On January 10, 2020, a judge in Cook County, Illinois, ordered the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) to produce by the end of 2020 all misconduct files from 1967 to 2015. Judge Alison Conlon noted that the CPD had “willfully and intentionally failed to comply” with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).
The FOIA lawsuit was brought by former Illinois state prisoner Charles Green. He was incarcerated for over two decades after being convicted of a quadruple murder that occurred on Chicago’s West Side. Green has continuously maintained his innocence.
Green filed the FOIA request with the CPD in 2015, six years after he was released from prison. He requested all closed complaint register files from 1967 to 2015. According to Green’s attorney, Jared Kosoglad, the request was made “in order to help him discover evidence of his innocence and to preserve and disseminate evidence of innocence to others wrongfully convicted.”
Kosoglad said the files would be published on the website of the Invisible Institute — an organization that has previously publicized FOIA releases from law enforcement agencies. As of January 16, 2020, the CPD had only turned over about 100 of the 174,900 responsive documents it claims to have on hand. Instead of producing the documents as ordered, it appeared to be focusing on publicly complaining about the decision, possibly with an eye toward an appeal. The CPD claims the production of documents will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The CPD has a legacy of abusing — even torturing — arrestees. It ran its own “black site” where arrestees were covertly taken for secret interrogations without access to attorneys or being allowed to notify their families about where they were. There, the arrestees remained until CPD officers decided they had something worth booking them for. Only then did they enter the official jail system.
CPD officers were also infamous for editing video recordings of interrogations to omit the unconstitutional parts. One CPD lieutenant was convicted on federal charges relating to his lying about torturing arrestees. A state torture inquiry concluded that many arrestees were tortured.
With all of that misconduct, one would expect a lot of disciplinary action against officers. Instead, the pattern seems to be one of many complaints but very few punishments. Hopefully, the disclosures will bring to light the corruption and the cover-up.
“The order threatens to expose decades of police corruption and other skeletons out of CPD’s closet, prevents the City from continuing to expend millions in taxpayer dollars to keep police misconduct secret, and makes patterns of police misconduct readily available to the public,” said Kosoglad in a statement.
Sources: chicagosuntimes.com, techdirt.com
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