Police misconduct constitutes a variety of illegal and bullying acts in which law enforcement agents partake. Misconduct includes excessive use of force, unwarranted property seizure, malicious prosecution, coercion of confession, failure to intervene, bribery, false arrest, intimidation, false imprisonment, creating false evidence, tampering with witnesses or evidence, and more. Police officers have a tremendous amount of power, and when that power is used in unlawful ways, it has a tendency to ruin lives and rip communities apart.
Unwarranted police violence has wreaked havoc on Chicago over the last half century and the problem is not being solved. While there is currently an ongoing civil rights probe of the Chicago police department that began in 2015, a consent decree may be overturned by the new white house administration. If you have had your civil rights violated by a Chicago law enforcement officer or agency, do not hesitate to call an experienced lawyer with the law firm of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906.
Black Citizens’ Complaints Dismissed at Four Times the Rate of White Citizens’ Complaints
Police misconduct in Chicago is at a crisis level, and citizens’ complaints are not being addressed when it comes to false arrest, tampering with evidence, intimidation, and excessive use of force. While the city paid $520 million in settlements and other legal fees relating to police misconduct from 2004 to 2014, according to bettergov.org, complaints from black citizens are largely being ignored. From 2011 to 2015, there were 10,500 complaints filed by African Americans.
Only 166, or 1.6 percent, of those complaints were “sustained” or ended in discipline of an officer after an internal investigation, according to The Huffington Post. Moreover, black Chicago citizen's complaints were dismissed at four times the rate of white Chicago citizen complaints. In total, the city sustained just 2.6 percent of all 29,000 citizen complaints during that time period. In comparison, the national level of all citizen-initiated complaints being sustained is between six and 20 percent. While the national average varies greatly, it is evident that police misconduct is not being addressed in Chicago in the manner that it should.
Over 400 Shootings Since 2007 and Only Two of Wrongdoing Found Valid
Punishment has essentially been non-existent, though. Since 2007 and the creation of the disciplinary system Police Review Authority, there have been over 400 shootings, as of 2015, according to the New York Times. In only two of those cases have wrongdoings by the officers been found valid. While discipline is rare within the Chicago police department, settlements and payouts from lawsuits are common. If you have been injured, a family member has been killed, or any other civil rights of yours or your family’s were violated, there is still hope for some justice.
Call The Chicago Civil Rights Violations Attorneys of Barney and Hourihane Today
The Chicago civil rights violations attorneys of Barney and Hourihane are experienced with all types of police misconduct, and have successfully represented clients in all manners of cases. Call us today at 312-854-0906 to set up an appointment for as soon as possible.
On July 4th of 2015, a Muslim woman was tackled to the ground by five Chicago police officers on the stairs of a subway station, according to The Washington Post. Her hijab (traditional headscarf) was ripped off, she was handcuffed and placed under arrest, then taken to jail. While she was being tackled and handcuffed, her shirt was pulled up and her pants were pulled down, exposing her midriff. This violent act was particularly embarrassing and humiliating to the victim because of her traditional Muslim upbringing.
Later, at the police station she was ordered to strip naked by a female officer and then put in a cell with the door open, while male officers looked in and laughed, according to the lawsuit. The victim, a 32-year-old student from Saudi Arabia, and a Chicago resident, was making her way home at the time of her arrest. She was charged with resisting arrest and reckless behavior. Clear surveillance footage shows her calmly walking up the stairs of the subway station with dozens of other passengers before she is tackled by the five officers. Both charges were later dropped.
Lawsuit Filed in August of 2016 Against Chicago Police Department and Six Officers
A federal lawsuit was filed this summer of 2016, claiming that the officers had acted with prejudice and malice. The lawsuit states that she “has suffered violations of her constitutional rights, emotional anxiety, fear, humiliation, monetary loss, embarrassment, fear, pain and suffering and future pain and suffering.” Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that she was the victim of false rarest, unlawful search, excessive force, malic prosecution, and that her rights to freedom of religious expression under the First and Fourth amendments were also violated. The police claim that they arrested her because they suspected she was a suicide bomber, because of the way she was dressed.
