CHICAGO (CBS) — Three teenagers buying potato chips were wrongly accused of armed robbery by an off-duty Chicago police officer with past complaints against her.
Officer Michelle Morsi-Murphy has had 19 complaints in 10 years on the force and is currently under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority.
“I was terrified, guns being pointed at my face,” said Christopher, one of the wrongly accused young men.
He, along with two other men who were also accused of a crime they didn’t commit, only wanted to use their last names for this story.
They were all 16 years old at the time of the incident when police guns were pointed at them. They were suspected of armed robbery at the 7-11 store located at 111th and Kedzie in Chicago.
“They put a gun right here and gun to the left,” said Austin, who was one of the other teens who ended up cuffed face down in the street after Morsi-Murphy reported to 911 that she saw them robbing the store and claimed one of them had a knife.
CBS 2 obtained the 7-11 store security video from IPRA, which clearly shows there was no robbery. Responding officers who visited the store also confirmed there was no robbery.
Murphy was off duty when she called 911, claiming the teens were armed and fleeing.
“I see a knife,” reported Morsi-Murphy to the 911 operator.
She initially told the operator the robber was Caucasian “in a gray hoodie.” Then moments later, she identified the three African American teens. “There’s three male blacks in the car,” she reported.
Morsi-Murphy then told the 911 operator there was another crime as she followed them past a gas station at 111th and Talman.
“I guarantee you they robbed this gas station,” said Morsi-Murphy.
Responding officers stopped the teens’ car a few block away in Chicago’s Mt. Greenwood neighborhood and that is when the innocent teens said guns were drawn on them.
“I had my hands in the air, gun to the back of my head, my head slammed on the ground … and somebody put their knee on the back of my head and I was cuffed from that point forward,” said Austin.
CBS 2 tracked down Morsi-Murphy working in the 3rd District.
When the CBS 2 Investigators found her, she was picking up food at a restaurant, and her personal vehicle was parked in a spot designated for drivers with disabilities.
Morsi-Murphy refused to comment on the 911 call she made.
The teens were eventually let go and cleared by other officers, but no one ever told them that the person who tried to pin a robbery on them was an off duty cop.
Rev. Catherine Brown had her own run-in with the same officer in 2013.
Brown was in her car trying to enter her driveway through her alley when she says Morsi-Murphy and another officer pulled up and got in her way.
Brown said it was a case of road rage that led to Morsi-Murphy ramming her squad into Brown’s car with Brown’s two small children inside.
Police dashboard camera video shows Morsi-Murphy used pepper spray and pointed her gun at Brown.
Other officers dragged her to the ground.
“(They) beat me down to my underwear,” says Brown.
IPRA is now investigating Morsi-Murphy for the Brown case.
In the teens’ case, Morsi-Murphy received a 30-day suspension according to IPRA records.
“She put us in a ton of danger because all of the officers had their guns out. They were ready to shoot,” says Christopher who was an honor roll student at Mount Carmel High School when the incident occurred.
Another complaint against Morsi-Murphy centers on her arrest of a woman for felony drug possession.
The drugs were actually prescription medication for the woman’s elderly mother. A federal lawsuit was settled in that case.
Brown’s has her own ongoing case and the teens are considering legal action.