The Watch

News and Information for Chicago FOP members.

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.

 

Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair...

All the Chicago media was in attendance at 26th and California Tuesday at the hearing of infamous police killer Jackie Wilson.

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Wilson and his lawyer, Flint Taylor, are trying to get Wilson out of prison on claims that he was tortured by Jon Burge and his men four days after he and his brother Andrew murdered Officers Richard O’Brien and William Faheyin February, 1982..

This hearing was a crucial day for the Chicago media, one in which they could, once again, push a narrative about the Chicago Police and criminal justice system that has been the foundation of Chicago journalism for four decades.

But clearly the glory days of the Chicago media are fading, and fading fast. The reason is that so many cases are emerging that point to corruption in the wrongful conviction movement that the Chicago media machine must ignore as much evidence as they describe.

And what they ignore portends as dark a vision of Chicago journalism as many allegations against the Chicago Police.

Chicago is a MacBethian world, where everything can become its opposite: killers become heroes, police vicious criminals. And now, as their manufactured narratives about wrongfully convicted killers and rapists fall apart, journalists now face this world, as well.

Fair is foul and foul is fair.

Consider one of the cases now pending in the federal courts is the lawsuit of a man convicted for a rape. His name is Stanley Wrice.

According to police and court transcripts, here is what happened to the victim of the rape, Karen Byron, in September 1982, the same year Jackie and his brother Andrew gunned down Officers Fahey and O’Brien.

A lifelong alcoholic, Bryon left her apartment one night to go visit a friend. She was extremely drunk. As she walked, she was spotted by several men in a car, one of them being Stanley Wrice. The men pulled up to Byron and began ushering her into their car, telling her they would give her a ride.

A police sergeant spotted them. Suspicious, he approached and stopped them. He asked Karen Byron if she needed help. She said no. He asked if she wanted to go to the hospital. She said no. He asked if she wanted to go to the police station. She said no. It was the worst decision of her life.

The men never drove Byron to her friend’s house. Instead, they took her to Stanley Wrice’s house. Some of the offenders drove in the car; some walked back to Wrice’s house. They brought Byron there to the attic and began gang-raping her.

In addition to being raped, Byron was badly beaten.

But this wasn’t enough for Wrice, according to prosecutors. Throughout the night, he began torturing Karen Byron. He lit newspapers on fire and burned her with them. He went to the kitchen and heated up various implements on the stove, then went back to the attic and burned her again and again.

According to prosecutors in the case, Wrice eventually either pushed Byron or she fell down the stairs. He shoved her off the back porch. She crawled and walked to a gas station in shock and excruciating pain from second- and third-degree burns all over her body.

A gas station attendant discovered her and called the police. They took her to a nearby hospital, then she was sent to the Loyola Burn Center, where she endured months of agonizing treatment.

The sergeant who had stopped Wrice and the other offenders when they were putting Byron in the car heard the call at the hospital and relocated there. He told detectives about the stop and gave them the license plate number.

From Byron’s description, the detectives, who had worked with former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge during their careers, went to Wrice’s apartment, where they found loads of incriminating evidence. Several of the offenders confessed, pointing out the particularly vicious and cruel actions of Wrice.

At the criminal trial, a doctor testified about the agonizing treatments Byron endured for her burns, including numerous skin grafts.

Wrice was tried and convicted, sentenced to 100 years.

Wrice’s attorneys eventually claimed that Wrice was part of a pattern and practice of police abuse by “Burge detectives.” Despite all the evidence against Wrice and the fact that even his own co-offenders fingered him, he maintained that Wrice was innocent. Wrice argued he was home at the time of the attacks on Byron but did not participate.

This would mean that the detectives arbitrarily chose Wrice for the rape and torture. But why would the detectives care who was the worst offender in the crime? Why would they pin in it on the wrong guy? Wouldn’t this potentially leave the actual offender free to commit such atrocities again?

Such questions are never asked by the Chicago media.

In 2011 the courts ruled that Wrice should get another trial because of the evidence of a pattern and practice of misconduct against the detectives. Prosecutors declined to retry him, citing the fact that so many witnesses and the victim were now deceased.

Wrice and his attorneys then applied for a certificate of innocence. That’s when things went south for Wrice. In 2014 Judge Thomas Byrne denied the certificate because he thought Wrice was guilty.