Hate Crimes Surge Through 2015 and Beyond
According to data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hate crimes against Muslims increased by 67 percent in 2015, as reported by Mother Jones. FBI data reveals that there were 5,858 hate crimes in total for 2015, though that number is highly inaccurate. The FBI’s data on hate crimes is given by local, county, and state law enforcement agencies, and only data that is given at will is used in the FBI’s report. The Department of Justice (DOJ), on the other hand, estimated that there were 260,000 hate crimes in 2013. 92 percent of those hate crimes involved violence, according to the DOJ’s data, while the FBI reports that just 44 percent of hate crimes involved violence. Obviously, more accurate reporting is needed by local law enforcement agencies. Most hate crimes that get reported to the police never make their way into the FBI’s report, meaning that the extent of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and other intolerances are not clearly seen by the federal government.
Contact a Chicago Attorney Today
If you have been the victim of a civil rights violation or police misconduct, contact the Chicago civil rights attorneys of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
Racial bias is everywhere, and countless individuals are not given a speedy and impartial trial by their peers. When jury is selected for trial by the prosecution and defense, there must be a concerted effort to exclude any racial prejudices. This does not always happen, however. For instance, if the defendant is black and the jury is selected to be only made up of whites, and it can be proven that potential jury members were excluded because they were not white, the defendant may have sufficient evidence to show that their trial was flawed. First, three steps must take place in order for this to happen, according to the Illinois Criminal Law Digest.
Proving Racist Intent Behind State’s Peremptory Challenges
Illinois Appellate Court Finds Defendant Correct in Claims of Race-Based Peremptory Challenges
Recently, such a trial was found to be racially biased. The appellate court ruled in favor of the defendant and found that the State used 80 percent of its peremptory challenges against African Americans and only 8.3 percent of the jury as African American. The flaws in the jury selection and trial court’s decision were as follows: the defendant showed that the State accepted three white jurors with similar characteristics of the African American jurors who were dismissed. The State challenged the defendant’s reasons for claiming that the peremptory challenges were racially biased but the trial court did not conduct the necessary third-stage evaluation of the State’s reasoning.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Appeals Attorney Today
Sadly, all around the country, including Chicago, it is common for the prosecution to weight the jury against the defendant with racist intent. This is one of the many reasons that there is a disproportionate number of people of color in prison. Statistically, all-white or heavily white juries will come down harder on black or hispanic defendants than juries that include members of the defendant’s race. If your trial was flawed because of a peremptory challenge based on race, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago appeals attorneys of Barney and Hourihane as soon as possible at 312-854-0906 today.
Police misconduct does not always include excessive use of force. At times, officers of the law use their power to better their own situation. The law does not look kindly to such abuses of power. If you have been subject to this type of civil rights violation, contact an experienced attorney at once.
Enacting Revenge on an Ex Girlfriend
A Westville, Illinois, police officer was found guilty on November 15th of committing bribery and official misconduct, according to The News Gazette. The officer in question was accused of encouraging other police officers to pull over his ex girlfriend. He included information about when she might be driving home from drinking at a restaurant. An officer who came forward to state police internal investigators agreed to wear a wire and perform a sting operation on the defendant. He went to dinner with the defendant and said that the ex girlfriend was ticketed, and in return the defendant paid for his steak dinner. He was arrested on his way out of the restaurant. While the defendant and his attorneys argued that giving information about when a person may be drinking and driving was just normal police behavior and that he never violated her civil rights by trying to have her pulled over and cited for something that she was not doing, prosecutors successfully argued that he had a vendetta with his ex girlfriend, and was simply abusing his power to enact revenge.
