Since the first reports of Chicago police torture surfaced a quarter century ago the list has swelled to nearly 200 cases involving dozens of public employees—and still no one has been prosecuted. Now, with the results of a four-year, multimillion dollar investigation due any day, here’s a guide by staff reporter John Conroy to the key figures in the scandal. Some of them may look familiar.
Courtesy of the People's Law Office
Courtesy of Chicago Tonight/WTTW
Has known Burge since childhood and admitted to being his “right-hand man” at Area Two. Accused of cattle prod torture and numerous attacks aimed at genitals. Left CPD after he got his law degree but subsequently disbarred for taking money from clients—including police officers and firefighters—for whom he did no work, an ethical lapse he attributes to clinical depression. He collects a police pension and works as a private investigator.
Accused of torture, often with John Byrne. Named in 17 of the PLO’s list of 105 cases, accused of mock execution, electrical torture, suffocation, and beatings with flashlights and phone books. Promoted to lieutenant by Superintendent Terry Hillard in 1998 despite being named a “player” in an internal police investigation of torture in 1990. Retired, pension intact, from the force, he now works for the Cook County sheriff. (For more on Dignan see “Shot in the Dark,” November 6, 1998.)
Burge’s partner in the early 1970s, and named as a participant in the first publicly known use of electric shock in 1973. Commander of Internal Affairs when data on police personnel gathered by software program Brainmaker—in order to identify problem officers—was erased. Later became assistant deputy superintendent, now retired. Granted immunity from prosecution in Burge scandal by special prosecutor Edward Egan.
An archive of John Conroy's reporting on the police torture scandal is available at chicagoreader.com/policetorture.