Ill. governor wants torture panel chief to resign

AP News
Posted: Sep 12, 2013 8:49 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is calling for the resignation of the head of a commission investigating allegations of police torture in Chicago, saying the panel failed to tell victims' relatives that it was looking at their cases.

Quinn sent a letter to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who has complained about the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission. The commission was set up four years ago after allegations that former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge and several subordinates tortured suspects, nearly all of them black.

The commission is tasked with vetting cases of dozens of prisoners to determine if it's possible their convictions stemmed from confessions under torture. If so, they may be entitled to have their cases reopened.

Quinn wrote in his letter that it is "critical to hear from the families of murdered victims." He cited Thomas for "serious failure to undertake adequate due diligence." Commission Chairman Cheryl Starks also asked Thomas to step down.

WLS-TV first reported the letter.

Quinn does not appoint the commission's chief, but he said director David Thomas needs to step down. If not, he said the commission should fire him. Quinn said he's prepared to recommend candidates to replace Thomas.

Thomas did not immediately respond to a call to his office Thursday.

Quinn's office received complaints from a family of a couple killed in their Chicago home in 1983. The family said it learned through the media that the commission was investigating whether police tortured the man convicted for the crime.

That case is one of three that the commission referred to the Cook County Circuit Court that the panel has since asked be temporarily removed from the court's consideration to allow further investigation on whether victims' families were fairly treated.