An Open Letter by Antonio Romanucci, Partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC.
For nearly his entire career, Chicago police officer Glenn Evans has been a product of the current Fraternal Order of Police contract entered into with the City of Chicago that has been in place for more than 30 years. This contract is a pipeline to the code of silence and the blue shield, which we now know exists, according to the recent admission by the City of Chicago in a federal court filing. In my opinion, Evans has taken advantage of that contract, and the brotherhood which exists amongst the police, then chose to hide behind it in the name of “good policing” all the while, committing acts of unnecessary force, violence and savagery against innocent victims of our city.
I speak from personal experience about the actions of Evans. I am a civil trial attorney representing victims who have suffered at the hands of abusive police officers and municipalities whose policies are ineffective at stopping such abuses. I sue both police officers and municipalities. I am very careful about which cases I take, as indeed, there are two sides to every story.
As I feel about all of my clients, I am honored to represent a gentleman by the name of Rickey Williams. Williams alleges that Evans committed an act of abuse against him during a supposed gun stop. I’m not writing this to discuss the criminal trial or the current pending civil proceeding. I’m sharing this to inform the public of my personal experience with Evans. Because I am the attorney representing the victim testifying against him, Evans threatened to slash my throat while I was attending the criminal trial. Evans looked at me, no one in between us, locked his eyes on mine, placed his finger near his ear then slowly moved it across his throat, and only stopped when it reached his other ear. He then looked away. His intentions were clear and unequivocal to me.
I’ve been practicing law for more than 30 years, so I have seen a lot of tragedy, been around a lot of courtrooms, deposed a lot of witnesses, and tried many cases. I’ve even been threatened on prior occasions. But, never have I experienced such a blatant and brazen act of aggression. It was reported to the judge hearing the case, then IPRA and IAD took my statement regarding the incident. No one knows what will come of it. Yet, history shows that one-on-one statements don’t usually fall favorably on the one initiating the complaint.
What does this mean in the context of Evans and what Superintendent Eddie Johnson must do? Evans has over 100 complaint registers filed against him by Chicago’s tax paying citizens who claim that he abused his authority as a police officer. When you have more than 100 people making similar claims, is it possible each and every one of them is wrong? Statistically speaking I’d say it is nearly impossible. This is the code of silence at work with over 99% of all complaint registers involving deadly force or violence being dismissed. While the notion of brotherhood is noble, it should never facilitate lies and cover-ups for fellow officers for fear of being threatened and/or harmed themselves.
Superintendent Johnson must reevaluate the totality of the circumstances in which Evans has demonstrated a patterned behavior of making him unfit to serve and represent the citizens of our city. If Superintendent Johnson fails to terminate one of the worst repeat offenders in the Chicago Police Department, then he will perpetuate the code of silence and blue shield. He will also be sending a message that it’s ok for officers to violate their oath to protect and serve and act with impunity because there won’t be consequences for anything they do.
Simply put, bad cops will continue to be bad cops in today’s police department because they can. First it was Garry McCarthy who failed to discipline Evans; instead he promoted him. Superintendent Johnson now has the authority to do what he, the Mayor, the IPRA chief and others have been saying is necessary to restore the trust between the police and community: create a disciplined and transparent police department.