From the Chicago Tribune:

In a 44-page ruling, Judge Thomas Byrne concluded that what he called strong circumstantial evidence, eyewitness testimony and physical evidence recovered at the crime scene all “powerfully” pointed to the guilt of Stanley Wrice in the 1982 rape. . . .

“His description of the events defies common sense,” wrote Byrne. “It is simply inconceivable that he would not smell the charred flesh or the scent of burning paper (or) hear the sounds of the violent assault.”

Common sense?

But there was another key aspect to Byrne’s ruling. Byrne pointed out how suspicious it was that the co-offenders and witnesses had retracted earlier statements fingering Wrice. Even as late at 2005 in interviews with special prosecutors, these men still said that Wrice was the main offender.

What was it that got them to change their statements?

Well, the changed statements came after a reported visit from students working with David Protess, the former Northwestern University professor who left the school amidst a scandal after he was accused of lying about his investigations. Protess then opened the Chicago Innocence Project, with students acting as volunteers.

Here is what Judge Byrne said about one witness recantation:

 He [the witness] has only come forward with his affidavit recanting his trial testimony in anticipation of the litigation surrounding [the] petitioner’s post-conviction petition. In fact, it was not until 2011 when he was contacted by the Chicago Innocence Project that he changed his story. His affidavit was prepared nearly 30 years after the crime occurred. The circumstances surrounding his recantation affidavit are certainly suspicious in light of [his] prior inconsistent testimony as it relates to this case.

Certainly suspicious? Obviously not suspicious enough for the Chicago media to go digging into them, even though Protess has been accused of generating false affidavits in other cases.

Not at all. The Chicago media has reported only the court rulings in the Stanley Wrice saga that it could not avoid mentioning in their stories—for example, Wrice’s failure to get his certificate of innocence. The larger issue of what Judge Byrne was suggesting in his ruling—that Wrice was guilty and that the retracted witness statements were suspicious—went uninvestigated by the journalists, even though, again, Protess is accused of generating false affidavits in other cases.

The scenario emerging in the Wrice case, that a man may have been exonerated on false claims against Burge detectives, will get little, if any, coverage from Chicago reporters.

This silence speaks volumes about the media, for the Wrice case took a macabre turn last year, one that is listed right in the docket of Wrice’s federal lawsuit.

It’s the deposition of a woman describing what it was like living near Stanley Wrice when she was just a fourteen-year-old girl. Wrice, she said, began raping and beating her at that age. The woman described how Wrice threatened to beat the girl’s mother if she told on him. Wrice, the woman testified, impregnated her three times.

Her descriptions of her physical and sexual abuse by Wrice are as chilling and disgusting as Karen Byron’s descriptions of being gang-raped and severely burned. In her trial testimony, Byron talked about looking at a small window in the attic throughout the course of the nightmare she endured when she was repeatedly raped and tortured.

Perhaps this window, this small glimpse into the world away from this living nightmare that very well could have been the last moments of her life, was the sole image that carried her through her ordeal.

Who knows?

Now Stanley Wrice’s case is in the federal courts. Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, despite the fact that a judge rejected his certificate of innocence, Wrice is moving forward with his lawsuit claiming that he was wrongfully convicted.

And in this now-familiar journey in Chicago from vicious criminal to victim of police injustice and fabulous wealth, Wrice can be certain of one thing: He has little to worry about from the Chicago media. 

He can, just like Jackie Wilson, count on them.

 

 

 

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.

Click image to read more...

FOP President Graham Statement on COPA

Chicago (January 6, 2018)— On December 17, there was an incident at a bar on the Northwest side involving an officer who had also been involved in a fatal police shooting in 2015.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) recently ruled that that 2015 shooting was unjustified. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) strongly denounced this ruling and notified its attorneys to begin legal scrutiny into the ruling and the COPA investigation behind it.

It appears that someone at COPA has now leaked the bar incident to Chicago Tribune reporter Dan Hinkel on Friday.

It also appears that COPA may have taken over the criminal investigation of this incident in the bar without the legal authority to do so and have conducted an extremely poor investigation.

Earlier this week, COPA reportedly passed the investigation onto the Chicago Police Department.

