CHICAGO (CBS) — After wrapping up a more than three-year investigation of Chicago police officers who served under corrupt former Sgt. Ronald Watts, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability on Monday delivered its findings to Police Supt David Brown.
Dozens of men and women have said Watts and his team terrorized them in or near the former Ida B. Wells housing project in Bronzeville between 2003 and 2008. Watts and his officers have been accused of planting drugs on suspects and falsifying police reports.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Illinois: 298 New Cases, Including 11 Deaths; 52% Of Adults Fully Vaccinated
Judges have thrown out well over 100 convictions tied to Watts and his tactical team. In some cases, Watts’ victims refused to pay him money or did something that angered him; in others, there appears to be no reason for why he targeted them.
Watts resigned from the force before pleading guilty in 2012 to stealing $5,000 from a federal informant in an undercover sting. Watts was sentenced to 22 months in prison. Fifteen other officers associated with Watts and his unit remain on desk duty pending the results of the COPA investigation.
In 2017, the city’s Office of Inspector General began investigating complaints of misconduct against officers under Watts’ command. The OIG later handed off the investigation to the Independent Police Review Authority. COPA took over that probe when it replaced IPRA in September 2017.READ MORE: Archdiocese Of Chicago Relaxes COVID-19 Protocols, Lifts Capacity Limits
Since then, COPA has interviewed dozens of witnesses; including current and former officers, former residents of the Wells Homes, and former Cook County prosecutors. Investigators also combed through thousands of pages of documents, including police reports and court records.
“The alleged misconduct in this matter began more than 15 years ago. Organizing, conducting, and carrying out the investigative activities in this case required the commitment of significant resources and bringing this investigation to conclusion was no small feat,” COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts said in a statement. “No matter how long ago an allegation of misconduct occurred, it is incumbent upon us to seek accountability. Our community deserves nothing less.”
COPA has delivered the findings and recommendations of its investigation to Brown, who now has 60 days to review the report and determine if any disciplinary action should be taken against the officers.
Once Brown responds to the report and informs any possible disciplinary charges are served to any officers, COPA will make its findings public.MORE NEWS: Man Shot While Standing Outside In Old Norwood Park
Meantime, COPA said it is continuing other misconduct investigations of individual officers who served under Watts, and expects to issue reports in the coming months.