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.
AP/Wide World Photos
Bill St. James
Richard M. Daley
AP/Wide World Photos
AP/Stephen J. Carrera
As police superintendent in 1984 received report from the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) on allegations of electrical torture made within the previous 12 months. The document, compiled by OPS supervisors, mentioned Burge and three incidents from Area Two—not including the Andrew Wilson case and others that occurred earlier—in addition to allegations of electric shock in Districts 1, 9, 11, 14, 19, and 20. Subsequently gave Burge a double promotion—from lieutenant, skipping the rank of captain—to deputy commander. In 1992 testified as character witness for Burge at Police Board hearings, saying he had no regrets about the promotion.
Burge’s supervisor as commander of Area Two in 1983, during which time torture continued. As superintendent of police in 1990 received two OPS reports on torture at Area Two: one concluded that Wilson had indeed been tortured with electric shock, the other stated that physical abuse was “systematic” at Area Two under Burge’s command and that it “included psychological techniques and planned torture.” Sat on these reports for more than a year, finally ordering administrative hearings, which resulted in Burge’s dismissal in February 1993. Now chief of investigations for Cook County medical examiner.
As high-ranking assistant state’s attorney failed to ask brothers Andrew and Jackie Wilson if their confessions had been given voluntarily, a highly unusual mistake for any experienced prosecutor but particularly one interviewing a cop killer. Did he have evidence of torture in February 1982? If he did and if he’d exposed it then, would the torture have ceased? Took the Fifth before the Burge grand jury. May be the John Doe now asking the Illinois Supreme Court to block publication of the special prosecutor’s report. (See “What Does John Doe Know,” June 9, 2006.)
RICHARD M. DALEY
More than 50 men alleged that they were tortured by Burge and his detectives during Daley’s term as Cook County state’s attorney, from 1981 to 1989. He was put on notice several times, most dramatically in the case of Andrew Wilson. Photographs of Wilson’s stitches, burns, and alligator- clip wounds made compelling evidence in court, underlined by Hyman’s failure to ask if Wilson had given his statement voluntarily. Received copy of letter from Dr. John Raba, who as medical director of Cermak Hospital examined Wilson’s injuries, urging police superintendent Richard Brzeczek to investigate. Brzeczek told Daley he had promised to investigate all cases of police brutality but did not want to jeopardize Wilson’s prosecution and asked for guidance. Daley sent no reply. Mayor of Chicago since 1989.
As Cook County state’s attorney from December 1990 to December 1996 had far more information than Daley that a torture ring had been in operation at Areas Two and Three, and on his watch torture continued at Area Three. By March 1994 even the city’s own lawyers had admitted that torture had taken place at Area Two. Prosecuted no one. Currently serving on the Illinois Appellate Court.
First assistant state’s attorney under Daley when Wilson and more than 20 others were tortured. Went into private practice in 1983, and in 1989 briefly represented Burge in Wilson’s civil suit. Also profited from his firm’s million-dollar defense of Burge and fellow detectives, paid for by the city. After taking the o8ce of state’s attorney in December 1996 he fought victims’ appeals relentlessly and moved to quash the petition to appoint a special prosecutor despite clear conflict of interest. Before clearing death row in 2003, Governor George Ryan pardoned four Burge victims, saying not only that they had been tortured but that they were innocent, a clear rebuke to Devine and other prosecutors. Devine denounced the pardoned men as “evil.”
An archive of John Conroy's reporting on the police torture scandal is available at chicagoreader.com/policetorture.