The Watch

News and Information for Chicago FOP members.

FOP Attacks Settlement in Englewood Four Case...

FOP Second Vice President Martin Preib addresses the Finance Committee of City Council for the proposed settlement of $30 million in the Englewood Four Case...

Update: Detective Speaks Out to Alderman

Retire CPD Sergeant Sends Message to Aldermen: 

Dear Alderman Osterman and Sposato,

I am one of the Detectives that was assigned to the Englewood 4. I have attached the testimony of Terrell Swift from his initial trial for your review. Please note how in his own words how the police treated him fine. Also please note how  his knowledge of the murder first appeared. I can also provide additional transcripts that show how his allegations of police misconduct escalate after meetings with civil attorneys. I can tell you with absolute certainty  that this settlement is a travesty of justice.  The police department cannot build relationships with the community when they are accused falsely. I submit to you that these settlements give the appearance of truth to these accusations and further erode the trust that our City desperately needs.  These allegations against me and the police are patently false. I can no longer stand by and watch this in silence.  

The reason I am sending this to both of you is based upon your comments cited in the media.

Kenny Boudreau

FOP President Condemns City On Body Camera Roll Out

President Kevin Graham today condemned the City’s implementation of body cameras while the issue is still being contested with the State Labor Board.


“It is disappointing that the City of Chicago has decided to be proud of rolling out body cameras to all beat officers a year ahead of schedule. We have filed an Unfair Labor Practice over the impact of the cameras to our officers. In implementing this program while the issue is still being contested, the City has disregarded the contract, Labor law, and the concerns of Chicago officers,” Graham said.

“The Fraternal Order of Police was told that this was only a pilot program. As soon as we had the hearing for the Unfair Labor Practice, the city sped up their plans, so they could have the cameras in every district before the Labor Board had a chance to rule.


This matter needed to be brought to the negotiating table so that we could negotiate the terms and conditions by which the records are made, maintained, and made available to our members.

 

While our officers continue to work and negotiate professionally, the City of Chicago should do the same. While our officers will continue to work professionally in keeping the public safe, we are nevertheless very disappointed.”

Journalism Or Advocacy?

But here’s the problem. Kalven’s predicament is eerily familiar to other high-profile cases alleging police misconduct in which confidential information was released. Each of these cases bolstered a narrative of police misconduct. Chicago journalists appear palpably nervous about Kalven being called to testify.

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FOP Responds To Biss Twitter Post

On November 24th, the following was posted on a Twitter account listed for Senator and candidate for Governor, Daniel Biss.

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A Fraternal Order of Police spokesman made several attempts to contact Mr. Biss about this post, but no one returned any messages. The FOP sent the following letter to Biss (click image to read entire letter). 

 

 

Sun Times Tactics Under Fire In Death Investigation

The Sun-Times is running with an ongoing story suggesting foul play in the death of a Chicago police sergeant and a possible cover-up in the investigation.

It’s a complex story that the two Sun-Times investigative reporters Tim Novak and Robert Herguth are spinning, involving the deaths of a married couple, both of whom were members of the Chicago Police Department.

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A recent Sun-Times editorial picked up the story about the deaths of Dina and Don Markham, saying there are nine unanswered questions about the case. But perhaps there is a tenth question the Sun-Times should address: Did the media go too far in pursuing this story?

This possibility may be suggested in Novak’s and Herguth’s own articles.

Here are the basic facts of the case in the Sun-Times editorial:

On Sept. 2, 2015, Officer Donald Markham died from a bullet wound to his head. Twenty-one months later, on May 28 of this year, his wife and fellow officer, Dina Markham, was found dead in her bathtub. Both died in the couple’s Far Northwest Side home.

According to reports, Dina Markham said she found her husband dead from an apparent suicide after the two argued earlier that evening. The suicide of a spouse after an argument would be a devastating experience for anyone.

Then, two years later, reporters suddenly show up at her door.

From a Sun-Times article:

On May 22, Sun-Times reporters went to Dina Markham’s house . . .

Showing up at officers’ homes is a fairly unusual phenomenon in Chicago. Most media inquiries are made through the police department, who then contact the department member. In such a delicate, tragic event like an apparent suicide, wouldn’t this be the best way to handle the investigation?

