The Watch

News and Information for Chicago FOP members.

FOP To City Attorney: Don't Settle Key Cases Against The Police...

FOP President Graham demands Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel not settle controversial cases tied to former Northwestern professor...

The Fraternal Order of Police is demanding that the city go to trial on two key federal lawsuits alleging police framed innocent men. 

In a letter from FOP President Kevin Graham to the city’s top attorney, Ed Siskel, Graham demanded that the city go to trial on the cases of two exonerated men, Stanley Wrice and Armando Serrano, both of whom were exonerated of their crimes due, in part, to the investigations of disgraced former Northwestern professor David Protess and his students. 

“There now exists a large body of evidence that the release of convicted killers based upon allegations of police misconduct from advocates at Northwestern University are false,” Graham said in a letter to Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel.

Wrice was convicted and sentenced to 100 years for the 1982 gang rape and severe burning of a woman. Serrano was convicted of gang murder in 1993. 

The Wrice exoneration imploded after Judge Thomas Byrne ruled in 2014 that he would not grant a certificate of innocence petition to Wrice because, the judge said, he believed Wrice was guilty of the crime.

From the 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.

In his ruling, the judge also cast doubt on the credibility of the witness recantations in the case, pointing out that these witnesses never changed their testimony about Wrice’s participation in the gruesome crime until decades after the crime when they were approached by students working with Protess. 

Serrano and another man, Jose Montanez, were convicted for the 1993 murder of another gang member. In 2004 Protess and several students began investigating the case. The central witness whose testimony convicted the two men retracted his statement after meeting with students working with Protess. 

Attorneys have alleged misconduct in this investigation as well. In a letter to former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, they made these accusations about the Serrano investigation:

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Indeed, accusations of suspicious recantations have haunted Northwestern investigations headed by Protess, who left the school in scandal after the university said he had lied about other investigations and altered subpoenaed evidence. In 2014 the most influential wrongful conviction case in the state’s history, the 1999 exoneration of Anthony Porter, imploded when Cook County prosecutors released the man, Alstory Simon, from prison who was convicted after Porter’s exoneration. This man’s confession was obtained by investigators working with Protess, an investigation prosecutors assailed in 2014 when they released Simon.

Despite all the evidence of wrongdoing at Northwestern and a federal lawsuit alleging a pattern of misconduct, the Corporation Counsel under Siskel has refused to aggressively fight exonerations tied to Northwestern and Protess. 

Instead, Siskel has been a virtual ATM for police misconduct cases. Last week, his administration settled the case of an offender who dragged an officer under her car in 2013. The offender was charged with attempted murder, which was later plea bargained, against the officer’s wishes, to reckless conduct. Nevertheless, the offender in this case filed a federal lawsuit against the officer, which Siskel’s administration reportedly settled.

A few months ago, Siskel’s office settled for $2.5 million to a woman who claimed officers pointed a weapon at her child during the execution of a search warrant. Despite the fact that a pistol was found in the woman’s purse and her boyfriend was sentenced to 17 years in prison as a result of the search warrant, the city settled the case. 

This settlement in particular begs a question: Is Siskel’s administration punishing officers for doing excellent police work? It seems as is if he is. 

Last year, the city settled a $31 million lawsuit brought by a several defendants, some of whose attorneys were from Northwestern, on the claim that they were wrongfully convicted. 

The FOP and detectives denounced the decision, claiming there was overwhelming evidence tying the four men to the crime.

Chicago police officers and detectives are tired of city attorneys throwing them under the bus. Graham and the FOP are now demanding that Siskel fight these cases.

Comments, suggestions? mpreib@chicagofop.org