Read How Chicago Police Routinely Violated Civil Rights and Covered It Up

The Justice Department's scathing report finds a pattern of unconstitutional force, retaliation, and a code of silence.


Armando L. Sanchez/TNS/Newscom

Chicago police engaged in a pattern and practice of violating the civil rights of black and Latino citizens, used unconstitutional force, and failed to properly investigate officer misconduct, according to the results of a long-awaited investigation released Friday by the Justice Department.

The wide-ranging 164-page report—the result of an investigation launched by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in 2015 in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald shooting—found Chicago police routinely used poor police tactics that resulted in unnecessary and unconstitutional lethal force. Furthermore, the report found the department's storied "code of silence" and poor internal protocols led to police misconduct not being properly investigated. In other cases, officers retaliated against witnesses to keep them from reporting misconduct.

"One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive, and transparent," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement Friday. "Sadly, our thorough investigation into the Chicago Police Department found that far too many residents of this proud city have not received that kind of policing. The resulting deficit in trust and accountability is not just bad for residents—it's also bad for dedicated police officers trying to do their jobs safely and effectively. With this announcement, we are laying the groundwork for the difficult but necessary work of building a stronger, safer, and more united Chicago for all who call it home."

The report found "numerous instances" where police officers shot people who were fleeing and posed no threat:

In one case, a man had been walking down a residential street with a friend when officers drove up, shined a light on him, and ordered him to freeze, because he had been fidgeting with his waistband. The man ran. Three officers gave chase and began shooting as they ran. In total, the officers fired 45 rounds, including 28 rifle rounds, toward the man. Several rounds struck the man, killing him. The officers claimed the man fired at them during the pursuit. Officers found 26 no gun on the man. However, officers reported recovering a handgun nearly one block away. The gun recovered in the vicinity, however, was later determined to be fully-loaded and inoperable, and forensic testing determined there was no gunshot residue on the man's hands.

The Chicago Independent Police Review Authority found the officers' actions were justified.

Chicago police also used non-lethal force with abandon, including tasing children for non-criminal conduct or minor violations:

In one incident, officers hit a 16-year-old girl with a baton and then Tasered her after she was asked to leave the school for having a cell phone in violation of school rules. Officers were called in to arrest her for trespassing. Officers claimed the force was justified because she flailed her arms when they tried to arrest her, with no adequate explanation for how such flailing met the criteria for use of a Taser. This was not an isolated incident. We also reviewed incidents in which officers unnecessarily drive-stunned students to break up fights, including one use of a Taser in drive-stun mode against a 14-year-old girl. There was no indication in these files that these students' conduct warranted use of the Taser instead of a less serious application of force.

The report found that the department often does not investigate firearm and taser discharges where no one is hit. In the cases it does investigate, the probes "suffer from serious investigative flaws that obstruct objective fact finding."

"Civilian and officer witnesses, and even the accused officers, are frequently not interviewed during an investigation," the report says. "The potential for inappropriate coordination of testimony, risk of collusion, and witness coaching during interviews is built into the system, occurs routinely, and is not considered by investigators in evaluating the case."

In addition to poor investigative techniques is the Chicago Police Department's "code of silence," in which officers refuse to speak out against fellow officers or lie to protect them. The Justice Department found that "a code of silence exists, and officers and community members know it."

This code is apparently strong enough to incite officers to lie even when they have little to lose by telling the truth. In one such instance, an officer opted to lie and risk his career when he accidentally discharged his pepper spray while dining in a restaurant—a violation that otherwise merits minor discipline. Even more telling are the many examples where officers who simply witness misconduct and face no discipline by telling the truth choose instead to risk their careers to lie for another officer. We similarly found instances of supervisors lying to prevent IPRA from even investigating misconduct, such as the case discussed elsewhere in this Report in which a lieutenant provided a video to IPRA but recommended that the case be handled with nondisciplinary intervention rather than investigated, describing the video as only depicting the use of "foul language" and affirmatively denying that it contained any inflammatory language or that the victim made any complaints — both patently false statements as demonstrated by the video.

Worse than the code of silence among officers, however, is the apparent widespread use of intimidation and retaliation to silence witnesses of police misconduct:

We heard from numerous advocates and individual victims of police abuse that officers who engaged in force against a civilian routinely file baseless police assault and battery charges against the victim and other witnesses to the misconduct. In 2006, a patron in a restaurant claimed that after being beaten up by several off-duty officers, he and witnesses to that incident were falsely arrested for battery to cover up the incident. In another case in 2009, the City settled for $100,000 a lawsuit alleging a CPD lieutenant falsely arrested him for battery to cover up the officer's abuse of the plaintiff. In 2014, the City settled another lawsuit for $30,000 where a driver alleged an off-duty officer aimed his gun at him and then filed false battery charges to cover it up when other officers arrived on the scene.