But it wasn’t just the reporters showing up. They also dropped a bomb on Dina Markham. They told her an FBI investigation was under way about her husband’s death.

From the Sun-Times:

On May 22, Sun-Times reporters went to Dina Markham’s house and asked whether she was aware the FBI and inspector general were looking into her husband’s death. She said she wasn’t aware.

So already dealing with her husband’s death, two reporters show up out of nowhere and tell Dina Markham that she is being investigated by the FBI. The actions of the Sun-Times reporters shocked CPD members in its callousness.

Talk about being blindsided.

From the Sun-Times again:

“I’d like to talk to you, but I’m not sure it’s in my best interest,” she said. “Give me a day to process this.”

Not content with their first journalistic foray to Dina Markham’s house, they returned.

The Sun-Times again:

The reporters returned on May 24, and she said she still needed to talk with “some people.”

“I have to protect myself,” she said. “I have to protect my children. That’s what this is all about.”

The following day, Friday, Dina Markham sent an email saying, “In respect for the way you approached me, a friend of a friend will be in contact with you. I am unsure who that will be at this time, but he assured me he will follow through. My family and I have been through very difficult times, and it has been awful especially for my children. Should you proceed in writing a news story, I would appreciate a ‘heads-up’ to prepare them.”

Then, a few days later, Dina herself would be found dead in her bathtub.

From the Tribune:

On the day she was found dead in the bathtub of her Northwest Side home, Chicago police Officer Dina Markham sent a desperate, predawn text message to a friend.

“Help. Please . . . no kidding,” read the message sent just after 4 a.m. on May 28, according to investigative reports made public Monday. . . .

Autopsy reports provided to the Tribune on Monday show the Cook County medical examiner's office has ruled Markham, 47, died of an accidental drowning after consuming a dangerous mix of alcohol and the powerful anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, commonly sold under the brand name Xanax.

Here is the tenth question the Sun-Times did not ask in their editorial, but should have: Couldn’t there have been a better way to handle their “investigation” without employing such shock tactics as arriving unannounced at her home and telling her the FBI was looking at her?

Reeling from the death of the two coworkers and the tactics of the Sun-Times reporters at a time when there is a sharp increase in police suicides, the FOP demanded in a letter to the editor that the paper cease and desist from the practice of going to the homes of police officers.

The Sun-Times assailed the request.

The tenets of journalism, especially investigative journalism, call for reporters to interview the people they’re writing about to get their sides of the story.

Incredible.

The Sun-Times, particularly Novak and Herguth, have a lot of theories and questions about the death and investigation of Sergeant Markham. Much of it is riding on the conclusions drawn from the FBI investigation into the case.

The FBI says it can’t comment, can’t even reveal if the investigation is concluded.

In attacking the FOP’s demand of a cease and desist, the Sun-Times announced in an editorial to let the reporters do their job.

If the FBI investigation reveals no foul play in the death of Don Markham, the only reply may be: Haven’t you done enough already? 

Graham Calls On Aldermen To Support Police Hiring In Budget

As violent crime remains high throughout the city and manpower remains low, FOP President Kevin Graham strongly criticized aldermen who voted against a city budget that included hiring more police officers.

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Graham’s statement comes in the wake of a city budget that included the hiring of 1,000 more officers but was opposed by four aldermen, among them Alderman John Arena from the 45th Ward.

While hiring 1,000 police officers would still not be enough, Graham said that the increased hiring of police officers was a step in the right direction for the city and the department.

“Our officers have their days off canceled, and we are still short. We are not keeping up with retirements and normal attrition rates. Alderman like Arena should be supporting the hiring of more manpower,” Graham said.

Arena’s lack of support for a budget that includes an increase in police hiring is particularly strange given the fact that so many officers live in Arena’s district, Graham said. Arena has no record of supporting an increase in police hiring through other means or through another budget proposal.

Arena is also facing strong criticism from constituents, as well as another alderman, for a 100-unit mixed-income apartment complex at 5150 N. Northwest Highway.

Nevertheless, with so many police officers in his district and crime rates so high, Graham said that Arena should explain why he didn’t support the budget or put forth a plan to put more police officers on the street. 

A Christmas Prayer...

