Independent Authority Recommends Fewer Shootings, More Warnings
The Chicago Police Department should tighten its rules on deadly force, according to a report by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). According to The Chicago Tribune, the quarterly report argues that the circumstances in which police officers are allowed to fire at suspects should be narrower. The IPRA thinks the Chicago police should aim to avoid shootings that fall within legal rules but may be avoidable nonetheless. Specifically, they recommend that the City revise its rule allowing officers to fire at fleeing felons. The rule should only allow such shootings when the police believe the felon is an immediate threat to the physical safety of police officers or others. They also recommend that police rules require warnings before officers fire their weapons and that police officers avoid drawing their guns unless they believe they will have to shoot.
IPRA Is Soft on Excessive Force
Other recommendations included making it easier for police disciplinary authorities to fire or suspend officers involved in shootings. The Chicago Police Department has rarely taken these steps. Only 3 of the 400 incidents in which police shot someone in the last decade have resulted in findings that the officer violated department use-of-force rules. Decatur Herald & Review reports that the IPRA itself recommends punishment in less than 4% of cases with sworn affidavits alleging police misconduct. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to replace the IPRA with a more aggressive oversight body, but so far no concrete plans have emerged. The latest report may be a sign that the IPRA is trying to reform itself in order to avoid more drastic restructuring by the mayor’s office.
Illinois Laws on Police Use of Deadly Force
The law of the land requires that officers use deadly force only to protect against likely harm. In Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court held that police officers couldn’t shoot at a fleeing suspect just because they were suspected of committing a burglary. It would only have been justified if they believed the suspect posed an immediate threat to someone’s safety. In that case, the suspect was unarmed and made no specific threats. Illinois courts have concluded that, in cases where a police officer suspects that a person has committed a forcible felony, the officer it is reasonable for the officer to use force, since the fleeing suspect poses an immediate threat to others. Chapter 5, Article 2 of the Illinois Criminal Code defines a “forcible felony” as including first and second degree murder, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnaping, or aggravated battery. Illinois courts tend to defer to the factual findings of internal police administrative reviews, except when those reviews seem obviously at odds with the evidence in front of the court.
Will Police Rules Satisfy Illinois Courts?
The standard the Supreme Court laid out in Garner is very broad, but protects suspects who do not pose any physical threat: police officers cannot fire weapons at such suspects. Chicago police are within Illinois law when they fire at a fleeing suspect if they believe that suspect committed a forcible felony, as defined by the Illinois Criminal Code. However, specific police department rules may require the officer to exhaust other methods of arresting the suspect without using lethal force. If the Chicago Police Department implements the recommendations of the Internal Police Review Authority quarterly report, then officers may need to give verbal warnings to suspects before using deadly force. If an internal review body decides that an officer has followed the departmental rules for use of deadly force, a court is likely to respect that finding, unless the evidence clearly contradicts the finding.
Contact a Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney
If you or someone you love has been the victim of police brutality, you need expert legal advice. Contact an experienced civil rights attorney at Barney & Hourihane in Chicago today and get the justice you deserve.
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Police Shooting Cases Change Use of Force
Recent headlines could change the way police use force during arrests, according to the Chicago Tribune. Criticism of perceived racism and police brutality in the high-profile shootings in St. Paul, Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana has added tension to already strained police-community relations in Chicago. The video of the fatal shooting of Laquan Davis late last year led to protests and lingering anger against police. Some police officers believe the critical attitude toward police has lead to less “proactive” policing, such as traffic stops.
Tension May Lead to Police Brutality
However, today’s shooting of five police officers at a protest in Dallas, Texas underlines the danger facing on-duty police. In the past few days, several other attacks have occurred against police in Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri, possibly in response to the accusations of police brutality in Louisiana and Minnesota, the Huffington Post reports. It’s possible for this perceived threat to lead to more use of force in arrests if police overestimate the danger of the situation. This could lead, ironically, to more incidents of police brutality.