The report found that retaliation, combined with lax internal investigations, could make it easy to sweep possible misconduct under the rug, such as in this horrifying example:

In one illustrative case in which a woman alleged that an officer had raped her, she refused to provide BIA the officer's name, and refused to sign an affidavit, telling the investigator that the officer had told her that he had "bigger power" over her and would "fuck her up" if she went to the hospital or the police. The woman alleged that the officer had also threatened her girlfriend, a possible witness to the rape. Despite providing a detailed account of the alleged rape—on two separate occasions—to the investigator, the investigator did not follow up on the results of the rape kit, did not attempt to interview a known witness, and did not canvass for witnesses at the location where the victim and the officer reportedly met. Nor does the investigator appear to have sought an affidavit override. The BIA investigator instead closed the investigation, "based on the victim's refusal to cooperate any further."

The Civil Rights Division is now scrambling to wrap up its investigations and finalize consent decrees with cities before Donald Trump is sworn in as president on Jan. 20. Trump's pick to succeed Lynch as Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, has been a stalwart defender of police and has questioned its aggressive investigations into civil rights violations by police.

In a 2015 Senate hearing, Sessions said, "There is a perception, not altogether unjustified, that this department, the Civil Rights Division, goes beyond fair and balanced treatment but has an agenda that's been a troubling issue for a number of years."

NEXT: One Final Expansion of the Surveillance State as Obama Heads for the Door

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    1. As if this shit was confined to just Chicago.

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  1. “One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive, and transparent,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement Friday, before dissolving into a giggling mess at the thought.

    1. What do you expect from a poor coal miner’s daughter?

    2. One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that every American enjoys [government] that is lawful, responsive, and transparent

      Well, she’s been as successful as the rest of the Obama administration.

  2. Of all the ways the Obama administration has be a major fucking disappointment, it is their failure to pursue police misconduct — particularly against minorities — that is the most galling. It’s almost as if supporting public sector unions is more important that looking after the people that put you into office.

    1. He tried, oh Lord how he tried, but the repukes had control of congress, so his hands were tied.

      Chicago wouldn’t have these problems if they’d stop electing the straight republican ticket to their city government every term, who then starve the police of much needed funds.

    2. particularly against minorities

      That’s probably the only group for whom they have pursued even nominally or rhetorically. I don’t see how injustice against “minorities” should take precedence over anyone else or vice versa.

      1. I think the point being, police misconduct against minorities is squarely in the progressive wheelhouse and he couldn’t even get that right.

        Maybe he’ll award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mike Brown posthumously.

        1. yes.

          Libertarians want police misconduct eliminated.

          Progressives claim to care about government abuse of minorities. If Obama had fulfilled progressive dreams, the Justice Department would have been stomping on big city police departments and not given a rat’s ass about police abuse of poor white trash.

    3. It isn’t only the Police Unions. The Progressive Left needs the minorities the Police prey upon to feel persecuted, so they will keep voting for the Party that makes the loudest noise about protecting them. So the Democrats all talk about police misconduct, but only rarely do anything constructive about it. They may do SOMETHING, but it massively unlikely to be anything but A) a sop to the poor brown folks and B) a way to make the police FEEL beleaguered (so that they, too, will cling to the Lefty power structure.

      And this is the worst aspect of this ongoing Mongolian Cluster F*ck; thanks in large part to the manipulations of the Progressive Left (not that the Republican Establishment hasn’t been F*cking Clusters too) we have both out of control and unaccountable police forces AND “Civil Rights” groups harassing Police with charges that won’t hold water. The nominal complaints of both sides are true, and the Liberal Left is making both worse as fast as they can.

    4. Neither Obama nor any of his lackeys give half a shit about the people that put them in power. In fact, they have openly showed contempt for them.

      1. The best example of an Obama supporter that I have seen, one that will live on in my memory forever, was the dunce who discovered his health insurance premiums and deductibles were skyrocketing and said “I supported Obamacare. I wanted everyone to have health insurance, I just didn’t know I would be the one paying for it.”

        Go die in a fire you idiot POS.

        1. it doesn’t have to be a fire.

    5. The most galling? Not by a long shot.

  3. The Chicago Independent Police Review Authority found the officers’ actions were justified.

    I’m having Ayn Rand fever dreams of police chiefs and Chicago Review Chairmen meeting up in quiet little bars for good conversation and a pint.

  4. Yet another sterling example of Pure-Hearted, Progressive, Single-Party Rule. Rahm would never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste(tm).

