FOP Threatens Lawsuit Over Police Beating Claims
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CHICAGO (CBS) - The Fraternal Order of Police is threatening a lawsuit, after seven Chicago Police officers were stripped of their powers on claims that they beat a handcuffed suspect, only for two to be cleared within days.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, two of the seven accused officers were reinstated, after GPS records placed them nowhere near the alleged beating of the unruly handcuffed suspect. Four more officers and a sergeant remain stripped of their powers.
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The GPS records were only examined by the Independent Police Review Authority at the request of the Chicago FOP as two of their members tried to clear their names from brutality charges.
The FOP says the latest development amounts to proof that police Supt. Jody Weis has acted hastily and irresponsibly in the investigation.
“At least two officers, and possibly all seven department members, had careers damaged by the superintendent’s laps of solid judgment,” Chicago FOP President Mark Donahue said.
Sources say the alleged incident took place on Columbus Day at 79th Street and Vincennes Avenue. The event was reportedly caught on videotape and involved officers from the Gresham District.
According to sources, a 19-year-old man had been arrested and was in handcuffs, when he spat at one of the officers. The sergeant retaliated by striking the handcuffed man repeatedly, sources said.
But Weis said on the CBS 2 Morning News Wednesday that he thought action needed to be taken against the officers.
Weis said told CBS 2’s Steve Bartelstein and Susan Carlson that he “thought it was best to get these officers off the street,” in the wake of the allegations. “We just can’t have people engaging in brutality and that’s unacceptable behavior.”
At the time, Weis made no mention that two of the officers stripped of their duties had been cleared and reinstated 12 hours earlier.
That prompted a harsh rebuke from Donahue, who said it was either a “real lapse in leadership” if Weis wasn’t aware the officers had been cleared or a “slap in the face” if he did know and didn’t mention it.
“He didn’t even have the decency or recognize that these officers had been cleared in his latest TV appearance this morning,” Donahue said.
The FOP insisted that GPS records of the officers’ cruiser was examined, placing the pair far away from the site of the alleged beating.
The event was reportedly caught on video tape.
“My standard is always reasonable and from what I saw this wasn’t reasonable,” Weis said.
But FOP leaders say what’s not reasonable is the lack of information about the incident coming from Weis.
“I think it’s a poor, reckless decision the superintendent made,” Donahue said.
The anonymous Chicago Police officer behind the Second City Cop blog was also furious Thursday morning. Second City Cop took particular issue with the fact that Weis did not admit he was wrong.
“Wow! Imagine that! An actual investigation leads to actual evidence that actual people with lives and careers were actually innocent!” Second City Cop wrote. “You would think that maybe a superintendent that was so eager to throw someone (anyone!) under the bus based on an incomplete and open investigation might have had something to say about jumping the gun on this one – you would be wrong of course.”
Regarding the now-cleared officers, late Wednesday afternoon the Police Department issued the following statement:
“The Chicago Police Department was notified by the Independent Police Review Authority that two of the seven officers which IPRA initially recommended be relieved of police powers in the misconduct investigation have been excluded from the investigation.
“Based upon this information, the Department took swift action to restore these officers’ police powers and return them to field assignment.
“It is important to note that relief of powers does not constitute discipline.”
Police sources have said that the handcuffed suspect was overheard in the lockup calling a relative who works for the Independent Police Review Authority, which is investigating the case. The IPRA had no comment.
Weis was unavailable for comment Thursday morning. He is headed to Orlando, Fla., for the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
WATCH: Jody Weis on CBS 2 Morning News
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli and Vince Gerasole contributed to this report.