The Law on Deadly Force in Illinois
Even if the social and political environment has changed, the law still lays down strict rules on the use of deadly force by police officers. In Tennessee v. Gardner, the Supreme Court held that police may only use deadly force when the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer or others. The Illinois Criminal Code repeats this rule on the use of force and elaborates on the type of situations that might pose a threat of serious physical harm. One specific situation is where the person the officer wishes to arrest has attempted or committed a violent felony that involved serious physical harm to someone, and where that person is attempting to escape. The statute specifically states that the use of a chokehold during an arrest should be considered deadly force. A chokehold is any contact with the neck or throat that is meant to reduce the intake of air.
No Unreasonable Use of Deadly Force
But when is a police officer justified in concluding that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer? In general, a court will evaluate whether the police officer’s decision was reasonable in the context of the facts as they appeared to him or her at the time of the use of force. For example, if a suspect reaches into their pocket, the police officer may only conclude that this justifies the use of lethal force if the circumstances at the time justify it, according to what a reasonable person would think. Since there is no hard and fast rule about what a reasonable person might perceive as a threat of physical injury, there’s no clear line between justified and unjustified use of force during an arrest.
Get Legal Help
Have you or someone you know been the victims of police brutality? If so, you’ll need expert legal guidance to help you get justice. Contact a police brutality lawyer at Barney & Hourihane in Chicago today to get the help you deserve.
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What is privacy?
Privacy means a lot of things, but in criminal court, and in the context of the 4th Amendment, it specifically means that an officer of the law cannot use evidence against you that he or she did not obtain through constitutionally approved search and seizure methods. These methods are complex and lend themselves to various interpretations, but essentially, they boil down to the following fundamental components:
1. An officer must have probable cause to perform a search.
2. If a search was illegal, then evidence seized cannot be used against someone unless an intervening event took place that would have created probable cause regardless of the illegal search (this is known as the “Attenuation Doctrine”)
The 4th Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures and has been a cornerstone of our expectations of justice since its ratification in 1791. As part of the Bill of Rights, the 4th Amendment and subsequent interpretations of it, dictate the limitations on our country’s police authority to infringe upon on our freedom. Essentially, our founding fathers deemed privacy to be a basic human right constituting a major component of freedom.
What are my Rights Regarding Unreasonable Search and Seizure?
Monday, May 21, 2016, the definition of privacy was changed as traditionally understood in the context of the 4th Amendment. In Utah v. Strieff, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing drug evidence, which was found as a result of an illegal stop, to be used against the defendant in criminal court. The arresting officer suspected the defendant of illegal drug activity and followed him to a convenient store and asked for his identification without cause. During this illegal stop, the police officer ran the suspect’s name through the database and discovered that the suspect had a warrant out for his arrest for a prior traffic violation. Upon learning about the warrant, the police officer performed a search of the suspect and did indeed find illegal drugs on him. The officer claimed that the discovery of the warrant satisfied the Attenuation Doctrine, so even though the stop was illegal, information obtained because of the stop gave the officer probable cause to search and subsequently arrest the suspect. The evidence was then allowed in court resulting in the suspect’s incrimination. The Supreme Court agreed.
There is of course the following argument: If John Doe has a traffic warrant out for his arrest, then he should be arrested. The polarizing issue here, however, is that the arresting officer suspected him of drug activity, and after performing an illegal stop, was able to use incriminating evidence found during the illegal stop. Essentially, the officer was able to justify the search based on a warrant for an unrelated traffic incident that he wouldn’t have known about except for the fact that he made the illegal stop. The concern is that an illegal stop can now become a means to an end, meaning a person abiding by the law now has a very different expectation of privacy. Not only has the interpretation of 4th Amendment changed in regards to a person’s basic freedoms, but we now must ask how what incentives remain in place for the police force to abide by the mandates of the 4th Amendment.
What do I do if I suspect I’ve been illegally stopped and searched?