This much: If there is one certainty in Chicago right now, one absolute truth, it is that there will be no further investigation into the Nicole Harris case by the local media whatsoever. Nothing. Reporters like Jason Meisner, Megan Crepeau, Dan Hinkel, Andy Grimm, Tim Novak, or anyone else in Chicago media will not get to the bottom of whether Nicole Harris strangled to death her own son, Jaquari Dancy.

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Bombshell Verdict Answers Why Police Take The Fifth...

The Harris case was a relatively routine murder investigation with the offender spontaneously confessing.  Nevertheless, the entire criminal justice system turned on the detectives and threw them under the bus. The prosecutor betrayed them twice, the judge who issued the Certificate of Innocence betrayed them, and, of course, the media, who reflexively echoed the claims of Harris’s wrongful conviction attorneys, betrayed the detectives. Clearly the jury in the trial saw things the media never did.

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Has The Zorn Campaign Begun?

Has Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn’s desperate campaign begun? 

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The question arises in the wake of a Friday column by Zorn that took the form of a memo to Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx. In this column Zorn scolded Foxx, reminding Foxx that she was elected to right the wrongs of Foxx’s predecessor, Anita Alvarez. 

Here’s what Zorn wrote:

If we’d wanted a top prosecutor who dragged her feet on apparent wrongful convictions and stubbornly refused to heed the demands of justice, we would have re-elected Anita Alvarez.You ran as a reformer against Alvarez in the March 2016 Democratic primary, reminding voters that “trust in our criminal justice system has been broken” and promising fairer outcomes.

To right these so-called wrongs, Zorn argues that Foxx’s hesitancy to release two convicted killers, claiming they were wrongfully convicted, was a betrayal of Foxx’s promise to restore justice that had escaped Cook County under the leadership of Alvarez. 

But like so many claims of Eric Zorn, a slight review of the case and some basic questions suggest that releasing these two men without a thorough, unbiased review would be a betrayal of the public trust. 

Wrongful conviction lawyers are claiming that Nevest Coleman and Darryl Fulton should be released from prison for the vicious 1994 rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman, Antwinica Bridgeman, because new DNA tests from the victim not available at the time of the crime pointed to another person, a serial rapist. 

This, says Zorn and his wrongful conviction buddies, makes the case a wrongful conviction. Foxx should, therefore, let them out as a sign she is committed to “justice.” Not so fast, though. The location of the body, witness statements, and the confessions of the offenders all weigh heavily toward the men being guilty.

Hasn’t Zorn made such claims about murderers being innocent that have fallen apart under renewed scrutiny? 

The truth is that many people closely associated with the case believe Coleman and Fulton are guilty and argue that the DNA test merely indicates that it is not the men’s DNA. A host of scenarios could explain the presence of the DNA on the victim from another person other than Fulton and Coleman, and the two men are still culpable in Bridgeman’s murder. 

Like so many of Zorn’s wrongful conviction claims, some simple questions and observations cast powerful doubt on his claims, and, perhaps, his motives. 

In true Zornian tradition, Zorn soft-peddles the crime itself. Zorn tells his readers that Bridgeman’s body was “mutilated.” Yes, it was. Bridgeman was impaled through the vagina and her teeth were recovered in her stomach. A concrete block was found in her mouth that caused her to suffocate. These details provide a glimpse of the “mutilation” that took place.

Detailed information about the cruelty of such crimes is important not only because they paint a true and chilling picture of what the victims endured in their last moments of their life, but also because they help undermine the claims of police misconduct often later made by Zorn and his wrongful conviction allies. 

And remember, the men confessed, a confession that withstood the criminal investigation and the trial. 

Attorney Walter Jones, who defended detectives in Anthony Porter civil lawsuit, criticizes Tribune columnist Eric Zorn.

To believe Zorn’s suggestions of police misconduct is to paint an almost otherworldly corruption and cruelty of the entire police department. Would detectives who worked this crime scene be so cruel and deranged that they would willingly pin the murders on the wrong guys? Would they not care to get the right guy in such a monstrous crime? Would all the detectives and supervisors sit idly by if they thought for a moment the detectives were fudging the case? Would the states attorneys? Would they stick by this narrative if other evidence emerged that might call it into question? All of them? 

To Zorn and his cohorts, the answer seems to be yes. Their willingness to believe time and time again that the police are the monsters and the criminals the victims has permeated the media and criminal justice system. 

