The Watch

News and Information for Chicago FOP members.

Graham Calls For Meeting, Says Officers Now In Danger

Many Dire Situations Can Result, Graham argues...

Chicago-- (April 23, 2018) FOP President Kevin Graham today requested a meeting with the Superintendent to clarify when and how police officers will be disciplined for using force.

 Click to See Entire Letter

Click to See Entire Letter

The request comes in the wake of a decision by Chicago Police Board member Eva-Dina Delgado, who ruled last Thursday to uphold a decision by the police civilian oversight agency, COPA, that the 2015 shooting of Quintonio LeGrier by Officer Robert Rialmo was unjustified. Le Grier was wielding a bat and charging at Rialmo when he fired. Another victim, Bettie Jones, was also fatally shot as a result of LeGrier’s actions.

The FOP has strongly denounced the ruling as another example that COPA is conducting biased, unprofessional investigations, going back to when the agency was called IPRA. Superintendent Eddie Johnson has ruled the shooting justified, as has a Use of Force expert hired by a law firm to defend the City in a civil lawsuit over the case. The FOP also uncovered evidence that COPA employed third-party investigators in their investigation of the shooting, but kept these investigators secret from their final report, from prosecutors, and from Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

By violating the Use of Force guidelines in their rulings, COPA and the police board have placed officers and the public in danger, President Graham argued in his letter.

 “Because of this decision by COPA and the board’s decision to uphold it, the City has abandoned the Use of Force model that police officers employ in the execution of their duties. The COPA and police board ruling, therefore, places our officers in a tenuous, dangerous position, as well as members of the public, as officers do not know if they will be disciplined for using appropriate levels of force. Many dire situations can result,” President Graham said in his letter. 

Bartlett to Lightfoot: Let's See All The Evidence

The Co-Chair of the FOP Legal Defense Committee has sent a letter to the head of the Chicago Police Board demanding a full release of all documents by the city’s police civilian oversight agency regarding an investigation of a 2015 fatal police shooting.

FOP Field Rep Robert Bartlett sent a letter to the president of the Chicago Police Board, Lori Lightfoot, demanding that all records and findings related to a police shooting involving Officer Robert Rialmo be included in a board member’s decision on whether the shooting was justified.

Officer Rialmo, responding to a domestic disturbance call, shot Quintonio LeGrier and a bystander, Bettie Jones, as LeGrier wielded a bat and charged at Rialmo. COPA ruled the shooting unjustified, but CPD Superintendent Johnson rejected the finding, saying it was justified. The FOP has denounced the ruling by COPA.

Now the matter is before a member of the Chicago Police Board.

After COPA made the controversial ruling, FOP attorney Tim Grace discovered through a Freedom of Information request that COPA had kept third parties that had been hired by the agency in the course of their investigation hidden. The presence and findings of these third parties were not included in COPA's report, nor were they revealed to prosecutors or to the Superintendent.

“The failure of COPA to make known these outside parties and their conclusions is an egregious violation of Officer Rialmo’s rights and calls into question the legitimacy of the investigation against him,” Barlett wrote in the letter. “The Chicago Police Board member now reviewing the case is obligated to take into consideration any findings of these parties and make them public. A failure to do so would only magnify what we believe is a sinister investigation that has taken shape against Officer Rialmo.”

A decision is expected as early as tomorrow, April 19, at the Chicago Police Board meeting. 

Another Lawsuit Filed in Wrongful Conviction Claim...

Tribune Reporter Jason Meisner Selling Out To the Wrongful Conviction Movement Again?

An inmate released in 2017 by Cook County Prosecutor Kimberly Foxx has filed a lawsuit against the city. 

And once again, the reporting on the “wrongful conviction” by Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner falls far short.

This exoneration saga claims that Adam Gray is innocent of a 1993 arson that killed two people when Gray was fourteen. From Meisner’s article:

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Police and prosecutors had alleged that at the time of the fire, Gray was angry with a girl who lived in a two-flat in the 4100 block of South Albany Avenue because she had rejected him. The eighth-grader ignited an accelerant he poured on the enclosed back porch on the second floor and the stairs, according to investigators at the time. While the girl and her parents escaped, the second-floor tenants, Peter McGuiness, 54, and his sister, Margaret Mesa, 74, died.

Meisner’s own article would compel any reasonable person to furrow their brow at his declaration that Gray is “wrongfully convicted” based on the claim of police misconduct.

Consider these little tidbits.

