Tag Archives: Illinois

False Imprisonment: Its Increasing Frequency and the Huge Cost It Imposes on Society

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously by a reader, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Police Abuses on the Rise

It’s no secret that police brutality and misconduct has been on the rise recently with cases in the news like Eric Garner who was suffocated in a choke hold by police and killed for illegally selling cigarettes. Similarly, a 12-year-old boy Tamir Rice was shot and killed after playing with a toy gun in the park. The level of uneasiness between police officers and citizens has hit an all-time high and we see this unrest play out in society. Police brutality is not the only form of police misconduct- false arrest of citizens can be an excruciating experience that sends innocent people to prison for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For example, Chicago’s taxpayers have had to pay over $120 million for the racial torture committed by one police commander, Jon Burge. Part of the disconnect between officers and citizens is the unfairness in power and how that power is used. To add on to this, police are offered different treatment when it comes to false arrests or misconduct. Although Burge oversaw the torture of over 118 black men – which would typically lead to decades in prison – he was released in three-and-a-half years and sent to a halfway house. All the men he tortured remain behind bars.

Police officers were granted a Qualified Immunity Doctrine by the Supreme Court which essentially states that police officers are innocent of harm towards their suspects in most cases due to their risky and honorable line of work. The best intentions are seen to be associated with most police officers, but has that been the case recently?

Typically, false arrest from police officers falls into the police misconduct category, which can also encompass police brutality and wrongful death. According to the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations report, 75% of homicide exonerations involved police misconduct. One widely publicized example of a wrongful arrest was James Bain, who was convicted of kidnapping and rape at the age of 18. He served 35 years for a vicious crime he did not commit. Although DNA evidence was tested and presented prior, he was refused further DNA testing from the courts until his fifth try in 2006. Although misidentification from eyewitnesses account for 75% of all convictions that are overturned by DNA evidence, Bain was wrongfully arrested and incarcerated by police.

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How Does False Imprisonment Affect the Public?

Some people may think that the police arrest people who they think are guilty of a crime, and if they are wrongfully arrested, they are quickly released and go about their happy lives. That is far from the truth in most cases where the arrest was outright wrong and unlawful. Many people who are falsely arrested fight back and sue the police officer who wronged them and because of this, the public is responsible for paying that fee.

Amount of Money City Taxpayers Have Paid for Police Misconduct:

  • Chicago: $521 million from 2004-2014
  • Cleveland: $8.2 million between 2004-2014
  • Denver: $12 million since 2011
  • Dallas: $6.6 million between 2011-2014
  • Los Angeles: $101 million between 2002-2011

For example, Robert Graham was arrested for disorderly conduct by a police officer who was stuck in traffic behind him. Due to the gridlock traffic in New York City, Graham was also stuck in traffic and unable to move. The police officers wrongfully arrested Graham due to the circumstances of the situation. Graham’s wrongfully arrested cases was one of the ones that contributed to New York taxpayers paying $18 million to pay back people who were wrongfully arrested by officers.

According to Jon Norinsberg, a false imprisonment attorney, New York city police may only legally arrest citizens if:

  1. The police have an arrest warrant.
  2. The police have probable cause that you committed a crime.
  3. You are interfering with a police investigation or arrest.
  4. The police believe you are a criminal attempting to flee a crime scene.

Why are Police Officers Getting Away with False Imprisonment?

The number of innocent people behind bars is the highest number it has ever been historically, so it is only natural to question the source – the police. Why has it become okay to so quickly convict people and rarely face punishment as a police officer for wrongfully arresting someone? The issue gets stickier when videos of police officers using excessive force and even killing citizens when they appeared to pose no threat. Are there consequences for that? Rarely.

Unfortunately, false arrests happen and can be scary to argue your case in front of a judge – especially because police are most often shielded by the Qualified Immunity Doctrine exercised by the Supreme Court. This is a protective order that is designed to protect police officers from facing punishments from their mistakes or unlawful actions. In theory, this Qualified Immunity Doctrine was originally designed to shield officers who are properly bringing justice to criminals and who handle situations appropriately – if someone is upset for getting arrested if they deserve it, well this doctrine will protect the police from this potential complaint or lawsuit. Since videos have been released of police officers using unnecessary excessive force on unarmed people, citizens are growing scared that officers are abusing this immunity from the Supreme Court to get away with their unjust behavior. This is where a disconnect lies between police officers and citizens.