Bribery is a Class 2 Felony in Illinois
According to Criminal Code 720 ILCS of Illinois, bribery is acting “with intent to influence the performance of any act related to the employment or function of any public officer, public employee, juror or witness, he or she promises or tenders to that person any property or personal advantage which he or she is not authorized by law to accept. Bribery is a Class 2 felony in Illinois. Furthermore, the officer who came forward about the other officer’s attempts to bribe others in the department to pull his ex girlfriend over could have faced punishment as well for not reporting an attempt of bribery. According to Illinois law, “Any public officer, public employee or juror who fails to report [bribery] forthwith to the local State's Attorney, or in the case of a State employee to the Department of State Police,” commits a class A misdemeanor. After reporting an incident of bribery, an officer is discharged from any further duty in the matter.
In addition to bribery charges, the office faces punishment for official misconduct as well. He was found guilty of official misconduct for knowingly performing an act which he knew he was forbidden by law to perform, and by taking actions with an intent to obtain a personal advantage for himself.
Call a Chicago, Illinois, Civil Rights Violations Lawyer Today for Immediate Help
If you civil rights have been violated by a law enforcement officer, contact the Chicago civil rights attorneys of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
A Donald Trump presidency is worrisome to many local residents, as it may come with significant changes to executive branch conduct. For example, some suggest that there is the very real possibility of local police forces no longer being held accountable by the Justice Department, according to Business Insider. A hallmark civil rights victory of the Obama administration was the reform and investigation into local police forces. If the Department of Justice sees that a department’s conduct has been unfit, the investigation can end in one of two ways: the police department agreeing to change its behaviors, or a more aggressive court-mandated consent decree, which is a reform that the Department of Justice closely monitors. Consent decrees are in peril of being done away with by the upcoming presidential administration.
The Benefit of Consent Decrees
Consent decrees are most common in cities that have a disproportionate number of police shootings in which black men are killed. A consent decree is an effective way in fundamentally changing the way a local police department acts, even when a heavily racist belief system has been in place for a long time. Chicago is one such place, and underwent a decree in 2015 that investigated the use of force and “disciplinary process for wayward officers,” according to the Chicago Tribune. While somewhat costly, decrees are a necessary measure to combat racism, inequality, excessive force, and other police misconduct. Additionally, some believe that in the long run, they save taxpayers substantial amounts in police misconduct legal bills and settlements. From 2003 to 2014, Chicago taxpayers spent $500 million on such legal fees.
Key Republicans Could Spell Disaster for Civil Rights Movement
The criminal justice system is undeniably in need of change. Sadly, institutionalized racism exists at a level that many white Americans simply refuse to believe, and civil rights probes into local police departments is a growing necessity. These civil rights probes have been conducted by the Department of Justice since the 1990s, with Pittsburgh being the first city to undergo a consent decree back in 1997. Now, with Trump and many other Republican policy makers rising to federal power, current and future probes and consent decrees could come to an immediate halt. Individuals that would likely be critics of these civil rights measures who are possibilities on Trump’s list of Attorney General include Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, and Pam Bondi. David Clark is in the running for Homeland Security, and has been openly hostile to what he describes as an “ongoing witch hunt by the Civil Rights Division.” The times ahead look to be bleak, but that does not mean that you and your family have no defense.
Call a Chicago Civil Rights Violation Attorney Today
If you have been a victim of police misconduct of any kind, do not hesitate to call the experienced Chicago civil rights attorneys at the law office of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance. We aggressively pursue the constitutional rights of our clients and hold the Chicago police department responsible for its wrongdoings.
Live Facebook broadcasting of police officers shooting unarmed victims, photos posted to twitter revealing police brutality at peaceful protests, and cell phone videos that make their way onto other social media platforms of officers beating and kicking unarmed African Americans has brought much of the nation’s attention to the seemingly growing problem of police misconduct. Or has the problem always been there and we just have not taken notices?
