Chicago police: A guide to other alleged abuse cases

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Posted: Dec 08, 2015 7:04 PM
Chicago police: A guide to other alleged abuse cases

CHICAGO (AP) — The fallout from last month's release of a video showing a white Chicago police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times has brought extra scrutiny to several other cases of alleged abuse, including one involving one of the department's most high-profile commanders.

Here's a rundown of the most recent developments with the Chicago Police Department, which will undergo a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice:

THE GLENN EVANS TRIAL

Cmdr. Glenn Evans, an African-American officer who's been with the Chicago police 29 years, went on trial Tuesday over accusations he shoved a gun down a suspect's throat and pressed a stun gun to his groin.

In court Tuesday, Rickey Williams testified that Evans shoved a gun so far down his throat in January 2013 that he was gagging and later spat blood. Williams, who is black and was 22 at the time, said he ran from a bus stop after an officer rolled up in an unmarked car and unnerved him with a stare.

He ran into a dark, abandoned building and hid in a pantry; several officers followed. In the glare of another officer's flashlight, Williams said that Evans threw him to the ground and put a knee in his side, a pistol in his mouth and a stun gun to his groin while demanding, "Tell me where the gun's at!" Police never found a gun. Williams said he was holding a cellphone.

Evans is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and official misconduct.

His attorney, Laura Morask, questioned the credibility of Williams, who corrected himself several times on details during testimony. Morask also said there's no evidence Evans had a stun gun or ever carried one while on duty, questioned the reliability of evidence showing Williams' DNA on Evans' gun and wondered why Williams never sought medical attention.

Several community members in court said they came to support Evans because he "cleaned up" the neighborhood, which some have described as having once been a shooting gallery for gangs.

Morask referenced the current atmosphere and scrutiny of policing around the country, saying prosecutors "fell prey to the context of the times." The trial will resume Wednesday.

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THE PHILIP COLEMAN VIDEO

The city released a 2012 video on Monday night of officers using a stun gun and dragging Philip Coleman, a 38-year-old who had been taken into custody after allegedly attacking his mother.

The video shows six officers — several of whom appear to be black — entering Coleman's cell. One uses a stun gun, and an officer then drags Coleman, who was black, out by his handcuffed wrists.

Officials have said Coleman died later at a hospital after a reaction to an anti-psychotic drug. But the family says it was obvious from the start that he was mentally ill and he'd still be alive if he'd been taken to a hospital instead of jail.

A police review board previously found the officers' actions justified. But interim police superintendent John Escalante said Monday the matter is under investigation and that the department would be "doing our own review of our policies and practices surrounding the response to mental health crises."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he didn't see how the treatment "could possibly be acceptable."

The family held a news conference Tuesday, saying they were incensed that no one from the city or the police warned them of the video's release, which was in response to a media outlet's Freedom of Information Act request.

Coleman's father, Percy Coleman, himself a former suburban Chicago police chief, said his son was studying to get a second degree, dealing with a divorce and was not a gang member or drug dealer.

On the night captured in the video, he had a mental breakdown and hit his parents. The elder Coleman said he stood in front of his son so the responding officers wouldn't shoot him.

When he was finally taken to a hospital, Philip Coleman got agitated, and family attorney Ed Fox said police used a stun gun "up to 13 more times." Hospital staff also gave him some kind of shot to calm him down, and he died hours later, Fox said.

"This was not an accidental death," Fox said, noting that coroner's report lists three pages of external and internal injuries. "They set up the perfect storm to cause his death."

A lawsuit in the case is set to go to trial March 21, Fox said.

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UP NEXT

Emanuel has called a special City Council meeting Wednesday morning to deliver a message on the police department. He has welcomed the federal civil rights investigation but also stressed the city's own measures to improve police accountability.

There are also two protests planned Wednesday at City Hall and in downtown.

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Associated Press writer Sara Burnett contributed to this report.