Where is the Accountability From the Police?

Why is it that as a society we only started paying attention to police misconduct and false arrests when Netflix featured programs like Making a Murderer?

Police officers are designed to keep our communities safe. While most cops are heroes and upstanding citizens who work hard to protect our safety, those who entered the police force to unlawfully assert power over others and take advantage of their badge are getting more press in recent news. Although it’s an unfortunate circumstance, it is important to stay educated on what is happening in society to better educate yourself and to hopefully make a positive change.

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Chicago Cop (Only) Fired for Shooting Sixteen Times at the Victims of a Drive By Then Lying About It

Last week, the Chicago Independent Police Review Authority, one of those civilian oversight boards that are designed to make it appear police aren’t investigating themselves, voted to fire Officer Francisco “Frank” Perez over a shooting that took place in 2011. Amazingly, considering the level of corruption and violence that is routinely carried out by members of the Chicago Police Department, this was actually the first time the board had ever voted to fire a cop for a shooting in its ten years of existence. (If you know anything about the reality of police oversight boards, that actually won’t be that surprising.)

The shooting for which Perez was eventually fired involved a drive by shooting at a restaurant where he was working during his off-time as a security guard. Three people were shot, including one fatally, by a car that pulled up next to another car parked in front of the restaurant. Officer Perez responded to the shooting and began firing his gun. However, instead of shooting at the car that had committed the drive by, he began shooting into the parked car.

Before all was said and done, Perez had fired 16 shots into that car hitting one of the occupants. Later, when he was being questioned about the shooting by internal affairs, he lied about which car he was actually shooting at, apparently maintaining that he was just a really bad shot. Even after being shown the video, he continued insisting that he was firing at the other car, which had driven away before he began firing.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

According to authorities, the shooting occurred shortly before 4 a.m. Nov. 5, 2011, outside the La Pasadita restaurant in the 1100 block of North Ashland Avenue. Perez was off-duty and working security for the restaurant when an occupant of a red Mitsubishi Galant opened fire after pulling up beside a blue Chrysler 300M that was double-parked in front of the restaurant.

The evidence against Perez hinged largely on video obtained from a surveillance camera outside the restaurant. After the Mitsubishi had sped from the scene, the footage showed Perez moving toward the Chrysler and firing his weapon at the rear of the vehicle, according to IPRA. Perez continued to fire as the Chrysler took off, IPRA said.

Yet even after viewing the video in 2015, Perez continued to maintain that he had fired at the red car.

In testifying before a Police Board hearing officer last year, Perez did not dispute that he mistakenly shot an occupant in the Chrysler but said he was aiming at the red car seconds after the drive-by shooting.

Three people standing outside the restaurant were shot, one fatally.

A lawyer representing the Police Department contended that Perez should be fired for lying and shooting an “innocent bystander.”

But Perez’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, described his client as a hero and dismissed the allegations against him as preposterous.

John Farrell, who testified as an expert on use of force on behalf of Perez, defended the off-duty officer’s decision to open fire because the gunman in the red car had just committed a forcible felony and was attempting to escape.

Farrell also criticized the quality of the video as not “top notch.” He said the video did not depict what Perez saw that night because the camera captured the scene from a different angle than what the off-duty officer viewed. It also gave a limited view of what took place that night, he said.

In addition, Farrell testified that outside factors, including tunnel vision and an inability in the poor lighting to distinguish the colors of the two cars, could have played a role in the incident.

But the Police Department lawyer, Special Assistant Corporation Counsel James Fieweger, told the hearing officer that he was skeptical that Perez intended to fire at the Mitsubishi because the car was a full block and a half away when he opened fire. The odds that Perez would be successful in hitting the moving vehicle in the dark at that distance were minuscule, he said.

“I think Officer Perez was trying to do the right thing, but he was ill-informed and made a horrible mistake,” Fieweger said. “He’s been offered multiple opportunities to correct his story. If an officer’s gonna lie to cover that up, what else is he gonna lie about?”