If you have been harassed, harmed, assaulted, or otherwise mistreated by a law enforcement agency in any way, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Chicago civil rights violation attorneys of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
NYC Stop and Frisk Operations to Reveal no Change in Racial Discrimination in Last 13 Years
There are many examples to look at when examining racial profiling and discrimination within the U.S. One needs only look at the rate of incarceration that blacks face compared to whites. Median income levels, number of elected positions within government, and level of education are all disproportionately skewed in favor of whites as well, and they have been for much longer than social media has been around. However, one of the most easily recognizable forms of discrimination is Chicago’s stop and frisk program. 72 percent of all Chicago stop and frisks were performed on blacks and nine percent were performed on whites in 2014, while whites made up 32 percent of Chicago’s population and blacks made up 32 percent as well, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
Similar inequality exists in New York, where the stop and frisk program has been going on for a longer period of time and can be examined to see if racial profiling has grown in the past decade or not. In 2003, 54 percent of all stop and frisks were performed on blacks, 32 percent on Latinos, and 12 percent on whites. Fast forward 13 years and again in 2015, 54 percent of all stop and frisks were performed on blacks, 29 percent on Latinos, and just 11 percent on whites, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. The Census reveals that blacks make up just 25.5 percent of New York City’s population, while Latinos make up 28.6 percent, and whites (the majority) account for 44 percent of the population.
While the data has existed for decades, police misconduct has only been given the attention that it deserves until recently, and that is because of social media and the growing prevalence of pocketable surveillance equipment: smart phones.
Contact an Aggressive Chicago Civil Rights Attorney Immediately for Experienced Counsel
Social media has helped refocus dialogue pointing to the huge inequalities that an American faces if his or her skin is not white. Unfortunately, social media has also become an outlet for tactless arguments blaming movements such as Black Lives Matter for the shootings of police officers in Dallas and other areas. Regardless, if you have been the victim of police misconduct, contact Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906.
Barney & Hourihane, LLP Files Suit Against City of Chicago for Officers' Beating and Strip Search of 14-Year Old Boy.
On September 20, 2016, Barney & Hourihane, LLP and the Law Office of Timothy J. Fiscella filed suit against two Chicago Police Officers and the City of Chicago for the beating and strip search of a 14-year old boy in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood. The beating and strip search was captured on a convenience store surveillance video and depicts Chicago Police officers beating the 14-year old boy over the head with a metal crutch and ordering him to pull down his pants and underwear. CBS Chicago covered the the incident in a special segment. The Complaint can be viewed below.
In January 2016 the Illinois Supreme Court set a new precedent in the state with their decision in the case of People v. Lerma. The appeal stemmed from a case initially heard in the Circuit Court of Cook County. In the circuit court the majority of evidence against Eduardo Lerma came from two eyewitness statements. However, the defendant was not allowed to put an eyewitness identification expert on the stand. An expert on eyewitness identification can address where faulty identifications are likely to occur. These are not always details apparent to a jury. The expert will point out details such as:
What the Supreme Court decided in People v. Lerma was that when the judge refused Lerma the opportunity to use an expert witness, he thereby failed to give Lerma a fair trial. In the opinion the Supreme Court wrote, “Advances in DNA testing have confirmed that “eyewitness misidentification is now the single greatest source of wrongful convictions in the United States, and responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.” Illinois courts, which had up until this case been notorious for denying expert witnesses to testify on eyewitness identification, are realizing the importance of having experts on the stand when a case is based almost solely on eyewitness statements instead of forensic science.
We have already seen the impact of this Illinois Supreme Court decision within the Chicago area. In 2006 a rapper from Rolling Meadows was killed and Patrick Taylor from Chicago was sentenced in 2011 during a case that relied heavily on four eyewitnesses. Taylor’s case was recently reviewed by the Illinois Appellate Court and will now receive a new trial. One of the assistant Cook County public defenders who defended Taylor told the Chicago Tribune, “The physical evidence pointed to another man.”
Whether or not Taylor is found innocent remains to be seen, however allowing a criminal defense team to present expert witnesses is critical. As a result of People v. Lerma we expect to see more appeals such as Taylor’s. Contact the law office of Chicago appeals attorneys Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906 for immediate assistance.
