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The Weekend Desk Report

The Washington Post's Radley Balko expands Saturday on DNAinfo Chicago's report that 80 percent of the Chicago Police Department's dash-cam videos are missing audio due to "officer error" or intentional destruction.

The DNAinfo report, which Balko excerpts from and links to, reveals what is essentially known, widespread, systemic pre-planned obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence. There is little doubt that the command chain has known about this - and tacitly approved of it by not disciplining offenders for clear and serious violations of department rules and, likely, the law.

But it doesn't end there. You know who else has known? Anita Alvarez. Balko's description of her response compared to her response to citizens she has prosecuted is devastating:

This isn't a few bad apples. It's 80 percent. Why haven't these officers been prosecuted? Several years ago, a woman named Tiawanda Moore tried to file a report of alleged sexual assault by a Chicago PD officer. When the internal affairs officers with whom she was trying to file the complaint began to intimidate her, Moore began recording the conversation with her cellphone. Under Illinois law at the time, it was a felony to record a police officer without his or her permission. That law has since been struck down, but Anita Alvarez, the state's attorney for Cook County who had the power and discretion to decline to prosecute given the circumstances, pushed ahead and attempted to put Moore in prison. Her office did the same with Chicago artist Christopher Drew. Moore was eventually acquitted, in what was almost certainly an act of jury nullification.

So where has Alvarez's office been here? In December, Alvarez called the lack of audio in the Laquan McDonald video "frustrating" but added that "that's something I believe the Police Department has to address." For good measure, she said, "we would prefer to have the audio."

That's it? "We would prefer to have the audio"? At minimum, intentionally destroying dash-cam equipment is destruction of public property. You could argue that it's also tampering with or destroying evidence, particularly if there's proof that it was done after a shooting or other major incident. Alvarez tried to imprison a woman for recording the alleged harassment she received from police while attempting to file a report alleging sexual assault by another police officer. But when cops tamper with evidence of a police shooting of an unarmed man, all she can say is that it's "frustrating" and that she'd "prefer to have the audio"?

Alvarez is apparently only somewhat frustrated that what appears to be a significant portion of the Chicago PD - who, let's not forget, are government employees given the power to detain, arrest and kill - is openly and brazenly defying laws and policies aimed at holding officers accountable and keeping them transparent.

Of course, this kind of negligence isn't just a problem in Chicago - though, like everything else, it certainly seems to be a much deeper problem here than in other jurisdictions. As Balko points out, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2014 that officers there "tampered with voice recording equipment in dozens of patrol cars in an effort to avoid being monitored while on duty."


More bad behavior on the part of the CPD - and enabled by Alvarez, as reported by the Tribune:

Hours after he was shot multiple times by a Chicago police officer, Princeton Williamson was heavily sedated after emergency surgery when detectives came to question him at his hospital bedside.

One of the detectives, Brian Johnson, later testified that Williamson was alert and didn't appear to be in pain as he talked openly about what led to his shooting, according to a court transcript.

But two nurses gave dramatically different accounts than the detective, saying Williamson was in no condition to be interviewed because of a painful open stomach incision that required a continuous intravenous feed of morphine.

Williamson was in so much discomfort he could only mumble his words, one of the nurses said, so she communicated with him by having him squeeze her hands to answer questions yes or no.

An outraged Cook County judge promptly threw out two incriminating statements that Johnson said he had obtained from Williamson and blasted the detective for his "garbage" testimony.

Here's where Alvarez comes in:

A top assistant to State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, however, recently defended Johnson's testimony, saying it was corroborated by an assistant state's attorney who sat in on one of the interviews of Williamson. The assistant state's attorney was not called to testify at the hearing last February because prosecutors didn't think his testimony would be needed, said Fabio Valentini, the office's chief of criminal prosecutions.

"(The judge) is making a credibility determination based on the totality of the evidence," Valentini said of Obbish's decision. "That doesn't necessarily rise to the level of the person being a liar."

