Illinois sues to prevent pension for cop tied to torture

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CHICAGO - Activists against police torture here welcome Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan's lawsuit to stop Jon Burge, the former police commander convicted for lying about the torture of suspects, from receiving his pension.

Madigan filed a lawsuit Monday accusing the city police pension board of illegally letting Burge continue to collect $3,039 a month in spite of his criminal conviction.

Burge, 63, was convicted last summer of three counts of obstruction of justice and perjury. He received a four and a half-year sentence last month.

Soon after, a split vote by the police pension board allowed Burge to keep his pension.

However Madigan is invoking the Illinois Pension Code, which prohibits benefits from being paid to any police officer convicted of a felony. She's also asking the court to order Burge pay back the pension benefits he has received since his sentencing.

"Jon Burge forfeited his right to a public pension when he lied about his knowledge of and participation in the torture and physical abuse of suspects," Madigan said in a statement. "It's this type of criminal conduct by a public servant that our pension forfeiture laws were designed to discourage. The public should never have to pay for the retirement of a corrupt public official."

Burge and detectives under his command are believed to be responsible for the torture of dozens if not hundreds of African American male suspects during the 1970s and 80s. Several victims have testified against Burge that he and his men forced confessions from them using electric homemade devices, suffocation with plastic typewriter covers, beatings and mock executions.

Burge was fired from the police department in 1993 but was never convicted of torturing suspects before the statue of limitations expired.

"It's an outrage that Burge only got four and a half years considering 23 men remain in prison due to police torture on his watch," said activist Mark Clements with the Jail Jon Burge Coalition.

Clements was jailed for 28 years after a crime he says he was tortured into confessing as a youth by Chicago detectives. He was freed in 2009 after making a plea deal, which his attorney's are still fighting.

No relief has been granted to scores of Black men behind bars despite the fact that Burge has been found guilty, said Clements. What is needed is an independent community based agency to investigate these cases. "And we need new hearings for all of them." Clements says he's committed to helping the men get out of jail.

After serving so many years behind bars Clements says he understands the pain of the victims and their families especially when evidence continues to prove their innocence. "It's all a very emotional struggle and fighting for justice is not easy," he said. "But we got to hold on in order to reach the most positive solution and bring these men home."

Ted Pearson with the Chicago chapter of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said Madigan's recent efforts against Burge are laudatory.

"But it would be more meaningful if she used her authority to ensure the victims of police torture get new hearings," he said. Penalizing Burge sends a strong message to the whole police department but what's more important is getting justice for all torture victims, said Pearson.

For example Pearson notes in Dallas County, Texas, District Attorney Craig Watkins  initiated a special unit on wrongful conviction cases after recognizing so many flaws in the system. Using DNA testing 25 men have been exonerated in Dallas County over four years, said Pearson. "We need a special unit like that in Cook County to reopen every case where someone has been tortured into confessing a crime they didn't commit."

Torture cases existed long after Burge was fired and in fact there's evidence they still continue, says Pearson. "Anyone who has made an initial claim of police torture during their trials where a confession was used against them should have their cases reopened because now we know it probably happened."

Meanwhile Flint Taylor with the People's Law Office says he's very pleased that Madigan is courageously addressing Burge.

"Not only should Burge be denied his pension but the city of Chicago should also be forced to stop paying for his civil defense cases in court," said Taylor. Instead the city should compensate the countless torture victims based on their wrongful convictions, he added.

"Next, we have to get the new mayor of Chicago and the new City Council (municipal elections here are Feb. 22nd) to deal with this issue and get these men out of jail," said Taylor. "We also need to bring to justice all the men under Burge who should be indicted for their crimes against humanity not to mention those who covered up the abuse for decades," he said.

Photo: Pepe Lozano

 

 

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  • Wake Up

    I really do not understand how sheeple react to death, and clearly injustice. Oscar Grant was shot in the back, period. Cold blooded. Cop lied saying he saw a gun, and then mistook a tazer.

    Next, the police lied, and killed a little girl, Aiyana Jones, with no care in Detroit. First the little girl was lit up with a incendiary device, and then shot from outside. The police lied about this, and it would have been interesting if the video crew were not there to see them lie like usual.