First, the claim is that seven police detectives would, according to Meisner’s article, conspire to frame a fourteen-year-old child for a double murder.  And it’s not just the detectives named as defendants:

Named in the 54-page lawsuit are seven former Chicago police detectives — five of whom are deceased. The defendants also include a former police officer, a former Chicago youth officer, a retired Cook County assistant state’s attorney and a former fire marshal.

That’s a lot of people. Perhaps Meisner and the Tribune, would, as a sign of their commitment to “independent journalism,” point out exactly how all these people got together and decided to pin the murder on Gray, then concoct a story about it, and then agree to get him to confess. The moving parts of such a conspiracy would be significant. Perhaps Meisner would shed some light on how it took shape?

Then consider this sentence:

A gas station clerk said Gray bought gas shortly before the fire.

How compelling. A fourteen-year-old kid was buying gas right before an arson he later confessed to? Did the detectives convince a clerk to join in on their conspiracy to frame a kid, or was it just a happy accident that a gas station clerk came forward to finger Gray at the same time detectives were working to frame him?

And then there is this compelling little tidbit:

But months later, Cook County Judge Angela Petrone denied a new trial, unconvinced that Gray’s lawyers produced enough evidence for a jury to acquit him. In a lengthier written ruling, she cited Gray’s confession and testimony by two alleged eyewitnesses.

So a judge looked at the evidence brought forth by Gray’s attorneys and denied a new trial? Looks like Judge Petrone didn’t get the Meisner memo that Gray was "wrongfully convicted."

Meisner then reaches into ancient history to draw parallels from Gray’s wrongful conviction claim to a case in Texas in which his paper argued that an innocent man may have been executed for an arson he did not commit:

Many convictions have been set aside, including the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas in 2004 for setting a fire that killed his three young daughters.

 A Tribune investigation of the case that year showed that Willingham’s conviction was based on faulty science. A state forensic science commission in Texas later agreed that the conviction was flawed, but Willingham’s prosecutor still stands by the conviction.

Texas? There are a lot more compelling cases in Chicago’s own bastion of wrongful conviction history that might be more applicable to Meisner’s article, that might be just as worthy as background to the story.

How about the exoneration of Madison Hobley in 2003 for a 1987 arson that killed seven? Two witnesses saw Hobley purchase gas at a nearby station shortly before his apartment building went up in flames and seven people died, just as Meisner lists a store clerk observed Gray purchasing gasoline.

That case has generated new scrutiny, not as a wrongful conviction but as a possible wrongful exoneration. Here’s one reason. One of those witnesses in the Hobley case came forward years later and stated under oath that he was offered a bribe to change his testimony. Not even a sentence from Meisner about this case right in Chicago’s backyard?

Not even a sentence about other wrongful conviction claims that are blowing up in the courts with allegations of bribed witnesses, female students dressing provocatively to entice statements from witnesses? Just one sentence, Meisner?

And here’s the real heart of the story that Meisner ignores:

Gray’s attorneys filed an appeal shortly after, and State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office agreed to dismiss the charges, although the office did not weigh in on whether he was actually innocent of the crime.

Foxx tossed the conviction without articulating whether her office thought Gray was innocent or guilty. How’s that for a prosecutor protecting the public?

Foxx’s epidemic of releasing convicted killers on the highly suspicious claims of police misconduct is the real story in Chicago. 

Recently, for example, Foxx’s administration refused to retry two men, Arturo Reyes and Gabriel Solache, convicted in the stabbing deaths of a couple in 1998. Foxx’s right-hand man, Eric Sussman, stated that the two men would not be retried even though his office still believed the men were guilty.

Foxx also released two other convicted men, Roberto Almodovar Jr. and Jose Juan Maysonet Jr.

They have filed civil lawsuits in U.S. District Court.

Former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez fiercely fought overturning Aldomovar’s conviction. But Foxx’s office did a 180. Once again, Foxx let him out.

The tactics of the Foxx administration have put Chicago Police detectives in a trick bag. Constantly buying the statements of convicted killers and their associates over the claims of police detectives, the detectives heed the advice of their lawyers and take the Fifth. Foxx and the wrongful conviction attorneys then argue that taking the Fifth is a sign that detectives may be guilty or prevents prosecutors from retrying the case.

After the offenders are released, they file multimillion-dollar lawsuits. One wonders: How much of the settlement money in those cases will find its way back to the Foxx reelection campaign funding?

And at the core of it is a cabal of journalists like Jason Meisner, working as more of a public relations spokesperson for the law firms alleging police misconduct than a reporter interested in getting at the truth.

