Accused of physically abusing and threatening to kill a suspect, the case against a Chicago Police Commander went to trial on Tuesday as the Justice Department launched a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Although no video cameras recorded the incident, the suspect’s DNA was found on the cop’s gun barrel after the Commander allegedly shoved his service weapon down the suspect’s throat.
In January 2013, Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans was on patrol when he noticed Rickey Williams, then 22, standing near a bus stop. According to Commander Evans, Williams was holding a blue steel handgun and fled on foot. But Williams asserted that he did not have a gun and only took off running after Evans pulled up in his patrol car while staring at him for several minutes.
As Williams fled into an abandoned building, Evans chased him inside and tackled Williams. While holding a Taser against Williams’ groin, Evans allegedly shoved the barrel of his gun down Williams’ throat and threatened to kill him. Although at least 10 officers arrived to search the house and the surrounding area, no handgun or any other weapons were found.
Charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct, Williams filed a complaint against Evans on the following day. The charge against Williams was eventually dropped when none of the officers decided to appear in court.
While investigating Williams’ accusations, prosecutors tested Evans’ service weapon and discovered Williams’ DNA on the barrel of the Commander’s .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun. Although the defense contends that the DNA could have come from Williams touching the gun, Williams was never charged with attempting to grab an officer’s weapon and his fingerprints were not found on the gun.
Between 1998 and 2008, Evans had at least 45 excessive force complaints filed against him with only two resulting in disciplinary action. Between 1999 and 2013, Evans was named as a defendant in five federal lawsuits. The city settled those cases for a total of $196,000.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the CPD concerning allegations of misconduct and civil rights violations. That same day, the CPD released a surveillance video of six officers entering the jail cell of Philip Coleman, 38, and repeatedly shooting him with a Taser before dragging him down the hall by his wrists. Following the incident, Coleman reportedly died from a severe reaction to the antipsychotic drug, haloperidol, but the medical examiner also found Coleman’s body covered in bruises and abrasions, as well as a fractured rib.
The Justice Department investigation was initiated after a recently released police dashcam video revealed that Laquan McDonald, 17, did not lunge at anyone when Officer Jason Van Dyke shot him to death. After suppressing the video for 13 months, the city received a court order to release the footage and eventually charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder. On Monday, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez decided not to file charges against Officer George Hernandez after dashcam footage recorded him shooting Ronald Johnson III, in the back.
Marred with a history of brutality and corruption, the CPD has been accused of operating a CIA-style black site for years in Homan Square. Between 1972 and 1991, Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men tortured hundreds of people to extract forced confessions from them. Suspended from the department in 1991, Burge was fired two years later after the Police Department Review Board ruled that he had used torture.