    Perhaps he can solicit his brother, Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel (and noted ObamneyCare proponent) for a Final Solution to this problem.

    1. Rahm would never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste(tm).

      Try to make jokes that make sense. You’re supposed to be so smart, after all.

      1. It wasn’t a joke. Dementia much?

        1. Try applying the quote to this situation, bro.

          1. Irony, it’s not just for Alanis, kitten.

            1. So you still don’t understand why your jokes aren’t funny.

              I guess it makes sense.

              1. Another sock? It never ends.

              2. You’re still confusing me with someone who has any fucks to give you. I’m fresh out.

                Try lithium instead.

                1. No, I’m not. I’m telling you that you’re stupid and unfunny.

                  1. Devastating rejoinder. And bless your heart, pumpkin, I’m officially out of fucks now. Poka.

                    1. If you tell me you’re out of fucks a few more times it might start being funny I guess.

  5. The Chicago Police Union says the report was “rushed” to get it out before Trump was in office.

  6. Read How Chicago Police Routinely Violated Civil Rights and Covered It Up

    No way, that sounds depressing as hell.

    1. Do a ctl+f search for “fuck” in the report for some real fun times.

      1. Only fifteen “fuck”s? That’s less than the number of times i said that while skimming the report.

    2. Yeah. It’s Friday. Let’s keep the punches above the belt, please.

      1. CJ is the new Balko, and that means massive, near-fatal nutpunches on Fridays. Sorry.

  7. I kind of feel like we already knew all of this already. It’s kind of ironical that the Democrats in the Windy City are going to benefit from Trump winning in November. It won’t be as difficult for nothing to change.

  8. It’s nice to see all these independent groups creating reports on what kind of hell cities are going through. It’s really inspiring to know that someone is taking notice. I can tell that any day now things will start to change for the better.

    1. You’re entirely too optimistic, Sparky. It’s clear your infection has cleared up and you’re buoyed by any scrap of positive news. Fortunately, like your stones, it will pass.

      1. You’re entirely too optimistic

        They created a report, doc. A report!. Everyone knows that’s the step that comes right before Do Something.

  9. “In one illustrative case in which a woman alleged that an officer had raped her”

    Government, it’s the women we rape together!.

    1. Government, it’s the women we rape together!.

      Euro-landia and the ME agree wholeheartedly. In fact, this is Frau Merkel’s campaign slogan.




  10. I guess my only comment is that while I believe the Chicago Police Department routinely violated the civil rights of the citizens it interacted with, I also don’t trust the present (or future for that matter) Justice Department (especially the Office of Civil Rights) to fairly investigate the matter.

    1. Yeah but that’s only because you’ve heard of a government before.

  11. How do all these Red State, hillbilly, southern, redneck towns like Chicago get away with this?

    1. Something something cis-het racist patriarchy.

  12. used unconstitutional force, and failed to properly investigate officer misconduct

    No worries – I am sure the tax-cattle will be able to cough up a few hundred million more $ to pay for all the lawsuits resulting from same.

    Hey, wait a minute…I LIVE IN ILLINOIS!!!

    *breaks down sobbing*

  13. It such s shame that Chicago is under the political control of Obama’s ideological opponents…oh, wait.

  14. 47.

    That is how many people were shot in Chicago over the Christmas weekend this year. 2300 for the year. I am sure it is the Republican’s fault.

    It is really sad when the POS thugs on the CPD look like saints compared to the citizenry. We should just burn the fucking place to the ground.

  15. Last year Chicago had a Mayor that wasn’t a Democrat?


    I find it ENTIRELY unshocking that cities with entrenched corruption tend to be run monolithically (that means ONE party) and specifically monolithically DEMOCRATIC party run

    and now of course we have a MASSIVE two year spike in homicide and violent crime due to Ferguson effect – cops depolicing in Chicago due to BLM Obama Local Govt and MSM throwing them under the bus

    we see this pattern constantly

    Homicides and shootings shot up 40% within TWO MONTHS of the officers being indicted in the *(bogus) Freddie Gray Indictments in Baltimore and homicide is now at all time high

    Chicago Cops – combine a culture of corruption citywide (hint: police is just another agency. corrupt cities tend to have corrupt PDs) and the throw the cops under the bus mentality – you get depolicing and you get soaring violent crime- Ferguson Effect

    1. I’m having trouble reconciling depolicing with enhanced interrogation.

      That is to say, well before anything like Furgeson happened CPD was beating the shit out of witnesses, shoving guns in innocent informants mouths, and hauling suspects away to black sites.

      IPRA has been full of ex-DEA Agents, ex-Cops, and ex-investigators from various other parts of the government almost from it’s inception. What BLM and/or ‘depolicing’ have to do with the issue, I have no idea.

