Time for Our Governor to Pay a Debt
Governor Rauner spoke last and perhaps most movingly of the public officials at the funeral of Officer Samuel Jimenez, who was laid to rest after he was murdered in the course of doing his job. Jimenez was shot down when he ran into Mercy Hospital to confront the gunman, who had killed two others.
During the services, various speakers, including the governor, repeated over and over again that Jimenez and the rest of the responding officers likely saved the lives of many people by confronting the deranged and cowardly gunman at Mercy Hospital.
Governor Rauner started his eulogy with a prayer:
“We are survivors seeking hope, where all seems hopeless.”
And here is what else he said:
“We will never let his memory die. We will celebrate his heroism for all eternity. To our officers here today . . . thank you, god bless you. Yours is the most noble calling in all of humanity. We owe you an incredible debt of gratitude.”
But for Rauner’s words to ring true, he must match action with words. While Rauner has been in office, an unjust institution has taken hold and expanded in Chicago, an institution that stands in sharp contrast to Rauner’s stated sentiments at Jimenez’s funeral on Monday.
The institution is the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, a state-funded agency ostensibly aimed at addressing cases in which offenders claim they were coerced into confessing to their crimes. But that’s not what TIRC truly has become. TIRC is, in fact, the long-sought goal of the fiercely corrupt and ideologically driven anti-police movement. TIRC regenerates long-settled criminal cases by arbitrarily breathing new life into them and getting those cases sent back into the courts. The process eventually allows convicted killers and rapists to be set free on flimsy and suspicious claims, rubber-stamped by many commissioners with a long history of attacking the police and whose lawyer allies stand to make millions from lawsuits arising from the release of such inmates.
TIRC is one of the biggest scams in the history of the state. Not since Governor George Ryan stood before a bunch of fawning ideologues in 2003 and announced he was setting free four convicted killers from death row has Illinois been so stained by such corruption. Those killers became millionaires, as so many inmates now hope to do through TIRC.
What compounds Rauner’s inaction on TIRC is the fact that so much evidence of corruption has arisen in cases alleging police misconduct, especially wrongful conviction cases. If the governor is going to empower TIRC, then TIRC should also investigate this evidence.
The FOP has asked Rauner’s office to look at this evidence, but there has been no response.
But the need for Rauner to intercede on TIRC has reached critical mass: the commission has ruled twice in favor on behalf of police shooters in the last year, one of them now walking the streets a free man.
His name is Jackie Wilson, and he and his now-deceased brother, Andrew, are the infamous killers of Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien on a winter day in 1982 at the intersection of 81st and Morgan Streets.
Like Officer Jimenez, Officers Fahey and O’Brien certainly prevented the death of others in their own demise. Jackie and Andrew Wilson were on their way to spring their friend and fellow police killer Edgar Hope from police custody at Cook County Hospital, where Hope was recovering from wounds he suffered from a shoot-out with police officers a few days earlier that left rookie policeman James Doyle dead.
In a one-month period, four officers were murdered by Hope and the Wilsons.
After TIRC sent Jackie Wilson’s case back into the courts, Judge William Hooks tossed his case, then let Wilson out on bond. Once again, the family members of Fahey and O’Brien—who have been forced to relive the nightmare of the murders after having endured two criminal trials, two civil trials, police board hearings, TIRC hearings—must now face another trial.
Earlier this month, TIRC commissioners also voted unanimously to refer the case of Marcellus Pittman back to the criminal courts for an evidentiary hearing on the claim that he was coerced into confessing to the Halloween shooting of Chicago Police Officer Patrick Doyle in 2001. Doyle was shot in the chest, but was saved from a potentially mortal wound by his bulletproof vest. Doyle and his partner were breaking up an egg fight at the time near Washington Park on the South Side.
Now Pittman has a chance of getting out, as well.
Hundreds of other cases await rulings by TIRC, whose commissioners have shown clearly that they will rubber-stamp these claims merely on the accusations by offenders that they were abused, no matter how ludicrous the evidence.
Rauner needs to recognize that TIRC undermines the entire judicial process that leads to these inmates being in prison in the first place. As such, TIRC is little more than a legalized mob action.
Now TIRC is freeing police shooters.
Governor Rauner’s words at the funeral for Jimenez ring out:
“To our officers here today . . . thank you, god bless you. Yours is the most noble calling in all of humanity. We owe you an incredible debt of gratitude.”
Time to pay that debt, Governor Rauner.