City, Media Ignore Evans Lawsuit...Again
The latest addition to the alphabet soup of agencies charged with overseeing allegations of police misconduct has already faced its first two bombshells.
The latest one to drop comes from Sharon Fairley, the first head of COPA, (formerly called IPRA, formerly called OPS), who announced last week that she is resigning from COPA to put her hat in the ring for Attorney General.
Fairley’s announcement also came shortly after she lashed out at comments from the Chicago FOP claiming that she did not run fair investigations while she was the head of IPRA. When told of these comments, Fairley said the FOP was “squealing,” a description many outraged police officers believed to be a reference to the police as “pigs.”
How’s that for the head of an agency overseeing police misconduct? Fairley never apologized for the comment, nor did the mayor call her out on it.
As it is, the local media seems utterly befuddled by Fairley’s announcement that she is leaving COPA, particularly since COPA had only been in existence for just a few days when Fairly made the announcement.
Here’s what Fran Spielman from the Sun Times wrote about Fairley’s announcement:
Ten days after a ballyhooed kick-off, the chief administrator of Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability has told Mayor Rahm Emanuel she is planning to resign to run for Illinois Attorney General, City Hall sources said Monday.
Sharon Fairley’s departure would be a stunning blow for a newly created agency struggling to regain public trust shattered by the police shooting of Laquan McDonald and prove that it is more than just a name change from the widely discredited and now-abolished Independent Police Review Authority.
But in its coverage of the Fairley departure, the local media ignored, once again, a key scandal that has emerged during her tenure overseeing IPRA, one that takes shape in the recent filing of two lawsuits in federal and state courts by attorneys representing Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans.
Evans’ lawsuits against IPRA and the city paint a strikingly different picture of the investigations IPRA was conducting against accused police officers than what Fairley and city reps project.
In his lawsuit, Evans portrays IPRA as an agency out of control, concocting investigations without legitimate evidence that revealed a powerful bias, and even malice against Evans. Evans, who has enjoyed widespread support among members of the community where he has worked, contends, for example, that investigators at the agency trumped up evidence against him then illegally released it to the media.
What is perhaps most disturbing about his lawsuit is that much of the evidence in it arises from his criminal trial. As the prosecutor’s case against Evans moved toward a trial, this emerging evidence transformed Evans’ accusers more into defendants. Evans was acquitted on all nine charges by Circuit Court Judge Diane Cannon. As a result, a questioned hovered over the case after the verdict: Why was Evans charged to begin with?
Equally important in Evans’ lawsuit was the connection between COPA/IPRA and the local media. Evans’ attorneys have alleged that an investigator at IPRA illegally released documents to the press in an attempt to generate a media hysteria against Evans. At first, it worked. Virtually every media outlet in the city echoed the report that a state DNA test of Evans’ gun was indicative of his guilt.
But expert testimony and common sense refuted the claim, indicating that the sample could have easily have been the result of Evans arresting the offender.
The media response was telling. Rather than admit that the narrative about Evans was wrong, the media merely attacked Judge Cannon, even though there was no real evidence against Evans. It is a sign of the power and corruption of the local media that it believes it can control a narrative in such a way, regardless of fairness or evidence.
But the Evans lawsuit is just one sign of a dark underside in the agencies that ostensibly oversee police misconduct. Somebody has to look at the evidence in these cases. The local media won’t. The media has proven time and again that itwill never abandon the anti-police narrative.
The Evans case is just one sign that the full story about IPRA and its investigations is not finished. It may very well be that lots of people will be squealing as the evidence in the lawsuit unfolds.