It is critical to protect the delicate relationship between law enforcement officers and the rights of community members. If you experienced any violation of your civil rights as a result of police misconduct, contact Barney & Hourihane today to discuss your case with a dedicated Chicago civil rights attorney.
Police officers are empowered with certain rights and obligations to uphold and enforce the law. Society has recently called into question the age old notion of “protect and serve”. As more and more cases of police brutality are reported and spread across media outlets, debates over how much force an officer should use have ensued. While police officers have the right to use appropriate force to control dangerous situations, civil rights laws provide remedies when willful police conduct violates an individual’s civil liberties. The fine line rests between the appropriate amount of force and police misconduct in a particular situation.
Understanding the Rules
The Chicago Police Rules and Regulations state that the use of reasonable physical force may be necessary in situations which cannot be otherwise controlled. Officers are permitted to use whatever force is reasonable and necessary to protect others or themselves from bodily harm. The law also states that the use of excessive and unwarranted force or brutality will not be tolerated under any circumstances. In the wake of several recent cases of police misconduct, it’s important for Chicago citizens to understand legal rights and remedies when stopped and questioned by a police officer. Police officers cannot search your vehicle without permission. You have the right to ask for a lawyer and to be protected by your Constitutional rights.
While citizens have the right to protection from misconduct, police officers have rights to stop and question suspects. Respect and cooperation is suggested. However, if your rights are violated, always write down the officer’s name and badge number. If you are injured, seek medical attention and take photos of the injury as soon as possible. Lawyers like [name of the client] can support you in your effort to seek remedy for violation of your rights
Beyond mere remedial efforts, the City of Chicago is taking recent events into account as officials seek reform. In an effort to better scrutinize issues of police misconduct, Chicago passed a new mandate requiring police officers to issue “stop receipts” after approaching someone. This mandate, amongst law enforcement reforms, have bi-partisan support and the backing of police unions. These measures are a positive step in the path to justice.
Chicago Civil Rights Attorneys
If you or a loved one feel a police officers has used unjustifiable force in an encounter, please contact our office today to see how we can help. Our Chicago police misconduct lawyers have years of experience in police misconduct and civil rights cases. We will discuss the facts of your case with you and explore whether you may have a civil rights claim.
It’s no secret that the city of Chicago has been having a difficult time trusting the Chicago PD. There has been a rise in police violence and more and more officers have been accused of misconduct. There are currently over one hundred misconduct cases being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), and the citizens of the city are not happy. Last week, however, the IPRA did something unprecedented; they released the files of these misconduct cases online for the public to view.
Police misconduct cases have been in the headlines more often than not lately, and this release comes as one of the first positive pieces of news. The country has been on high alert for reports of police brutality, and the citizens of Chicago especially so after the delayed release of the video that shows Laquan McDonald being shot.
The release includes records from as far back as five years ago, and the public can now access videos, audio recordings, and early reports from all of these cases. The common theme seems to be the firing of a gun; if a firearm went off in the presence of a police officer, the record is now likely available. The videos include some graphic incidents. One shows a man who assaulted a bus driver being shocked with a Taser and shot by the police, and another shows a van coming onto the sidewalk at a group of officers who then fired at the vehicle, killing one of the passengers. Others show very little action, and include footage of officers waiting around or an empty parking lot.
What This Means
This release comes at a good time for Chicago. The increased level of transparency will help to improve the relationship between the PD and those who live in the city, which will in turn help improve morale as a whole. While most are praising this decision, some have found aspects that they find more harmful than helpful. For example, identities of witnesses could be made public if they are recognized either in the videos or audio clips, and due process could become an issue as these are still pending cases. Others think that the release was a good idea but have found issues with the details. The timing of the videos’ release is one concern, as some believe that the 60 day allowance for posting is too long.
