several “scoops” about a 2015 shooting in which a Chicago Police officer shot a bat-wielding assailant, accidentally killing a woman as well. All of Hinkel’s scoops about the incident and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) investigation of it cast a negative light on the police officer involved, including Hinkel’s coverage of the ruling by COPA that the shooting was unjustified.

That ruling by the COPA in December was immediately condemned by the Fraternal Order of Police.

Sensing something highly unfair and inappropriate was taking place in the COPA ruling, the FOP authorized its attorneys to dig into the COPA investigation. The FOP also notified the city’s Inspector General’s office that there was a pattern of leaks from COPA and its predecessor, IPRA, to reporters like Hinkel. These leaks, if true, not only violate COPA’s rules of confidentiality, but also make it appear as if the agency is using “friendly” reporters to push their claims against the police.

But this is nothing new at the Tribune. Much of the paper’s coverage over the last three decades is rooted in their championing a host of cases in which guilty men claimed they were innocent. With the cheering of the Tribune, many of these offenders were released, claiming they were coerced, even tortured, into confessing to crimes they did not commit. Would these men have been released without the incessant drumbeat of reporters maintaining that they were the victims of police misconduct?

But about ten years ago, the narratives began to unravel. Now, a vast body of evidence is taking shape in various legal and media venues pointing to the fact that these stories are completely false, beginning with the exoneration of Anthony Porter from death row in 1999, an exoneration that spurred dozens of others.

The Tribune’s bolstering of these narratives, and then its reaction when they began to fall apart, is a dark chapter in the viability and integrity of Chicago’s media. It points to a news outlet embracing a story before obtaining the facts and evaluating them. It points to a news outlet ignoring key evidence to maintain that narrative, and it points to a news outlet wholly unwilling to acknowledge that it got a story completely wrong.

Is this what is taking shape in Hinkel’s coverage of the 2015 fatal police shooting?

Well, it didn’t take long for the attorneys to find something unusual. In response to a Freedom of Information request, the FOP discovered that COPA had paid an outside party in connection with its investigation of the shooting, a Boston Police lieutenant who seems to have expertise in police shootings. 

Curiously, no mention of this person or any observations, rulings, or opinions he might have had about the incident was made in COPA’s final report. Even more curious, no mention of this third party was ever made by Dan Hinkel.

All the scoops Hinkel got in the story—but not this scoop about a third party.

It begs a question. Is Hinkel writing his story from a preconceived narrative, just as the Tribune seems to have done in so many wrongful conviction cases? Look at Hinkel’s list of stories for the last few months on the Trib website. They are almost uniformly anti-police, as if Hinkel, and many of his colleagues at the Trib, seem to think that a primary function of the media is a relentless attack on the criminal justice system, particularly the police.

Well, here are two grand questions that must be asked in the wake of the discovery of the third party’s involvement in the COPA investigation. If COPA left out any information about a third party in their final report, did they also leave it out of the file submitted to the Superintendent of Police, who must rule on whether the officer will be fired based upon COPA’s claim that the shooting was unjustified?

The fate of the officer involved in the shooting now hinges on a decision by the Superintendent of the CPD. COPA was mandated to provide that entire file to the Superintendent.

Well, did they? 

Here’s what the Superintendent said in a letter, according to Hinkel’s competitor, the Sun Times:

“Despite the fact that COPA informed the media of its final opinion, CPD has not received the entire file. I am requesting that COPA confirm that CPD has everything that COPA consulted or relied upon in rendering its opinion in this matter and ask that COPA provide every document that is relevant to this investigation, including but not limited to exhibits, witness interviews, videos and expert reports,” Johnson wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Got that? A letter obtained by the Sun Times. Not by Dan Hinkel.

Equally important, did COPA submit whatever opinion, input, or report this third party may have made to the Cook County State’s Attorney when prosecutors reviewed the case to determine whether the officer would be charged?

If COPA failed to do so in either case, there is indeed a scandal brewing at the agency less than a year into its inception. And there is yet another dark cloud forming over the Dan Hinkel and the Chicago Tribune.

Will Hinkel look into these key aspects of the case, or will he react as Tribune columnist Eric Zorn did in 2005 after a civil trial over the Anthony Porter exoneration not only vindicated the detectives who had been so badly maligned by the Tribune, but also proved once again that the Tribune’s claims of Porter being innocent of a vicious double murder were complete hogwash?

After that verdict, Zorn, who reportedly never even bothered to hear the evidence in the trial, nevertheless angrily declared that Porter was innocent. Zorn wrote a column the next day angrily attacking the detectives’ attorney, who said after the trial that Porter was the killer.

Imagine that. A journalist doesn’t even bother looking at all the evidence before declaring people innocent and guilty. Is this what journalism has become in Chicago?

Well, is it, Hinkel?

FOIA Reveals Third Party Involved in COPA Investigation of Police Shooting

Chicago, IL, January 23, 2018-The City agency that conducts investigations into allegations of police misconduct paid more than $17,000 to an outside party as part of the agency’s investigation of a controversial 2015 fatal police shooting, the FOP has learned.