The police are sick of this caricature by Zorn and his wrongful conviction cohorts. They are sick of being vilified by a group of people that seem to be immune from scrutiny of their own actions and statements, scrutiny that may very well rival their own mythology about the police in its potential depravity. 

Consider another key fact Zorn barely touches on. 

Zorn says Bridgeman’s mutilated body was found in Coleman’s basement. That’s right, in Coleman’s basement. 

But Zorn suggests that the real perpetrator was the one that the DNA tests pointed to, the one identified as a serial rapist. Well, then, can Zorn explain how the serial rapist is the offender but the body ended up in Coleman’s basement? 

Numerous witnesses stated that Bridgeman was last seen walking in Englewood with Coleman. Coleman himself admitted walking with Bridgeman, but claims he left her. How, then, did she fall into the hands of a serial rapist and then end up murdered in Coleman’s basement? Did Bridgeman walk with Coleman, leave him, fall into the hands of serial rapist, who just randomly brought her to Coleman’s basement without knowing it? 

Don’t expect Zorn to address such glaring inconsistencies in the wrongful conviction narrative. After all, Zorn ignored similar inconsistencies in other wrongful conviction bids. For many years, Zorn ignored the grand jury testimony that cast overwhelming doubt in the exoneration of Anthony Porter in 1999 and the conviction of another man, Alstory Simon, taking Porter’s place in prison. Zorn also ignored key evidence that clearly pointed to Madison Hobley’s guilt in the 1987 arson that left seven dead. 

As with other exoneration cases, the truth is that peel away the narrative provided by Zorn through his wrongful conviction allies and a chilling, alternate narrative emerges, one that generates awe that the Tribune would grant Zorn space to comment on yet more wrongful convictions until they initiated a review of his previous coverage. 

And this gets to the heart of Zorn’s column last week and why it may very well be the initiation of a campaign as much as it is a newspaper column. 

The reason is that former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the prosecutor Zorn assails in his column, opened up a window in 2014 that may be a dire burden for Zorn and Chicago’s media establishment. Alvarez undermined the most influential wrongful conviction cases in the state’s history when she let Alstory Simon out of prison in 2014. Alvarez said Simon’s constitutional rights had been violated by Northwestern investigators in the Anthony Porter exoneration. This decision by Alvarez cast doubt on the entire wrongful conviction narrative, the one Zorn had been pushing for decades. 

Shortly later, Simon’s attorneys filed a lawsuit alleging a pattern of misconduct in wrongful conviction cases. Many of these cases these attorneys are now casting doubt on were echoed in Zorn’s columns. 

Did Alvarez’s opening of this window in 2014 play a key role in her loss to the Foxx in a bitterly contested election? Possibly. George Soros, a stalwart leftist who contributes to vast sums to anti-police groups like Black Lives Matter, donated to Foxx’s campaign. So did wrongful conviction attorneys. Foxx campaigned on the rhetoric of addressing wrongful convictions, ignoring all the evidence of wrongful exonerations. Zorn and the media community joined in the chorus to oust Alvarez. 

But here’s the problem. One theme constantly is emerging in the narrative of corruption in the wrongful conviction movement: a media willing to go on the attack against anyone who criticizes their narrative. 

Is this what Zorn is doing in his column? Is he beginning the campaign to vilify Alvarez’s courageous act of letting Simon out of prison and putting the movement to free killers and rapists on trial, largely based on allegations of police misconduct? At the same time, is he reminding Foxx who put her in power and why? 

Time will tell if Zorn’s article is indeed the beginning of a crucial and desperate campaign to shut forever the window that Alvarez opened. Time will tell if Zorn’s column last week is a sign that the media is gearing up for an attack on their critics. Who knows how many will feel the wrath of opening up the window of potential corruption in the wrongful conviction movement? 

Alvarez knows firsthand how this campaign works, after she released Simon from prison based upon compelling evidence. For that, she has paid dearly and will likely continue to pay.  

But you don’t have to seek out Alvarez to know how this campaign works. Ask any honest, hardworking police officer who helped put away the monsters that terrorize the innocent, like a 20-year-old young woman found impaled in the basement of a Chicago building.