We believe that COPA is using this incident to put public pressure on the Superintendent to support their recent ruling that the 2015 shooting involving this same officer was unjustified.

We are once again concerned about that COPA is operating unilaterally and arbitrarily against our officers in their investigations. We are also troubled by the leaking of information from COPA to the media to push their agenda. It’s not their job to play politics.

The officers in the 2015 shooting have experienced traumatic events. They deserve fair treatment by COPA. 

FOP Wins Key Ruling On Body Worn Cameras...

Chicago, IL, January 3, 2018 – The State Labor Board ruled this week that the City violated Illinois Labor Law when it expanded its Body Worn Camera Policy without negotiating with the Lodge.

“This is another victory for the FOP in filing Unfair Labor Practice allegations against the City. The City has implemented policies that should have been negotiated first. This is an exceptional win for our members,” said FOP President Kevin Graham.

The ruling by Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg means that the City must “rescind any disciplinary action that the Respondent imposed on Police Officers arising from the misuse/loss of the Body Worn Cameras [BWCs] that it distributed as part of the 2017 expansion of the BWC Pilot Program.”

It must also “make unit members whole for any losses they may have suffered as a result of the discipline they received arising from the misuse/loss the BWCs that the Respondent distributed as part of the 2017 expansion of the Pilot Program.”

Further, the City is required to “on request, bargain collectively in good faith…over any impact or effect of the BWC Pilot Program’s 2017 expansion as it relates to a Police Officer’s safety and/or discipline.”

In November, the FOP won another ULP complaint over the Chicago Police Department’s proposed “disciplinary matrix.” The FOP argued that the policies were subject to negotiation with the Lodge. The State Labor Board agreed.

FOP To Attorneys: Fight COPA Ruling On Shooting...

Chicago, IL, January 1, 2018– The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has advised its attorneys to explore legal action against the City in response to a decision by Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), a civilian oversight agency, that a fatal 2015 police shooting was unjustified.

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Calling the ruling arbitrary, baseless, and politically motivated, the FOP rejected the claim by COPA that an officer was not justified in fatally shooting bat-wielding assailant Quintonio LeGrier when the officer and his partner responded to a domestic disturbance in December 2015.

In response, the FOP has advised its attorneys to explore all legal challenges to the ruling, which, the FOP claims, undermines officers’ abilities to do their jobs and further diminishes the ability of officers to protect the public.

Bettie Jones, a bystander, was accidentally and tragically killed in the incident.

The FOP rejected COPA’s claim that a “reasonable officer” would not conclude the shooting was justified. On the contrary, the ruling has generated heated condemnation from patrolmen and detectives, both active and retired. It also contradicts the Use of Force model, the FOP stated.

The Lodge has called on Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to join them in condemning the ruling. 

Tribune, Dan Hinkel And Mountains Of Evidence

The People’s Law Office survived and grew because we did not require uniformity on political issues. It was a delicate balance at the PLO to stay politically involved, aware, and participating without requiring support of the same movement factions…

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 On March 6, 1970, three Weathermen were killed in an explosion inside a townhouse in Greenwich Village in New York City, when a bomb they were making accidentally detonated. Ted Gold, who was killed, and Cathy Wilkerson who was reported fleeing, had stayed with Mary and me a week before when they came to Chicago for their court dates. The war had come home.

The above quote is from a fascinating book, The Assassination of Fred Hampton, by a founding member of the People’s Law Office, Jeffery Haas. The book chronicles the formation and early crusades of the law firm, established in the wake of a 1969 shooting between members of the Black Panthers and the Chicago Police during a raid on the Panthers stronghold. Two Panthers, Mark Clark and Fred Hampton died.

The passage about two members of the radical, revolutionary group the Weather Underground, Ted Gold and Cathy Wilkerson, staying at the Haas’ home shortly before they blew themselves up in the New York townhouse is a compelling sign of the friendship and intimacy between the early days of the PLO and the radical group.

Haas doesn’t get into too much detail about what the accidental explosion in the New York townhouse, for good reason. The general consensus among investigators and historians is that the members of the Weather Underground were constructing bombs they planned to explode at a military base in Fort Dix, in New Jersey, where soldiers and their dates would be gathered for a dance, and two others at police headquarters in New York and Detroit.

Hundreds of people, including scores of police officers, could have died in the explosions.