Attorneys working on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police obtained documents in a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request indicating that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) paid a Boston based police lieutenant in connection with the agency’s investigation of a 2015 police shooting in which two people died.

In December, COPA ruled that the shooting was not justified. The FOP denounced the ruling and advised its attorneys to review COPA’s investigation. The FOP also requested that the City’s Inspector General investigate what the FOP claimed was a pattern of suspicious media leaks of confidential information about the agency’s investigations to various news outlets, including the Chicago Tribune.

According to the records submitted by COPA, the agency paid Lt. Robert Harrington from the Boston Police Department through the Chicago law firm of McGuire Woods LLP.

The role of the law firm and Harrington’s services rendered were not described in COPA’s final report, raising questions. What did the law firm and Harrington provide COPA in the investigation? What, if any, conclusions or opinions did they submit?

According to the documents obtained by the FOP in the FOIA, Harrington met with COPA personnel several times in April and May of 2016, mostly to “review case materials.”

Lt. Harrington and an attorney from McGuire Woods declined to comment on their role in the agency’s investigation of the shooting. COPA personnel did not respond to numerous requests for comment. 

First Police Killer, Now Child Murder Case

Even most police officers don’t know that the reason convicted cop killer Jackie Wilson may be released from prison is due to a bizarre state agency created almost a decade ago, called the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC).

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Once created to investigate claims of torture by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men, TIRC now gives authority to a collection of unelected officials to overturn any criminal conviction they see fit in Cook County.

It was this commission that arbitrarily ruled that Wilson’s claims that he was abused during his arrest for the murders of Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien in February 1982 should merit another hearing.

Only in Chicago.

TIRC is kind of a perfect symbol of how the corrupt becomes legitimate in Chicago, how the once sacred notion of being judged by one’s peers is tossed aside as a mere inconvenience in deference to the whims of the ruling faction.

That TIRC can exist would come as no surprise to seasoned cops, who filled the gallery of the Jackie Wilson hearing on Tuesday—complete with reporters glowing at the prospect of another “wrongful conviction” and attorneys beaming at the possible new revenue stream that Wilson’s liberation might afford.

But just a day after the hearing in which Wilson and his attorneys presented their case in front of Cook County Judge William Hooks, TIRC was at it again, this time debating whether they should reinvestigate claims of police misconduct by Rodrigo Rodriquez, convicted of murdering his five-month-old daughter Angelina.

It was a chilling, despicable, woefully misguided, and misinformed discussion by a group of attorneys that could obviously not negotiate the simplest of crime scenes.

The background of the case from the Sun-Times:

[Rodriguez and his wife, Angela Petrov,] were listening to music and drinking a combination of Hennessy, Sprite and Red Bull in their West Rogers Park home in the 2500 block of West Fitch when Angelina interrupted them with her cries, Assistant State’s Attorney Megan Mulay said.

Petrov initially took her youngest child out of her playpen, but then Rodriguez took Angelina and covered her mouth three times for 30-second intervals as the baby gasped for air.

Petrov told Rodriguez that “something bad was going to happen” and that what he was doing was “dangerous,” according to court testimony. But instead of checking on Angelina after Rodriguez put her “limp” body back into the playpen, the couple had sex and fell asleep, prosecutors said.

 That’s right. After they smothered their child, they had sex.

Guess what Rodriquez did a few days earlier.

The Sun-Times again:

Just two days before Rodriguez attacked Angelina, he beat Petrov so badly she suffered broken teeth and lacerations, the defense attorney said. Like most battered women, Petrov often misrepresented the source of her injuries, he explained.

Rodriguez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 85 years in prison.

So, before Rodriguez murdered his child, he savagely beat his wife.

Other news outlets report that the couple was being investigated by DCFS for abuse of another child.

Initially, TIRC Executive Director Robert Olmstead recommended that the commission should not take up the claims of abuse by Area North detectives against Rodriguez. Rodriguez said he was held more than forty-eight hours, was told by a detective that he should think about committing suicide, and was denied a lawyer.

But then one of the commissioners, Craig Futterman, chimed in. Futterman, a law professor from the University of Chicago, is one of the most vocal police critics in the city. He has signed on to a lawsuit against the city calling for a consent decree for what he and Black Lives Matter members claim is chronic misconduct and racism in the police department.

Black Lives Matter? What next?

Rodriguez’s complaints should generate more investigation, Futterman argued.

Futterman reveals not only his bias, but the power of TIRC to give life to it. With guys like Futterman at TIRC, no conviction, no matter how heinous, no investigation, no matter how routine, is safe. The entire criminal justice system is at risk.

 

Graham Calls For Investigation Of COPA Over Media Leaks...

Saying media leaks are clearly a violation of strict rules of confidentiality, FOP President Kevin Graham sent a letter to City Inspector General Joe Ferguson calling for an investigation into the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA).

Graham stated that there is compelling evidence that members of COPA are leaking information on confidential investigations to reporters.

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