This release did not happen voluntarily on the part of the IPRA, however. The Police Accountability Task Force, a group hand picked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, issued a mandate calling for the release. The interesting part comes next; not only did the Task Force issue the mandate, but they have recommended dissolving the IPRA as a whole. This is mainly due to the lack of confidence the public has in the group, as they do not have a good history of conducting their investigations. In fact, there is talk of the next group being comprised of independent civilians, which will hopefully increase the trust between the group and the public and overall bolster the PD’s reputation.
Contact a Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney
This new level of transparency will hopefully help to improve the city’s relationship with its police department. However, if you or someone you know has questions or concerns related to this, contact us. Our attorneys can help you better understand these changes and discuss your cases.
The statute of limitations is a key factor in any court case; it can truly make or break the case as a whole. In the case of Park Ridge Police Commander Jason Leavitt, for example, a Cook County judge ruled that the statute of limitations had run. However, this May, a panel of judges on the First District Appellate Court overruled that judge, and Leavitt is once again facing criminal charges for the alleged beating of two teenagers in 2006.
Today, stories of police misconduct are all over the news, but it is rare to see something that happened ten years ago. One night in October, 2006, Leavitt was driving home from work in his civilian clothes when something shattered his back window. Two teenagers, whose names have not been disclosed due to their juvenile status at the time, had been shooting rocks at passing cars using their slingshots. According to the teens, Leavitt chased them as they ran, catching one and knocking him down. Leavitt then hit one boy in the head, knocking him down, then straddled him and continued to punch him. Another officer removed Leavitt, who then attacked the other teen as he was brought to the police car by more officers.
Both of the teens filed federal suits in 2007, which were settled. Then, in 2009, prosecutors looked more closely at the case, fearing a police cover-up. Later in 2009, two days before the statute of limitations was to expire, Leavitt was indicted by a grand jury in Cook County, and the indictment was sealed. This is where it gets tricky; after this happened, prosecutors investigated the department for 13 months to see if other officers played a part in the alleged beating or in covering for Leavitt. In 2012, the Cook County judge found that the statute had run during that time period, and as such dismissed the charges. The appellate court, however, found that the investigation was a justified delay, that Leavitt’s ability to put on his case was not harmed, and therefore that the statute had not run and the case could continue.
What This Means for Leavitt
That brings us to today. The details of the incident have remained the same over the past ten years, and the teen who was knocked to the ground testified at the trial this May. While his story remains the same, he has admitted that he can not identify the person who assaulted him. He was the only witness to take the stand, though the officer who pulled Leavitt off the teen was petitioned to testify, and so the case is waiting for that to continue, most likely on June 15, 2016.
Contact a Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney
The relationship between police officers and community members is a delicate one. It is built on trust and protection, and when a police officer violates that trust, a community can be thrown off kilter. In this situation, it is important for the officer to be charged and punished accordingly for his behavior. If you experienced any altercation or witnessed police misconduct, contact Barney & Hourihane today to discuss your case with a dedicated Chicago civil rights attorney.
A major topic in the city of Chicago recently has been the Chicago PD. More specifically, the corruption, brutality, and racist tendencies frequently exhibited by its police officers. The conversations came to a head this past year when Mayor Rahm Emanuel hid the video footage of the death of Laquan McDonald, and then kept the cop who shot him on the payroll for the following year. Even without Emanuel’s misstep, however, the police department has been facing scrutiny for their overall policies, practices, and mistakes. The community has lost its faith in the Chicago PD, and it is clear that changes need to be made.
The reputation of the police department has been called into question consistently over the past few years, as Chicago has seen a rise in crime and, in response, gotten more media attention. The death of McDonald on October 20, 2014 brought these issues to light again, as the officer charged with first-degree murder denied what had happened. Additionally, the other officers on the scene were accused of lying about the incident, and Mayor Emanuel hid the video for over a year. These facts did not surprise many Chicagoans, as such behavior has occurred in the past.