The PLO’s association and representation of violent groups and individuals like the Weathermen and the Black Panthers hints at a darker side of the law firm’s history, one littered with revolutionary groups willing to commit violence.

From Vanity Fair:

Bill Ayers and others would always insist there were never any plans to harm people. The handful of Weathermen who crossed that line, Ayers claims, were rogues and outliers. This is a myth, pure and simple, designed to obscure what Weather actually planned. In the middle ranks, it was widely expected that Weathermen would become revolutionary murderers. "My image of what we were going to be was undiluted terrorist action," recalls a Weatherman named Jon Lerner. “I remember talking about putting a bomb on the [Chicago railroad] tracks at rush hour, to blow up people coming home from work. That’s what I was looking forward to.”

 Weather Underground member Bernardine Dohrn on Charles Manson murders:

“First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach. Wild!” 
 

This is a side of the PLO’s associates and clients rarely, if ever, mentioned by Chicago’s media as they cover the “social justice” and “civil rights” claims of the law firm.

This extraordinary bias of the local media was on full display by Chicago Tribune “reporter” Dan Hinkel this week, in an article that ostensibly covers the PLO’s latest attempt to spring convicted cop killer, Jackie Wilson, from prison in a hearing to determine whether Wilson will get, yet again, another trial.

Jackie Wilson and his brother Andrew were convicted of murdering officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien in 1982 on the south side, during a traffic stop.

Andrew Wilson was captured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men several days after the murder. Wilson showed up at Central Detention badly bruised after he spent the day being interrogated by Burge and his men, along with a prosecutor. PLO lawyers claimed Andrew Wilson had also been burned.

The murders of Fahey and O’Brien culminated a month in which five police officers were shot, four fatally. Witnesses said Andrew Wilson was laughing after he loomed over O’Brien and fired several more shots as the wounded officer lay on the ground.

It was Andrew Wilson’s bruises that became the foundation of the wrongful conviction movement, as the PLO’s top attorney, Flint Taylor, pushed the narrative that it was Burge and his men who beat Wilson, doing so to get Wilson to confess to the murders. The PLO narrative dismissed the claim that the beating was the result of the distraught wagon men who transported Wilson to Central Detention, as many believed.

Many journalism careers were built on the mythology of police abuse that arose from the PLO’s crusade in the Wilson murders.

Hinkel’s article, like those of so many Chicago journalists before him, dives deeply into the evidence of Wilsons’ abuse, bolstering Hinkel’s narrative that the police are filled with bias and racial animosity. This narrative permeates much of Hinkel’s articles.

But what Hinkel won’t go near is the other side of the story, the one that explores the evidence of an extraordinary bias against the police in the collection of law firms like the PLO, a bias revealed in violent revolutionaries crashing on the couch of PLO lawyers shortly before these revolutionaries accidentally blew themselves up as they plotted to possibly kill hundreds, a group that often targeted police officers.

Beating a man in custody is offensive and wrong. Aren’t bomb plots against innocent people also offensive and wrong?

But one doesn’t have to look four decades into the past to see signs of the fervent anti-police bias in the PLO.

Or the incredible bias of Dan Hinkel.

Hinkel, for example, won’t give even one sentence to a bombshell ruling against the PLO just a few weeks ago. PLO attorney Joey Mogul went to federal court claiming that Nicole Harris was the victim of police coercion when Harris confessed in 1995 to murdering her own child.

Attorneys in the trial argued not simply that the detectives did nothing wrong, but that Harris did, in fact, kill her child. And they won. Harris, her attorneys like Mogul, got nothing. The detectives, who endured a decade of having their names dragged through the mud by media outlets like the Tribune, proved their investigation was airtight.

Why, then, did Harris get out of prison?

Hinkel and the Tribune wrote an editorial apologizing to the detectives, right? They issued the grand mea culpa?

Forget about it. Not only did they not correct their egregious coverage of the case, but Hinkel refused to even acknowledge it in his article about Jackie Wilson. Didn’t a verdict that pointed heavily to the fact that the detectives in the Harris case were innocent of the accusations leveled against them bear on the story about Jackie Wilson? Wasn’t it a powerful sign that at least some of their claims against police officers were wrong?

Hinkel quotes Taylor claiming a “mountain” of evidence of police misconduct?