Ask them what they think about Eric Zorn’s writing.

Go ahead, ask them.  

FOP Wins Key Ruling From State Labor Board On Disciplinary Matrix

Chicago (November 13, 2017)— President Kevin Graham announced today that the FOP won a crucial ruling from the Illinois State Labor Board rejecting the city’s disciplinary matrix.

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According to the ruling, the city violated the Illinois Labor Relations Act by failing to negotiate the new policy that would give the city broad authority to impose discipline according to a matrix of its own creation.

The FOP argued that the city’s policy violated the collective bargaining agreement because it was not negotiated with the FOP.

“This is a great victory for our members,” Kevin Graham said. “The City is obligated to negotiate with us. According to this ruling, they will now have to. We will fight every attempt by the City to make changes without negotiating first.”

Here are the key points by Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal:

  • The City is required to bargain in good faith concerning the City’s decision to create the CR Matrix and Guidelines.

  • The City is required to restore the status quo by rescinding the CR Matrix and Guidelines and rescinding any disciplinary action imposed using the Matrix and Guidelines.

  • The City is required to reassess the level of discipline to be imposed using the informal penalty section/review process in existence before it implemented the Matrix and Guidelines without reference to them.

  • The City is required to make unit members whole for any losses they may have suffered as a result of the decision to use the Matrix and Guidelines to select a disciplinary penalty with interest at 7 percent a year.

The city has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

The FOP has two other complaints filed with the state labor board, Body Cameras and Use of Force. 

Center On Wrongful Convictions Notches Another Win...

WOMAN CONVICTED OF MURDER IN 2009 FOUND NOT GUILTY

Chicago, IL (Nov. 9, 2017)—Northwestern University, currently a defendant in a lawsuit alleging misconduct in several wrongful conviction cases, garnered the release of another convicted murderer last week.

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The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law—together with three pro bono attorneys from the Chicago law firm Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg—racked up another win last week with a not-guilty verdict following the retrial of Kerry Masterson on a murder charge.

Masterson was convicted by a Cook County jury in 2011 of the murder two years before of Michael Norton, 55, a single father and longtime owner of Norton’s Sweet Shop, a candy store at the corner of North and Cicero Avenues in Chicago. She originally was sentenced to 58 years in prison and had served eight years until last week when jurors—following an hour of deliberations—acquitted Masterson of fatally shooting Norton and sent her home. 

For Brittany Norton, the now-grown only child of Mr. Norton who had sat through the three-day trial, the verdict came as a horrific blow. “It was a terribly sad day,” said Brittany.

Despite the verdict, Norton maintains that Masterson committed the murder.

“Masterson was responsible for my father’s death. There were multiple witnesses who testified to that fact. Now, we have a silly appeals decision and we have to live with it and go through a second trial.” 

At Masterson’s original trial, two co-defendants—Elvin Payton and Beatrice Rosado, who had already pleaded guilty to murdering Norton—abruptly contradicted videotaped statements they had given to police investigating the murder.

Rosado, 26, sentenced to 22 years in prison, testified that she was “going along with a lie” when she told police she saw Masterson running out of Norton’s shop. She said police showed her a portion of Payton’s confession and pressured her to corroborate his version of events.

However, three witnesses who had testified at Masterson’s original trial also returned to the stand and again identified Masterson as the individual they saw running from Norton’s store after he was fatally shot.

Northwestern attorneys Karen Daniel and Andrea Lewis began investigating Masterson’s case in 2014 and agreed to take over the appeal of her conviction—one of the first accepted by the Center’s Women’s Project.

The appeal was granted based on arguments by experts who claimed that eyewitness testimony is unreliable. The court agreed and paved the way for a new trial.

For police and prosecutors, already straddled with high crime rates and cases, the ruling about eyewitness testimony affords wrongful conviction law firms and law professors another avenue to overturn convictions, leading to a high burden for prosecutors having to retry cases decades later.

Exquisite Corruption

So powerful is this mob of party media hacks—reporters and columnists like Steve Mills, Eric Zorn, Andy Grimm, Dan Hinkel, Megen Crepeau, Carol Marin, and on and on—that the few good journalists remaining in Chicago are afraid to confront their fellow journalists’ false party narratives, lest they should end up on the same firing line as the Chicago Police Department.

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