    The disregard for safety because these people are poor or black. We are the same people, and 1% DNA different from a chimp. Still there should be an eye for an eye, to quote the bible. In old wild west movies, people got revenge and killed those that killed their loved ones. The police have snipers, and so do the supposed villains. You have people with high powered rifles that shoot from huge 1 mile distances, and are never found. One example is the DC sniper. In other words, anybody can kill anybody else right or wrong, and yet there are many that don't exercise your right to bear arms, or get revenge for the wrongs done to them. What do people have to lose anymore. I am really trying to understand this world, so please tell me what I am missing.

    Look at those that have been wrongfully accused and sentenced for 30 plus years, and then are released. Their lives are over, and they do nothing. Psychologically there should be reactions from going postal to running away from the US after winning a hefty settlement. Instead they stay here afraid and allow the system to keep them beat down. They cannot even find jobs even though they are innocent because they are part of the system, ridiculous. Keep marching and protesting America, those that are in power are really listening to you.

    Now I am not condoning violence here, but I am tired of bloggers just talking their problems to death. You never do anything. What about when killers like Columbine happened. Why did none of the parents go after the parents when they lost their children. Why is not everyone armed, and if police or anyone tries to infringe on your rights in the name of whatever you make them think twice even if you have to die in a shootout. Why do some people own guns, but never fully practice with them. If you do not even the playing field, or at least protect yourself, you deserve to die like rats. We all have the right to bear arms, and you need to start protecting yourselves. If cops do not fear your, they will keep abusing you.

    At least cost your corrupt city money until it goes bankrupt, or each election vote to remove police, politicians and city workers. You could even vote that they have no firearms. Wow, corrupt cops without guns what a concept. If they want the job, they can take it or leave it. There is no reason that police cannot use non-lethals, and take their toys away. It is your city. Force your police to have cameras on them 24-7, and do cop watches of police until they are cleaned up. It is a coward who goes into a profession to bully people. It is also ungodly to treat another human being like you are playing a video game.

    You people need to really start thinking for yourself. I am leaving this country since we are laughing stock of the world with the highest prison rate in the world. Economy is shot. Our government is lying from Osama Bin Laden to the Fed. I really do not care anymore who inherits this God Forsaken America.

    Aside from how pissed off I am, my heart truly goes out to the family of the little girl, and I saw the grandmother crying her heart out. She definitely wanted revenge, and I am sure this tragedy will destroy what life she had left. I also feel bad for the family of Oscar Grant.

    Justice

    Posted by sector 19, 07/13/2011 6:02pm (3 years ago)

  • It's about time an article came out addressing this issue (getting somebody to do something about those that are still incarcerated where there was a conviction based on a confession alone).

    Another issue I have with all the articles that have been coming out is that this is only one of many that mention about the FACT that the torture and abuse and victims that were incarcerated as a result of being forced into signing a false confession did not stop upon the firing of John Burge in "1993". It continued through the officers that served under him and who were dispersed to other units to continue their corrupt ways. AND, in so many of the articles they focus on that it was "black men" when several cases also involved "latino/hispanic men".

    I have two very good friends who have been in Prison for 15 years (since "1995") who were victims of this group of officers too. They are Latino and other than the confessions that were drawn up by the Chicago Police and given to them to sign after over 15 to 20 hours of interrigation and abuse and refusing to get them an Attorney they both signed. They both filed "Motions to Suppress Statements" back in "1996" claiming the abuse and there was no DNA, no physical evidence, no witnesses and nothing linking them to the crime other than what the officers presented. One of those officers being John Paladino who in 5 other separate cases has been suspected of lying and putting in false evidence. I have evidence that Officer Paladino created false evidence to be used in this particular case too. It is still within Javier Romero's case file at the courthouse. It is a receipt for $7,700 that was never mentioned in either case, never deposited and the paperwork is signed by one officer and that being Officer Paladino.

    Can you help Javier Romero #K71209 and Jessee Settle #K53087????

    Posted by Joni Long, 02/12/2011 4:27am (4 years ago)

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