This particular shooting death comes on the heels of many other police shootings across the country, and perhaps this is why the PD has come under such intense scrutiny. The country is on alert for corrupt cops who are trigger-happy and don’t face consequences for their actions. There is now a call for police departments to be reorganized in a way that will help the officers better protect us while following the law. For example, some believe the officers should be retrained in all areas, such as search and seizure, how to properly frisk, and the use of force and what is considered excessive. This would be a good place to start to build the PD’s reputation back up; at the very least, it would help for Chicagoans to see its officers trying a new tactic and attempting to make amends.
Is Race An Issue?
While the police department itself is quick to deny that race is a factor in the performance of their jobs, the numbers say otherwise. Black citizens in Chicago make up 72 percent of the street stops, and 74 percent of those shot over the past 7 years were black. Even Mayor Emanuel admitted to this fact after McDonald’s death, but quickly turned the focus on what they were going to do about it. Some suggestions included adding a Deputy Chief of Diversity to the department, releasing videos of incidents with 60 days, and generally being more transparent. The inclusion of these could help bolster their reputation, as citizens will be better able to understand what goes on and trust that the officers are doing their best.
Need Legal Help?
Cases involving police brutality or misconduct are becoming all too common. Each case is different, though, and often the facts can get confusing or overwhelming. Contact Barney & Hourihane today to discuss your case with a dedicated Chicago civil rights attorney. For more information, see related blogs posts.
It’s almost impossible to go literally one week without reading another story in the Chicago media about the city paying out another huge settlement in a police misconduct case. The latest settlement to get attention in Chicago newspapers and TV is for $3.2 million, but this is literally a drop in the bucket to what the city has paid out in recent year. Since 2004, the city of Chicago has paid out more than $500 million to settle complaints of police misconduct. And each of these latest claims alone has settled for more than $1 million.
So what police misconduct resulted in these latest settlements? Read on to find out.
Chicago Police Shootings Continue to be a Problem
Earlier this month, the City Council Finance Committee approved two misconduct settlements. The first is for $2.2 million, while the second is for $1 million.
In the first incident, a 23-year-old man reportedly hit another vehicle and drove off while on his way to his overnight job at a sausage factory.
Police claimed that after this initial hit-and-run the man forced a police cruiser off the roadway slammed into the back of another vehicle. Police then claimed that they blocked the man’s vehicle into an alley, and the man pinned one off-duty officer to the front of his car.
Chicago police officers then fired 42 shots at the man, striking him 16 times.
However, forensic evidence has raised serious questions about the account given by police officers. If indeed an officer was stuck by the man’s vehicle, he could not have fired his gun at him as he claims. In addition, tire tracks at the scene, purportedly from the suspect’s vehicle, appear to have to have been faked. Evidence later uncovered in the course of the lawsuit also showed that the off-duty police officer had been drinking before the incident, and Chicago police did not thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the suspect’s death. For example, rather than interview witnesses, one police officer submitted a report simply made up of a typed narrative from another officer.
The second settlement, for $1 million, also included allegations of the police fabricating that evidence. In that case, a 27-year-old man under investigation for alleged involvement a cell phone theft ring, was shot by police after allegedly pinning a police officer between two vehicles. However, just as in the other case, forensic evidence called that official story into question. It actually appears as if the man may have been shot while fleeing the scene rather than harming a police officer.
Contact a Chicago Police Misconduct Lawyer
There is perhaps no greater breach of trust than when police officers ignore the law to injure or kill innocent people without provocation. But as these latest settlements illustrate, such activity is all too common in the city of Chicago. If your civil rights have been violated by police officers, you too may be entitled to compensation from the city. Contact Barney & Hourihane today to discuss your case with a dedicated Chicago civil rights attorney.
In the city of Chicago, allegations of police misconduct made by citizens are supposed to be investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). This board is tasked with determining whether police officers are acting in accordance with the law, and it’s supposed to hold them accountable if they act out of bounds. Yet one recent study by the city found that the IPRA is chronically understaffed and underfunded. The IPRA can’t even fully investigate 40 percent of the complaints that come before it.