For over a decade agents from The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) have been conducting sting operations. In many of these operations, an undercover agent will act as an upset drug dealer and recruit, sometimes even coerce, young men in the neighborhood to help him rob a stash house. A stash house is where drugs, weapons, and occasionally people are hidden. However, in these sting operations the stash house is a fictitious house made up by ATF agents themselves. The young men caught up in these fake robbery attempts and are convicted of drug conspiracy and often violent crimes for brandishing weapons, many times provided by ATF agents.
This past September a newly released investigation from USA Today put these sting operations in the spotlight, accusing them of discriminating based on race, as they are most often in poor African American neighborhoods. The research, performed by a Ph.D. professor from Columbia University, was filed in a federal court in Chicago. As a result of his findings, Fagan is an expert witness in several court cases in Illinois.
All Defendants are Either Black or Hispanic
Looking across the cases presented by the Bureau, almost all of the defendants are either black or hispanic. Fagan’s report shows that statistically there is only a 0.1 percent chance that the Bureau could have unbiasedly picked a population so racially skewed as they did, even when solely looking at those who already have a criminal record. Often, small-time criminals were being caught up in the fictitious robberies, at times provided with guns by the ATF, and then charged with having committed serious crimes that comes with sentences such as life in prison.
Dismissal of Federal Charges
With this new report the University of Chicago’s legal clinic filed three motions to dismiss federal drug and weapons cases that targeted minority males. The clinic is expected to file motions for at least seven more cases within the next month. Since the report, several charges among other defendants were dropped without explanation.
The local Chicago police are not the only ones who are causing racial profiling concerns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is a federal agency that operates throughout the country. We are waiting to see the outcome of these upcoming cases. It is possible the defendants will be granted new trials. It is also possible that these cases will go all the way to the Supreme Court. If your civil liberties have been violated in any way, call the experienced Chicago civil rights violations attorneys of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906.
A Chicago police officer who unloaded his gun on a car full of unarmed African American teenagers recently plead not guilty to federal civil rights charges. The 2013 incident was spurred by the teens stealing a car, but the use of deadly fire is being charged at as excessive force by the officer, since no one’s life was in danger from the teens’ actions as they backed up away from his vehicle when he fired sixteen rounds into the car. Two of the teens were injured. The officer in question is facing federal criminal charges, and is the first Chicago officer of the past 15 years and 702 police shootings to face federal criminal charges, according to the Chicago Tribune.
However, this is not the first time this particular officer has fired his gun in the line of duty. In 2011 he killed a 19-year-old at close range; the mother of the victim was awarded $3.5 million in that unjustified shooting, but the settlement was later overturned by a judge. That judge’s decision is now being appealed. More recently, the city agreed upon a $360,000 settlement for the 2013 shooting in which the officer is facing federal criminal charges. Finally, the third shooting incident that the office committed occurred in 2010 when he shot and injured a 20-year-old woman. He has been on desk work for the past few years, still receiving a paycheck. He is now being charged with two accounts of deprivation of rights under the color of law.
Deprivation of Rights Under the Color of Law and the FBI
When there are allegations that violations of civil right statutes have occurred, The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is usually in charge of the investigation, according to the FBI. The FBI’s involvement in civil rights stems from fighting the KKK and the use of police brutality back in the early 20th century. Many of the later were violations that occurred under the color of law. Color of law is defined in West’s Encyclopedia of American Law as “the appearance of an act being performed based upon legal right or enforcement of statute, when in reality no such right exists.”
Many civil rights violations occur under the color of law. When serious bodily injury occurs from deprivation of rights under the color of law, the defendant may face up to 10 years in prison. If the intent was to kill, the defendant can face up to life in prison or the death sentence, according to Cornell Law. Of the hundreds of civil rights cases opened by the FBI, including the color of law 2013 police shooting case mentioned above, it also takes on civil rights cases involving hate crimes, human trafficking, and cases involving Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Civil Rights Attorney Today
If you have been bullied, harassed, injured, or physically or emotionally assaulted by the police, you may have had your civil rights unknowingly violated. Call an experienced Chicago civil rights violations attorney with Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906.