Man Sentenced in Brutal Attack

From CWB, a blog covering crime in Chicago better than any other news outlet:

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Police said Taylor, Towbridge, and Ruff decided to burglarize 77-year-old Joanne Signa’s home in the 3600 block of North Magnolia at random. It was just one of several burglaries the crew is suspected of committing in Wrigleyville and nearby Lakeview during the winter of 2015-2016.

After kicking in her rear door, the three confronted Signa in her bedroom and beat her until she lost consciousness, police said. Then they allegedly loaded her car with stolen goods and drove away.

 

Towbridge was on parole at the time for a weapons violation.

Read More...

 

FOP Slams Focus Groups, Data Gathering on Consent Decree

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Recent attempts by the City and the Illinois Attorney General to gather information from police officers about a proposed consent decree may be illegal, according the Fraternal Order of Police.

This week, the Lodge became aware of a Bureau of Patrol order entitled “Police Foundation Focus Groups.”  These focus groups are being conducted at Chicago Police Headquarters by a company named the Police Foundation.  The order does not specifically state the subject(s) that the focus group will address, but the Lodge has learned that the group will focus on a proposed consent decree. 

Because attendance is mandatory, Lodge attorneys have recommended that FOP members attend, but refrain from participation in any dialog at this meeting. 

The Lodge has also become aware of a message from CPD Research and Development that directs FOP members to a website for feedback and suggestions regarding a consent decree proposed by the Illinois Attorney General's Office.  The information garnered from Officer responses will be compiled by the National Police Foundation.

Lodge attorneys have advised members that these are illegal attempts to gain information from our members.  FOP attorneys strongly advise that FOP members do not participate in this web-based survey. 

Neither the City nor the Attorney General’s office informed the Lodge of these new policies, imposed before a consent decree has even been established.

In March, the City and the Attorney General negotiated an agreement with third-parties who also filed lawsuits to impose to the consent decree, including Black Lives Matter.

From the Sun Times:

Black Lives Matter and a coalition of other community groups have won a seat at the table as the city of Chicago and the state attorney general's office hash out a consent decree that would guide reforms to the troubled Chicago Police Department.

 The agreement makes Chicago and Illinois the first government entities to allow Black Lives Matter entrance into the negotiation room of a major metropolitan police department.

The agreement with BLM and the attempts by the City to form focus groups comes in the wake of a report claiming that police reform measures may already be costing lives and could backfire on the city.

A report issued last month by two researches at the University of Utah, for example, placed the blame for a sharp increase in murders in 2016 squarely on the shoulders of an agreement between the ACLU and the City.

 

FOP Statement on Chicago Magazine Article "The Stairwell"

The FOP and its members are shocked and saddened at the naïveté and bias of the article “The Stairwell” in Chicago Magazine. It betrays a striking ignorance of the criminal mind and callousness for the victims of violent crime. It was ill-timed, self-indulgent, and cruel in the manner it went out of the way to find excuses for the travesty the offender made of his own life.

Sadly, this article is representative of the bias and pretentiousness that permeates the Chicago media. But coming as it did so recently in the wake of Commander Bauer’s cold-blooded murder, it is a particularly glaring example of just how intense is the antipathy in the local media toward law enforcement.

It is the police who protect the most vulnerable members of society day in and day out, regardless of their race or class. Commander Paul Bauer was a shining example of this courage and devotion to duty.

He and his family remain in our thoughts and prayers, and always will. 

Time For Eric Zorn To Take The Stand?

By now it is a lot more than a small group of men who have a clear understanding of the devastation wrought upon the criminal justice system and its servants in the travesty of the Porter case. The reason is that Alvarez released Simon from prison in 2014. In doing so, she assailed the conduct of Protess and Ciolino. Later, Simon’s lawyers filed a $40 million lawsuit against Ciolino, Protess, and Northwestern University.

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Federal Officials Tired Of Being Out Foxxed?

In response, the Fraternal Order of Police has reached out to federal officials to keep them apprised of the case and take actions to prevent the men from remaining in the country. A few weeks ago, FOP President Kevin Graham traveled to Washington, DC, to meet with President Trump and a group of federal officials to discuss the issue of sanctuary cities.

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Attorney: Superintendent Rules Police Shooting Justified

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An attorney representing an officer accused of an unjustified fatal shooting in 2015 says Superintendent Eddie Johnson has ruled the shooting justified.

Joel Brodsky, attorney for Robert Rialmo, who shot a bat-wielding youth after responding to a domestic disturbance call, said Johnson “totally rejected COPA’s findings and has stated that Officer Rialmo was justified in shooting Quintonio LeGrier in self-defense.”