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IL Police Assault Innocent, Cooperative Man After Racist Woman Reports He Stole His Own Car

Dash camera video released by police in a suburb of Chicago shows a man being assaulted even though he’s completely innocent and not resisting in any way. Evanston, Il. police had stopped Lawrence Crosby, a black man, because a racist woman that saw him working on his car assumed that he must be stealing it. She called to police to report it and then began following him as he drove to the Northwestern University campus, where he is attending as a graduate student.

Soon after, Crosby was pulled over by a group of unnamed Evanston police officers, after having initially (correctly) thought that someone suspicious was following him. He can then be seen on the video stepping out of the vehicle, raising his arms when told to, and attempting to get down on the ground as he had also been instructed to.

However, before he can finish doing so, at least five cops rush forward and beginning assaulting him. As they throw him to the ground he is kneed at least once by one of the officers. Then after he is already on the ground being held down, several of the officers can be seen punching him as they yell, “stop resisting!” repeatedly.

Crosby can be heard on the audio from an officer’s microphone telling them that he is not resisting. He also informs them that they are being recorded in an effort to stop them from beating him any further. Although it hasn’t yet been released publicly, Crosby also had a dash cam of his own within the car, with which he recorded the entire incident.

Via Fox32Chicago.com:

On October 10, 2015, Lawrence Crosby was working on his car around 7:00 PM when a woman passing by saw what she thought was an African American man breaking into a vehicle and stealing it. She called 9-1-1 and then followed the vehicle, relaying information to the dispatcher about the location.

“Hi somebody’s trying to break into, somebody’s trying to break into a car,” the woman told the dispatcher. ”I Think the person just got into the car.”

Crosby, an engineering doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, was driving from his apartment to campus when he was stopped. He had his own dashcam video recording in his car, and before the stop, he can be heard talking to someone saying he thought he was being followed. He was reportedly headed to the police station because of those suspicions, when police pulled him over in a church parking lot.

The dashcam video shows him get out with his hands up with a cellphone in his hand and he then gets taken down by officers who thought they were dealing with someone who stole a car.

“On the ground… on the ground… down on the ground… down on the ground…turn around,” the officers can be heard yelling as they knee Crosby to bring him to the ground and then punch him.

“I’m cooperating…sir, you’re on video… that’s an FYI,” Crosby can be heard telling the officers. He had moved to the front of his car to put himself within view of his own camera.

So…about that whole just don’t break the law and follow the orders Police Heroes give you and everything will be just fine theory…

Police Dash Camera Footage

Local News Coverage

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Update: Chicago Cop Who Admitted Firing Gun While Driving Drunk Acquitted by Judge

In spite of maintaining that he was “acutely aware” of the fact people are really tired of cops getting off without any sort of repercussions for their (often violent) actions, Cook County Judge James Linn chose to drop charges against an off-duty Chicago police officer who admitted to firing his gun five times during a confrontation with a firefighter and an off-duty cop from another jurisdiction while driving drunk.

As I previously posted here on the CopBlock Network, Chicago firefighter Charles Ostrowski, along with his passenger, off-duty Merrionette Park Police Officer Dominic Dimaggio, began following Officer John Gorman after witnessing him driving erratically. When they eventually caught up to him, Gorman fired five shots toward them, one of which hit the bumper of Ostrowski’s truck. During the trial, Gorman claimed that he fired the gun into the air as “warning shots.”

Via Chicago.CBS.Local.com:

John Gorman had been drinking before he got behind the wheel on Nov. 23, 2014, but off-duty Merrionette Park police officer Dominic Dimaggio and his friend Charles Ostrowski were behaving aggressively and in an “threatening manner,” Judge James Linn said.

Gorman wasn’t sure who these men in a large “military-type truck” were and what they were up to, Linn said in dismissing aggravated discharge of a firearm and aggravated battery charges.

“This was not a situation [Gorman] started. This was a situation he was confronted with,” Linn said.

Dimaggio and Ostrowski, then an off-duty suburban firefighter, said Gorman almost hit a flower vendor at 111th and Pulaski.

Moments later, Dimaggio got out of Ostrowski’s Ford F-250 and knocked on Gorman’s tan Buick while he was stopped in traffic to ask if he was okay.

