Clinic Settles Cop Brutality Case
City of Chicago officials are preparing to settle a police brutality case that has generated no stories in the mainstream media -- but which watchers in the blogosphere say threatened to expose widespread patterns of abuse in the Chicago Police Department.
Diane Bond said she was physically accosted and sexually humiliated on many occasions by a special team of officers assigned to her building in the Stateway Gardens housing complex.
The plight of Bond and her son was chronicled by blogger Jamie Kalven. City lawyers had a companion lawsuit going against Kalven to get a judge to force him to turn over all his notes of interviews with everyone in the housing project -- even on issues unrelated to Bond's case.
That potential First Amendment showdown was averted when the city and Bond's lawyers reached a tentative settlement of $150,000 last week. That figure must be approved by the Chicago City Council. The settlement will end the city's action against Kalven.
In the course of the lawsuit, Bond's lawyer, Craig Futterman, a public interest lawyer with the University of Chicago's Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, obtained extensive records of the Police Department's disciplining of officers in response to brutality complaints.
As Kalven reported on his blog, the numbers show that of the 10,150 complaints of excessive force, illegal arrest, illegal searches, racial and sexual abuse filed against Chicago officers between 2002 and 2004, only 18 times were officers suspended for seven days or more.
'50 or more complaints'
That means an officer accused of abuse has a 99.8 percent chance of getting off without any "meaningful discipline," Futterman said. The figure exposes as a lie the department's attempts to portray the abuse under former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge as ancient history and practices as having been reformed, Futterman said.
"They've been engaged in a pattern of abuse against public housing residents on the South Side," Futterman said. "There are officers with 50 or more complaints who were never disciplined."
In Bond's case, in April of 2003, an officer put a gun to her head and demanded to know where she lived, the lawsuit said. He and a team of officers took her keys and forced their way into her home, beat her son, forced her son to beat another person, threatened to plant drugs on her if she did not follow his instructions, and then had her undress for him so he could stare at her private parts, according to the lawsuit.
That was just the first of several incidents by the same group of officers, according to Bond's lawsuit. Bond was never charged with any crime.
City Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle confirmed that attorneys have reached a tentative settlement in the case.
Asked about the 2002-2004 numbers Kalven and Futterman say show insufficient discipline against officers, Chicago Police Dept. spokeswoman Monique Bond said, "One of the things Supt. Cline has put in place since 2003 is a very aggressive intervention program to address misconduct. We're being very proactive."
Copyright 2006 Chicago Sun-Times