IPRA Leak Key in Police Conspiracy Trial?
Though the facts and circumstances of the case cry out for real investigation, the Chicago media won’t address the increasingly suspicious conduct of the city’s so-called civilian police oversight agency in a case now playing out against three accused police officers.
As the trial against former Detective David March, former Officer Joseph Walsh, and Officer Thomas Gaffney—accused of obstruction of justice for conspiring to cover up the Laquan McDonald shooting—gets under way, IPRA’s role in the case, particularly its relationship to the media, becomes more and more suspicious. That suspicious conduct was highlighted during the cross-examination of one of the special prosecutor’s key witnesses, Jose Torres.
Torres testified that he saw the shooting as he was taking his sick son to the hospital and was troubled by it. He described how he contacted IPRA days afterward. He went to IPRA to give a statement.
Then, after he gave the statement, a Chicago reporter, Jamie Kalven, suddenly showed up at his door. Shocked that his supposedly confidential statement to the agency had obviously gotten out, Torres asked Kalven how Kalven got his name and address. Torres testified that Kalven told Torres that Kalven had sources with the city who had provided it to him. Since Torres had only spoken to IPRA, he concluded IPRA had leaked his information.
But whoever that source at IPRA was, he or she didn’t leak Torres’s information to just any reporter. It was leaked to a reporter whose career as a journalist is built upon making claims of corruption against the police, a reporter who writes for an organization called the Invisible Institute, which is, according to its own website, funded by powerhouse wrongful conviction law firms like Loevy & Loevy as well as the University of Chicago Law School.
Why, of all people, would IPRA, if they did so, leak this information, and why leak it to this reporter?
But let’s take a closer look back at this leak from IPRA and Kalven’s visit to Torres. Just after Kalven showed up at Torres’s door, Torres said attorneys for the Laquan McDonald family then arrived at his house. Torres said he welcomed them in.
Lots of unanswered questions here: Who told the attorneys about Torres? Who told them his address? Was it Kalven? If so, what did Kalven say to them? If so, why would a reporter notify attorneys? Why did these attorneys come visit this witness? What did they discuss?
The entire leak to Kalven and his visit to Torres cries out for more investigation for another reason. Torres first made his statement to IPRA, then Kalven appeared at his door. Then attorneys for McDonald’s family. But according to testimony and police reports, IPRA never told detectives about the existence of Torres as a witness. Detectives only learned about Torres from an interview with Kalven ally Craig Futterman, also a prominent member in the anti-police movement who works at the University of Chicago Law School.
This fact, in and of itself, is shocking. How can an investigative agency not even notify the police about a witness in a case?
But what about Kalven? How much about the case did he know from his sources within the city, presumably IPRA? Did Kalven know the detectives had not been made aware of Torres as a witness when Kalven went to visit Torres? If he didn’t, wouldn’t Kalven be shocked that the police had left Torres out of their investigation? There is no sign arising in the trial that Kalven called the detectives to ask them about the existence of Torres as a witness, no sign that he confronted the police about this missing key witness.
If Kalven did know that the police were in the dark about Torres, a host of troubling questions arise. Shouldn’t Kalven have been shocked that detectives were kept in the dark about a key witness? Wouldn’t Kalven be curious about the fact that IPRA didn’t even tell investigating detectives about Torres? Isn’t that a huge media story in and of itself?
If Kalven knew the police were in the dark about the existence of Torres, then Kalven’s conduct moves as much into activism as it does journalism, for wouldn’t a bona fide investigation immediately reach out to detectives about the existence of Torres?
There are other reasons why IPRA’s conduct in this case cries out for scrutiny. IPRA and its later reincarnation, COPA, are accused of leaking confidential information in other cases that helped the media and the anti-police law firms build cases against police officers. That includes allegations in a lawsuit that investigators at IPRA leaked out information to sympathetic reporters to build a criminal case against a high-profile police commander, Glenn Evans.
Evans beat the charges against him in a criminal trial, in large part by revealing the evidence of misconduct against IPRA.
Another lawsuit from an employee of IPRA claims he was told his to change his findings in a police shooting case to rule the shooting unjustified.
There is so much here crying out for investigation, but now, even years after the shooting, reporters are refusing to do so. It’s as if the media is guarding a narrative, rather than creating one based on the evidence.
But that would be impossible.