But now there is a mountain of evidence of misconduct and false claims of innocence in the wrongful conviction movement: Alstory Simon, Anthony Porter, Stanley Wrice, Madison Hobley, Nicole Harris, Armando Serrano, Anthony McKinney…

Which mountain is bigger?

Don’t look for “investigative reporter” Dan Hinkel to find out.  He’s got a story, and he’s sticking with it. 

Prosecutors Ignoring Evidence of Misconduct In Wrongful Conviction Claims?

But in doing so, prosecutors like Sussman may be walking into a legal land mine of their own. Sussman may be ignoring seminal evidence against Guevara’s accusers as he allows the claims against Guevara to proceed. By law, prosecutors must reveal evidence that may be exculpatory against any defendant, called the Brady Rule:

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FOP Demands Clarification From COPA On Shooting

Chicago, IL, December 29, 2017– In light of COPA’s ruling yesterday that the shooting of Quintonio LeGrier was not justified, the FOP demands further explanation from the agency as the New Year’s Holiday approaches.

Can COPA explain when officers can use force and when they cannot? If an offender is wielding a bat against an officer, must he or she wait until they are actually struck before they can defend themselves? Must they wait until they see a muzzle flash of a gun before any attempts to protect their lives and those of the public would be deemed reasonable? How far can the weapon be found from an offender before an officer’s use of force is deemed legitimate? Six feet? Ten feet? Fifteen?

Further, COPA needs to provide a legal basis for their ruling. Just how powerful is COPA to override the findings of investigators and prosecutors to claim shootings are unjustified, even when the actions appear to fall clearly within the Use of Force guidelines? What are the particular skills and strategies of COPA investigators? Has COPA become an agency with absolute, arbitrary authority?

Not only should COPA answer these questions, but so should the head of the Chicago Police Board, Lori Lightfoot, as well as Mayor Emanuel, particularly as Chicago Police officers head into a holiday filled with drunken revelers and citizens shooting off guns.

If COPA is empowered to make such clearly arbitrary and politicized rulings, then the FOP can only conclude that the City and its various agencies are not concerned about the safety and well-being of our officers and our citizens.

Media Bias Affecting Crime Rates?

When detectives obtained the conviction of Nicole Harris for murdering her own child in 2005, they thought the case was closed forever.

Harris, after all, had confessed to both detectives and a prosecutor to strangling her four-year-old son Jaquari Dancy in a fit of rage after Jaquari left the house while Harris was at the laundromat.

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Harris was sentenced to thirty years in prison—her claims that she was coerced into confessing had no effect in her trial. Who would believe, after all, that as many as six detectives would take an accidental death of a child and transform it into a murder case, pinning the murder on the mother who had just lost her child?

The Chicago Tribune. That’s who.

To the absolute shock of the detectives, the Tribune took up the wrongful conviction narrative of coercion, the one claiming that Harris was the victim of police misconduct. The Tribune dutifully published article after article chronicling Harris’s odyssey from convicted child killer to victim of the police, and the transformation of detectives into villains.

Take, for example, the January 2014 Tribune article describing Harris as an ambitious college graduate, looking for a job after she got out of prison:

Harris emerged from prison still mourning her son but determined not to give in to bitterness. Soft-spoken, with deep brown eyes and side-swept bangs, Harris is quick to smile. Her penchant for hugs is a testament to her optimism and to the person she was before her life unraveled.

“When it first happened, of course I was angry,” she said. “As years went on, I began to understand that there are evil people in this world, and sometimes we suffer at the hands of them. Injustice happens. But it’s a matter of how you respond to it, and anger would have done more hurt and harm to me than good.”

“Quick to smile . . . Her penchant for hugs . . . before he life unraveled.” Like the day she confessed to strangling her own child?

But then something happened that the Tribune reporters clearly did not foresee. The detectives banded together and compelled the city to go to trial on Harris’s civil lawsuit in which she sought $18 million in compensation for her “wrongful conviction.”

By this time, the detectives faced a formidable challenge to clearing their name, for in addition to getting out of prison, Cook County prosecutors did not challenge a certificate of innocence petition by Harris. So the detectives were fighting an opponent who had been declared innocent by the courts. And Harris was being represented by a powerful consortium of wrongful conviction attorneys.