Not necessarily!


Here's the money quote:

"That's one of the biggest pieces of garbage I ever heard from a professional member of law enforcement," Obbish said.


In another report, the Tribune found "a pernicious, stubborn problem: that of officers whose alleged misconduct, while perhaps minor, leads to legal settlements that eventually cost city taxpayers greatly:"

The city since 2009 has settled seven lawsuits against [Sean] Campbell, a 17-year veteran officer. He ties for second among officers named in the most lawsuits settled by the city during those past six years, the Tribune's analysis of available data shows. His partner . . . [Steven] Sautkus, was named in four settled cases.

Both were part of a small group of officers - just 124 of the city's police force of roughly 12,000 - who were identified in nearly a third of the misconduct lawsuits settled since 2009, suggesting that officers who engaged in questionable behavior did it over and over. The Tribune's investigation also found that 82 percent of the department's officers were not named in any settlements. Still, the conduct of those 124 officers cost the city $34 million, the Tribune investigation found.

Well sure, but I bet those officers work in the city's toughest neighborhoods where a little tougher policing is called for.

The Tribune also found that while many officers as well as police union officials attribute claims of misconduct to the rough and tumble of working in crime-ridden neighborhoods, complaints against Campbell, Sautkus and their colleagues have often occurred while the group patrolled relatively low-crime areas, focused on quality-of-life issues.



"A lengthy 'complaint registry,' or 'CR,' history shouldn't necessarily disqualify an officer from teaching at the academy, says Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor newly appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as president of the Chicago Police Board, which disciplines cops," the Sun-Times reports.

"'Just because you have a CR record doesn't mean you can't be an impactful instructor,' says Lightfoot, who is also a member of the five-member task force Emanuel has appointed to review police accountability, oversight and training in the aftermath of the release of a video in late November that showed Officer Jason Van Dyke firing 16 shots into Laquan McDonald."

We know from the McDonald e-mails, by the way, that Lightfoot is an enthusiastic team player always eager to get out there and talk to the media - once she's been provided with the mayor's talking points.


"No one scripts anything for me. I am my own person. I always speak my own mind," Lightfoot told CBS2 Chicago.


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(Here's an enlarged version of the e-mail for easier reading.)



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And all of this is just the most recent cataloguing of misdeeds a police department, aided and abetted by mayors and prosecutors, that is a massive institutional failure. I mean, I haven't even mentioned decades of torture and mob infestation here.

But the mayor's task force is here!


The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #87: Blackhawks Gellin' Like A Felon
Exceeding expectations, even if Captain Serious stands accused of not being serious.

Plus: Bulls Losing Meaningless Games Against Crappy Teams In Dead Of Winter Just Like We Wanted Them To; White Sox Convention Opens At Southwest Suburban Motel 6; and John Fox's Former Teams Meeting In The Super Bowl.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Patti Smith's Horses forever changed what punk rock could be, beginning with its striking album cover and unforgettable opening line. The album turned 40 in December, so in celebration, Jim and Greg give Horses the Classic Album Dissection treatment. Later they review the new solo album from Clipse rapper Pusha T."

Personally, I have to say, enough with Horses. It's been dissected enough. Whaddya gonna do when it turns 50?


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report

The Best of Mystic Vibes

This 20th anniversary special by community producer Zezel McKenzie features lively performances by reggae artists Bunny Wailer, The Itals, Queen Omega, and more.

Saturday at 2 p.m. on CAN TV19.


Impact of State Budget Impasse

The state budget impasse affects health and human services organizations throughout Illinois. Panelists join host, the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, to discuss the fall-out.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21 and online.


Youth Employment Hearing

Teens and young adults present testimony to a panel of federal, state and local officials about being out of school and out of work at this forum hosted by the Alternative Schools Network.

Sunday at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19 and online.



Article fails to name the judge.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Friday, January 29, 2016




A sampling.




The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Deep state, deep city.


Posted on January 30, 2016

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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