That has long led to many Chicago leaders calling for the IPRA to be disbanded and replaced with a civilian organization. Those calls have long been ignored, but in the wake of constant reporting on Chicago’s police misconduct epidemic, it looks like the city is now finally going to do something about the IPRA’s ineffectiveness.
Emanuel Calls for Independent Board to Replace IPRA
In a Chicago Sun-Times editorial published earlier this month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote that it is time to replace the IPRA with a civilian board that will increase accountability and oversight of police officers in the city.
Emanuel’s comments come in the wake of the release of a report from the Task Force on Police Accountability that he created. After a four a month report, the task force issued a report last month that also called for the current IPRA to be abolished. The report claimed that Chicago police have little regard for the rights of minority suspects.
Emanuel did not previously introduce plans to replace the IPRA and claimed it was not part of his agenda prior to reviewing the task force’s report. The mayor was complimentary to toward the current leadership of the IPRA, but said that replacing it with an independent civilian board is necessary to rebuild trust between Chicago police and residents. He has also pledged to increase funding and resources for the board that replace the IPRA.
Many of those critical have been supportive of the mayor’s plan. Still, it’s important to note that there are many unknowns about Emanuel’s plan. The mayor has not disclosed exactly what this new board will look like, who will be eligible to sit on it, or how it will be able to better investigate complaints of police misconduct. These details should be brought before the city council at an upcoming meeting, and while the initial proposal has found support, it still remains to be seen whether the council will embrace the details of the proposal.
Chicago Police Misconduct Lawyer
If the city of Chicago wants to rein in police misconduct, replacing the ineffective IPRA with a civilian board is a good step. However, it still doesn’t end the rampant police misconduct that many Chicago residents live in fear of, or compensate past victims for their injuries. If you believe Chicago police officers have violated your civil rights, an attorney may be able to make you whole ago. Contact Barney & Hourihane online or on the phone to discuss your case today.
Last week, we told you about the problem of “testilying” in Cook County. This is an all-too common practice in Cook County in which police officers take the stand at a criminal case and give knowingly false testimony. And sadly, judges and prosecutors rarely call police out on their lies, even if they’re glaringly obvious. However, the recent attention given to this issue has finally motivated the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to Act, and defense attorneys in some cases are now receiving disclosure notices letting them know that a police officer may have given false testimony in a case they handled.
Six Chicago Police Officers Under Investigation for False Testimony
A follow-up article by the Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Police Department has begun an investigation into whether as many as six police officers lied on the stand in the course of criminal proceedings. The department has already removed one officer from patrols because of his suspected false testimony.
In the case of that officer, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has filed a disclosure notice to defense counsel in a case reported on in the Tribune’s previous article. In that case, the officer was suspected of lying about how whether he had reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop that resulted in a $50,000 drug bust. The state’s attorney’s office may issue disclosure notices in other cases involving this officer, as well as additional officers who may have lied on the stand.
The disclosure notices do not automatically vacate a conviction, but they let a defense attorney know that a witness may have provided false testimony, or at the very least that new evidence has rendered that testimony highly questionable. The disclosure notice can be the basis for appealing a conviction, and some attorneys are already using this information as grounds to testimony the credibility of this officer in other cases.
In addition, prosecutors are reviewing the transcripts of prior cases involving these officers to determine whether perjury charges may be appropriate. Perjury is a criminal action that can carry substantial prison time in the event of a conviction. And if prosecutors do decide to pursue criminal charges against these officers, those prosecutions could reveal evidence that could also make it easier for the wrongfully convicted to pursue appeals or even civil rights lawsuits against the Chicago Police Department. This could also motivate the department to pursue stronger internal discipline actions against officers who lie in court.
Chicago Criminal Defense Law
A fair jury trial is the cornerstone of the American criminal justice system. Defendants have a right to not have their conduct called into question by untruthful testimony, but sadly recent stories in Chicago media show that hasn’t always been the case in Cook County. If you believe a police officer falsely testified against you and it resulted in a wrongful conviction, you may be able to get your conviction vacated on appeal. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.