Cook County Judge Diane Cannon acquitted Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans Monday, a case in which the defendant was charged with two counts of aggravated battery and seven counts of official misconduct.
From the courtroom in Chicago’s Leighton Criminal Court Building and after a three-day bench trial, Evans, one of 22 district commanders, was found not guilty on all seven felony counts.
Charged in August 2014 for a January 2013 incident, Evans was accused of driving his service weapon into the mouth of a suspect, holding a Taser to his groin and threatening to kill him.
Prosecutors allege Evans encountered Ricky Williams on Chicago’s south side and reported he observed a weapon in Williams’ hand. Giving chase, Evans and fellow officers discovered Williams in an abandoned building where Evans was said by Williams to have threatened his life if he did not reveal where he had hidden the weapon.
Williams’ DNA was found on Evans’ pistol.
Dismissing DNA evidence found on Evans’ weapon as presumably the outcome of lawful contact with the suspect, and casting doubt on the veracity of Williams’ statements, Judge Cannon averred in her opinion:
“(Williams was) eager to change his testimony at anyone’s request to accommodate the evidence. (His testimony was) unreasonable, improbable and contrary to human experience.”
Celebrating the acquittal, defense attorney Laura Morask stated:
“This is not a case of alleged police brutality. This is a case of a guy doing his job, and we need commanders like that.”
An attorney representing Williams in his civil suit against Evans lashed out at Cannon’s decision:
“We had wondered why Commander Evans would waive his constitutional right to a jury trial. Now we know Judge Cannon went out of her way to put the victim on trial in this case. This isn’t about who was telling the truth and who was lying. This is about scientific DNA evidence,” said Stephan Blandin, an attorney representing Williams.
For Evans, this is, nonetheless, the first of several obstacles in his ordeal: Removed from his position and on unpaid leave since August 2014, Evans has yet to face potential punishment from the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), and the specter of a federal civil rights lawsuit is imminent.
Evans’ vindication should provide some daylight for Chicago’s beleaguered law enforcement community.
Fearing a tainted jury pool due to public opinion largely shaped by individuals and organizations whose purposes are to emasculate police and create a law-free zone in urban areas, and confronted by a prosecutor’s office which bowed under the crushing weight of heavy political pressure, it is little wonder Mr. Evans opted for a bench trial. The court system, particularly the alternative of bench trials, may be the last refuge for police in both defeating crime and liberating their name.
Equally troubling is the basis for which Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez chose to charge Mr. Evans: The recommendation of the IPRA.
Intended to relocate responsibility of exploring police negligence from an internal police department panel, the IPRA has been badly manipulated and has earned a well-deserved stature as an instrument of retaliation harnessed by the aggrieved who consider policing to be a mere disruption to the conduct of culprits as they pursue their nefarious deeds spreading havoc on the streets of Chicago.
The existence of the IPRA serves only to buoy the volume of utterly unreliable complaints leveled against scrupulous police officers and renders useless the few legitimate protestations which are lost amid the wrangling.
Although portrayed as a cog vital for monitoring police, this board has been misused and tends to afford special access to the unhinged to cast scorn on police. Extending the life of this ineffective review board only allows the further entrenchment of the roused known to be imbued with anti-police views and does nothing to contribute to improved relations between the citizens or law enforcement.
By sparing no word of condemnation of the police, the inflammatory language leads to the gradual elimination of police to effectively perform their duties; it encourages lawlessness; and it both inspires vendettas against policemen and reduces hard policing to mere community service or traffic control.
[Chicago Tribune] [IPRAChicago.org] [Photo courtesy HuffingtonPost.com]