Futterman: Without Police Oversight "We'll Be Having the Same Conversation After the Next Scandal"

Federal lawsuit seeks to force court oversight of Chicago police reform

The roughly 130-page lawsuit — which seeks class-action status — invokes police uses of force dating to the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the killing of Black Panther Fred Hampton in arguing that violence and racial discrimination remain structural features of the department to this day. The suit contends that police routinely beat, deploy Tasers on and shoot African-Americans and Latinos with the protection of a "code of silence" and little risk of discipline.

Though the suit seeks money for the individual plaintiffs, it is distinct from most litigation filed against police because it also seeks an injunction to force the department to adopt reforms. Those reforms are not fully specified in the lawsuit but would be hammered out if the litigation succeeds.

Indeed, the lawsuit's chief goal is an order empowering a judge to enforce reforms that could include those endorsed by the Obama administration's U.S. Department of Justice in its report from January criticizing Chicago police as badly trained, poorly supervised and prone to using excessive force, said Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor and a member of the plaintiffs' legal team.

Without court oversight, Futterman said, "We'll be having the same conversation after the next scandal."

Read more at The Chicago Tribune