      1. CPD is corrupt and does bad shit

        CPD has also depoliced substantially.

        these aren’t mutually exclusive

        1. these aren’t mutually exclusive

          If anything, it’s a perfect combo. Get paid more to do less!

        2. these aren’t mutually exclusive

          I’m not saying they’re mutually exclusive. I’m saying that they’re unrelated. CPD has a long history of corruption despite rising and falling policing levels (both in absolute numbers or per capita). The only way you associate them is if you assert that by hiring police officers, you’re (or they’re) inherently hiring thugs and corrupt cronies.

    2. MASSIVE two year spike in homicide and violent crime

      Either somebody is fudging the numbers or else your definition of massive and mine is quite different. The “uptick” that I’ve seen doesn’t rise above statistical noise.

      1. One murder is a tragedy. 800 is just a statistic.

    3. now of course we have a MASSIVE two year spike in homicide and violent crime due to Ferguson effect

      Correlation? Causation?

      cops depolicing in Chicago due to BLM Obama Local Govt and MSM throwing them under the bus

      Geez, from what I can tell, being “thrown under the bus” doesn’t include getting fired or indicted for obvious criminality, because that hasn’t really happened to cops. The Ferguson effect looks to me like cops not doing their jobs because they are scared to death they might actually have to do them as if they might, maybe, someday, be held accountable for the unnecessary violence they commit.

      Boo. Fucking. Hoo.

      1. The entire point of being a cop is being able to do whatever you want. After all, who is going to stop you?

        So it is no surprise that the slightest rumor of accountability will result in them not doing their job.

  16. Hey Reason, what’s with the never ending auto play advertisements?

  17. Chicago sucks!…..14605.html

    Chicago’s depraved culture…..14929.html

  18. also, for the record- The Justice Dept. Civil Rights Division is not the Finder of Fact/”Decider” as to whether a shooting was unconstitutional lethal force.

    That is… “just their opinion, man!”

    The relevant DECIDER is a COURT…

    DOJ comes to all sorts of conclusions on other shit that reasonoids routinely disagree with and for good reason

    I know they want to think THEY *know* when a shooting is unconstitutional but their OPINION is no more valid than any # of others that may disagree

    so now Reason magazine defers to the DOJ on matters of interpretation of constitutional law.


    Do you want to get held to that?

    or is it only when you LIKE the narrative?


    If a shooting is allegedly unconstitutional, that becomes a de jure reality when a COURT decides so… not the DOJ


    1. *scratches his balls and wonders if Dumphy has a point*

    2. I know they want to think THEY *know* when a shooting is unconstitutional but their OPINION is no more valid than any # of others that may disagree

      You’re a fucking imbecile. A formal DOJ opinion is immensely more “valid” — influential in the eyes of fact-finders — than that of a douchebag rando cop with delusions of legal acumen.

      1. The standard in Tennessee v. Garner for when it’s constitutional for a police officer to shoot someone in the back isn’t that hard to interpret.

        1. Unless you were that one sad sack on the Slager jury, apparently.

  19. Im so glad i live in boise. It is borong as fuck here. Just the way i like it.

    1. Boring

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  21. Cops cannot be trusted. Cops lie all the time and everywhere. They lie for no reason other than that they virtually always get away with it. They lie, lie, lie, and lie again. They lie on their arrest reports, they lie in court, they lie to get a brother cop out of a jam. They lie with abandon. They lie with aplomb. They lie with sincerity. It’s the first lesson in police academy: “How to lie sincerely.” This is the reason you never, never trust a cop. Every word out of their mouths is a lie. And if they don’t like being called a bunch of scum-bag liars, let’s see them call out their fellows when they know they’re lying.

    That will never happen. Why? Because cops have no honor. zip, zero, nada, zilch. They have no emotions other than unhinged, indiscriminate rage at the tiniest slight to their “authority”. They have no compassion, no sympathy, no tolerance, no conscience, no kindness, no pity. They are not members of the human race. They are subhuman cretinous monsters. They are filth.

    1. I liked your comment, up until you called them filth. I have a cousin who is a cop. His dad was a “reserve” cop or whatever you call the wannabe-s they give a badge at parades. His dad was a drunk (died from cirrhosis), a thief (by his own admission) and a liar (spread awful untruths and gossip about me). If he takes after his dad, he fits right in. But, honestly, he is not filth. Your dissertation seems to pretty well put it that a lot of us believe. They cannot be trusted to be honest. My wife’s ex, a nepotistic-deputy, took $10,000 from a drug bust, that was not checked in to the sheriff’s department properly. He never was caught! The crooks run the jails!

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