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Archive for January, 2017

Chicago Police Misconduct Attorneys Analyze New Department of Justice Report, Highlighting Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Civil Rights by the Chicago Police Department

Posted on: January 14th, 2017 by Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney

The U.S. Department of Justice released a 161-page report this week detailing its findings following a year-long probe into the highly contentious Chicago Police Department (CPD). Federal investigators determined that the CPD has routinely violated the constitutional rights of citizens for years in numerous ways, such as using excessive force, permitting racially discriminatory conduct and shooting individuals who posed no immediate threats.

The report, which has been called “scathing”, “blistering”, and “chilling”, highlights the “systemic deficiencies” in training and accountability that investigators say have led to a pattern or practice of using force by the Department, in violation of the Constitution.

Most unsettling but not surprising, is the confirmation that the CPD disproportionally uses force against African-Americans and Latinos, rarely facing any form of consequence for their actions. DOJ statistics showed the CPD used force almost 10 times more often against African-Americans than against whites. Yet somehow, rulings against officers for this type of unconstitutional behavior remain alarmingly low.

At Romanucci & Blandin our police misconduct attorneys know first-hand how individuals, primarily African American males, have suffered at the hands of Chicago police officers – especially as it relates to the pending federal class-action stop and frisk lawsuit against the City of Chicago and the CPD – which we are leading the fight on. Whether it’s with stop and frisk, fatal police shootings or excessive force, we have seen the rights of citizens here in Chicago violated by the CPD time and time again.

While the acknowledgement of these issues today is a step in the right direction, there is still a long road ahead before the people of Chicago, especially those which we represent whose rights have been routinely violated by CPD officers, can reach a level of trust with the battered department.  It is our hope that this report is leveraged to help make real and lasting change for a brighter tomorrow in our beloved city of Chicago.

The Trouble with Convicting a Police Officer

Posted on: January 9th, 2017 by Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney

Another police officer who has been accused of shooting an unarmed black man has walked away from court without a conviction.  On December 5th, a judge declared a mistrial in the shooting case of Walter Scott, allowing former police officer Michael Slager to return home.  While he is under house arrest and still awaits a federal trial beginning next year, this mistrial is raising tensions and questions yet again.

The number of police officers charged with murder or manslaughter has been on the rise. This can most certainly be attributed to the fact that video footage of such incidents is becoming increasingly easier to obtain.  Almost everyone has a video camera on their phone and can quickly capture any event unfolding.  In fact, between 2015 and 2016 there have been 30 officers charged with murder or manslaughter due to video evidence. Compared to the 48 officers charged between 2005 and 2014, that is a significant increase.

But why, if there is video evidence of these shootings, aren’t more police officers actually convicted?  Why, of the 78 police officers charged with murder or manslaughter since 2005, have there only been 27 convictions?  And why of those 27 convictions, has only one officer been convicted of murder?

There was alarming video evidence of Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott as he ran away, yet he was not convicted of murder.  Many legal experts agree that it’s very hard to convict an officer for a few reasons.  First, juries have a hard time blaming a police officer for shooting someone because they are aware that officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the public.  Because of this, people are hesitant to convict law enforcement of murder when the police officer states they were afraid for their safety or believed there was a threat of danger.

Secondly, police officers are often judged by a different set of standards.  Juries don’t look at these cases with a sense of hindsight but rather a sense of what would a reasonable officer have done at the scene?  Again, this makes it hard for any jury to second-guess an officer’s split-second decision to shoot someone.

A change needs to be made. We need to urge people to look past the badge and analyze the situation based on the facts and evidence – plain and simple. Our attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin are prepared to do just that and ensure that victims of police misconduct are not left without justice.