Dimaggio said he had been holding his badge the whole time. Gorman said he never saw a badge.

As Dimaggio screamed “why are you driving like an “—hole?” while pounding on his window, Gorman and his partner were rightfully scared not knowing who Dimaggio was, Linn said.

Gorman drove off and Dimaggio called 911. But instead of taking the dispatcher’s advice to let authorities handle the situation, Dimaggio and Ostrowski tailed Gorman as he drove toward the 22nd District, Linn said.

It was at Prospect and Pryor that Gorman said he got out of his car and shot five warning shots in the air as Ostrowski’s truck came “barreling” toward him. Ostrowski said he only hit the gas pedal and went around Gorman because he saw a gun in Gorman’s hand. Ostrowski and Dimaggio said they ducked beneath the dashboard and only heard the gun go off as they passed Gorman.

“I had no idea who he was or why he was pursuing us,” Gorman said of the men.

“I didn’t know if he was someone I had previously arrested or he was trying to carjack us.”

No bullets holes were found on Ostrowski ‘s truck that day.

However, three weeks later, Ostrowski found a hole–possibly caused by a bullet–on his back bumper.

Linn admitted a “disconnect” between the stories and said neither party was looking for trouble that day.

When clearing Gorman of the felony charges, Linn said he was “acutely aware” of the societal feelings of police officers’ conduct. He said while police officers shouldn’t be treated better, they shouldn’t be treated “worse” either.

Obviously, convicting a cop who pulled out a gun while driving drunk and fired off five rounds (even if you buy the story that he shot into the air) while involved in a confrontation with other drivers would certainly be “worse” than the treatment any average citizen would receive under similar circumstances.

It was also announced after the trial to reporters by Gorman’s lawyer, Michael Clancy, that the DUI charge Gorman had been facing had been dropped prior to the judge’s ruling. That decision was made even though Gorman, who wasn’t tested until over five hours after he was arrested, had registered a .07 blood alcohol level, just below the .08 that is considered legally intoxicated.

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Arrested in South Elgin, Illinois for Knowing the Law

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Richard S. Blum, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In the post, Richard describes being unlawfully arrested by an Illinois police officer and how even after the bogus charge was thrown out it ended up costing him.

Date of Incident: Fall of 2015
Officer Involved: Officer Nelson
Department Involved: South Elgin (IL) Police Department

A friend and I went to the Winner’s Circle bar in S. Elgin, IL. We were sitting at the bar when Officer Nelson came in and asked the bar back if he could go into the back office to look for the owner, Tammy. As it was her first day on the job, she was confused about what was happening.

She looked at me, so I told her that without a warrant he could not go into the back. That’s when officer Nelson told me to mind my own business and if I have no interest in the bar to keep my mouth shut. He then asked her for permission to go into back office. She looked at me again and I told her that if he has no warrant he cannot go back there. That’s when all attention was directed towards me.

First, he pointed his finger in my face, telling me to show ID; the whole time with his finger one inch from my nose. As I was getting my wallet out, I pointed my index finger at him, saying he should know the law better than me. That’s when he told me that I was under arrest for battery to a police officer. At that point, I was handcuffed, put into his police car, and brought to jail, laughing that I was being jailed for knowing the law.

A month later at the court date, I showed up with my lawyer Gary Topel. The best part was when the judge asked Officer Nelson what happened that day. He said almost the same as I had about the events of the day, but said that he was around ten feet from me, not one inch from me. Also, he a said he was in fear for his life from my index finger even from ten feet away. I could not help but laugh, after which my lawyer said to refrain from that. I didn’t even have a chance to tell my side of the story before the judge threw the charge out.

Months later, while I was looking for a new job, they did a criminal background check on me. To my surprise, there was a battery charge on my record. I thought since it was thrown out of court it would not be on my record. I called Gary Topel and asked him what was going on. He told me to have it taken off my record would cost me $650.00.

I think Officer Nelson is using his badge to do whatever he likes. It’s sad that it cost me a job because he didn’t know the law he was hired to uphold. I’m just amazed that doing nothing more than pointing my finger and knowing the law could cost me so much.

– Richard S. Blum

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