Timeline of Chicago police force's reputation for brutality

AP News
Posted: Jan 13, 2017 12:47 PM
Timeline of Chicago police force's reputation for brutality

CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department on Friday released the findings of its yearlong investigation of the Chicago Police Department. The probe, which was launched after the release of video showing a white officer shoot a black teenager 16 times, found that the department has violated the constitutional rights of residents for years, permitting racial bias against blacks, using excessive force and killing people who didn't pose a threat.

Here are key moments in the police department's history that contributed to its reputation for brutality toward minorities:


Dec. 4: Police officers open fire during a dawn raid on a West Side apartment, killing two members of the Illinois Black Panthers who were sleeping there, including the group's chairman, Fred Hampton. Dozens of shots were fired in what police said was a shootout, but a federal grand jury later concluded that all but one of the bullets were fired by police.


Jan. 10: Gov. George Ryan pardons four death row inmates, all of them black men who he concluded were tortured by Chicago police into confessing to murders they did not commit. The men said they were tortured by detectives under then-Commander Jon Burge. The next day, Ryan clears death row, commuting 167 condemned inmates' sentences.


July 19: After a four-year investigation, prosecutors appointed by a judge conclude that detectives under Burge shocked, kicked, or otherwise tortured scores of mostly black suspects from the 1970s into the 1990s. But they conclude that the cases are too old or too weak to prosecute.


Oct. 21: Burge is arrested and charged in federal court with lying under oath when he denied while testifying in a civil trial that he participated in the torture of black suspects. Burge is later convicted and sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison.


Oct. 20: Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shoots 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times after responding to a call about a teenager breaking into cars. Other officers back Van Dyke's claim that McDonald, who had a small knife with its blade folded, posed a threat to the officer's life, though he was veering away at the time. The shooting is captured on dashcam video, which appears to contradict the accounts of Van Dyke and the other officers on the scene.


April 15: The city council votes to approve a $5 million settlement with McDonald's family.

May 6: The city council agrees to pay a total of $5.5 million in "reparations" to victims of torture by Burge and his detectives, a step typically reserved for nations making amends for slavery or genocide. The settlement adds to a total, at the time, of more than $100 million the city paid in losing or settling Burge-related lawsuits.

Aug. 7: Police reach an agreement with the ACLU to avoid a threatened lawsuit over a "stop-and-frisk" policy the ACLU contends was disproportionately targeting blacks and other minorities. The agreement allows for independent evaluation of procedures and increased public disclosure.

Nov. 24: More than a year after the McDonald shooting, the city responds to a judge's order and release the video, sparking days of protests. Hours earlier, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez announced she was charging Van Dyke with first-degree murder.

Dec. 7: The Justice Department announces that its civil rights division will investigate the police force, looking for patterns of racial disparity in its use of force.


Jan. 4: A federal judge accuses a City Hall lawyer of hiding evidence in the fatal police shooting of a black man during a 2011 traffic stop and tosses out a jury's ruling in a wrongful death lawsuit that the shooting was justified. The city subsequently settles a lawsuit filed by the family of Darius Pinex for about $2 million.

April 13: A task force established by Mayor Rahm Emanuel concludes that Chicago police have "no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color" and have alienated blacks and Hispanics for decades by using excessive force and honoring a code of silence.


Jan. 13: The Justice Department announces the findings of its civil rights investigation. It found that the police department has violated the constitutional rights of residents for years, permitting racial bias against blacks, using excessive force and killing people who didn't pose a threat. It concluded that the pattern was attributable to "systemic deficiencies" within the department and the city, including insufficient training and a failure to hold bad officers accountable for misconduct.