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    Mar 2005

    Police Torture in Chicago

    Police Torture in Chicago

    Detective Frank Laverty did the right thing—and paid for it for years.

    By John Conroy
    January 5, 2007

    As I have said previously I do not want to be involved in this affair. That is why I asked for the reassurance that these letters would be kept private. I do not wish to be shunned like Officer Laverty has been. . . . Almost all of the detectives and police officers involved know the Wilson’s did the murders but they do not approve of the beatings and torture. . . . I advise you to immediately interview a Melvin Jones who is in the Cook County Jail on a murder charge. . . . When you speak with him. . . you will see why it is important. —anonymous letter to People’s Law Office attorney Flint Taylor, March 1989

    FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE Frank Laverty, who died of cancer on December 5, will be remembered for turning the Chicago Police Department on its head. Perhaps that’s too mild a statement. In standing up for an African-American teenager the state wanted to put to death, a young man he’d never met, he wasn’t just turning the department on its head but bouncing it a few times for good measure.

    Laverty shook loose a secret of police record keeping. Twenty-five years ago, in violation of the law, detectives maintained “street files”—documents that weren’t turned over to defense lawyers because they contained inconvenient truths that could hamper the prosecution of the men or women the police had decided were perpetrators. Thanks to Laverty, that widely accepted practice came to an end.

    Little in Laverty’s background separates him from colleagues who marched in lockstep in the opposite direction, officers who took part in, or at least kept their mouths shut about, police torture as innocent men were sent to death row. Many are silent even now, as innocent men sit in prison serving long sentences. In interviews with me this fall, as he faced his own death, and in a statement he gave in November as an expert witness in a civil suit, Laverty admitted that he’d looked the other way when fellow officers took money on traffic stops. He said that he’d once hit a man in an interrogation room, that he’d done more than that as a patrolman trying to keep order on the streets, and that he’d used the word nigger. “I’m not taking myself out of it,” he said in the statement, “saying that I was an angel or saint or something like that on the police department. You know, I had a bad attitude about [race] sometimes, too.”

    Laverty paid for speaking up, but he also inspired at least one other person to do the same. The letter quoted above, one of a series mailed to the People’s Law Office in police department envelopes by a still-unidentified person, broke open the Jon Burge scandal. It led Flint Taylor and his colleagues to one victim who led them to others, until finally the highest levels of city and state government admitted that for nearly two decades police had used torture to extract confessions.
    Cont at site………

    Chicago torture probe draws worldwide attention


  2. 01-11-2007, 04:26 AM


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