Nevertheless, the detectives stuck to their legal guns.

And the case did go to trial. In doing so, the attorney representing the detectives, Andy Hale, dug into a playbook from another crucial 2005 case against Chicago detectives. Hale adopted the strategy of a key wrongful conviction case that went dreadfully awry for the wrongful conviction attorneys and their media allies, the Anthony Porter case.

Porter was exonerated in 1999 of a 1982 double murder after wrongful conviction activists obtained a confession from another man, Alstory Simon. His attorneys clearly assumed a settlement was all but guaranteed in the case. So, too, apparently did the reporters at the Tribune, which had written the same type of fawning, uninvestigated articles about Porter being innocent as they did about Harris.

Attorneys for the detectives in the Porter case refused to settle. They marched into court and argued that Porter was guilty of the murders. They won. Porter didn’t get a dime. The city was left with a court verdict standing in stark contrast to the stories that the Tribune was telling about the Porter murders.

This is exactly what took shape in the Harris case. The attorneys argued, in complete defiance of the narrative constructed by the Tribune, that Harris killed her child. And they won, too. Despite Harris’s penchant for hugs, her quick smiles, and her optimism, they argued that Harris murdered her own son. The detectives were completely vindicated. Harris and her attorneys got nothing.

That’s not all. The timing of the Harris verdict is also key.

Earlier in the week of the verdict, Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx released fifteen men from prison in what was immediately dubbed by journalists clearly giddy with delight as a “mass exoneration.” The exoneration was yet another sign that the Foxx administration has moved the prosecutor’s office in line with the wrongful conviction movement so dear to the Tribune.

But within the same week of doing so, a key wrongful conviction claim based on police misconduct claim imploded in federal court.

Then, a few weeks later, a massive settlement of another wrongful conviction case went before the finance committee of the city council. The Fraternal Order of Police argued at the meeting that giving $31 million to the “Englewood Four” was a betrayal of police officers. The exoneration of the four men once convicted of raping and murdering a prostitute in 1994 should not be paid, the FOP argued, because of compelling evidence they were involved in the crime, despite the fact that DNA came back to another subject.

Two alderman, Anthony Napolitano and Nicholas Sposato, voted against the settlement. Sposato said he called prosecutors and police officers and quickly became convinced that the men were involved in the crime. At the regular city council meeting, both men voted against the settlement because they believed the men were guilty.

Who did they talk to that the Tribune reporters didn’t?

Their statements didn’t seem to affect Tribune reporters. Rather than look into the evidence that the men were in fact involved—from the facts of the detectives’ investigation, the changing statements of the four men, and the alleged pattern of misconduct against wrongful conviction law firms taking shape in the federal courts—the Tribune reporters doubled down on their pre-written narrative that the Englewood Four were innocent. The fact that just a few weeks earlier another one of their manufactured narratives imploded in federal court seemed to have no effect on them at all.

All of this begs a question: What effect does this media bias have upon Chicago’s chronic violent crime?

If the detectives in the Harris case can see such a routine murder investigation transformed into a bizarre, fantastical tale of police corruption, wouldn’t that have a profoundly devastating effect on police investigations?

In short, is the failure of the media to do their job a main reason the police cannot do theirs? And what about the Englewood Four? What if the four men were involved in the rape and murder of Nina Glover and they are now walking free, soon to become millionaires?

One statistic in the city points very powerfully to the fact that media bias is indeed having a crippling effect on the policing. It is the resolution rates for murder cases.

From the Sun-Times:

Originally Chicago Police detectives have solved fewer than one in five murders committed this year, the lowest rate of closing murder cases since at least 2006—and likely a historic low, police statistics show.

Seven months into 2017, the city’s police department had “cleared” fewer than 20 percent of murder investigations involving homicides that had taken place since Jan. 1, adding to a recent dip amid a decades-long trend of unsolved homicides in the city, according to the police data studied by crime analyst Jeff Asher.

Is the fact that the media is so willing to buy claims of police misconduct, without truly investigating them, hampering the police from doing their jobs?

Ask the detectives in the Harris case.

Or better yet, ask Tribune reporters Dan Hinkel, Megan Crepeau, Jason Meisner, and Steve Schmadeke.

Ask them if Nicole Harris murdered her own child.

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