Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breaking: Feds Arrest ex-cop Burge

Breaking: Feds Arrest ex-cop Burge
Chicago Tribune, October 21, 2008
[ http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2008/10/feds-arrest-ex-chicago-cop-burge.html ]

Retired Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge was arrested at his home near Tampa, Fla., today on charges of lying in a civil case about whether he and other officers under his command tortured and physically abused suspects in police custody dating back to the 1980s, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Burge was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury in a three-count indictment unsealed today following his arrest.

The charges alleged that Burge lied and impeded court proceedings in November 2003 when he provided false written answers to questions in a civil lawsuit alleging that he and others engaged in torture and abuse of suspects.

Burge, 60, now living in Apollo Beach, Fla., near Tampa, was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Tampa at 1 p.m. Chicago time.

"There is no place for torture and abuse in a police station," said U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald in a news release. "There is no place for perjury and false statements in federal lawsuits. No person is above the law, and nobody--even a suspected murderer--is beneath its protection."

The investigation is continuing, authorities said.

A special prosecutors' report paid for by Cook County and released in 2006 concluded that dozens of suspects had been tortured by Chicago police but that no one could be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out.

Today's indictment gets around that legal problem by charging Burge with perjury, not with any instances of actual torture.

Burge denied any torture took place while answering written questions in 2003 as part of the lawsuit filed by one of the alleged victims, Madison Hobley.

According to the indictment, the Hobley lawsuit included a specific allegation that police officers placed a plastic bag over Hobley's head until he lost consciousness.

The indictment cites the questions and answers during the civil questioning, noting that Burge was asked whether he ever used torture methods--including beatings, the use of restraints or machines to deliver electric shocks--or whether other officers were involved.

Burge objected to the question as overly broad, and then answered: "I have never used any techniques set forth above as a means of improper coercion of suspects while in detention or during interrogation."

In January, the city approved a $20 million settlement with four alleged torture victims.

According to the indictment, Burge was a Chicago police officer from 1970 to 1993, a detective at Area 2 police headquarters on the South Side from 1972 to 1974, and an Area 2 sergeant from 1977 to 1980.

From about 1981 to 1986 he was a lieutenant and supervisor of detectives in the Area 2 violent crimes unit. Later, he was commander of the Bomb and Arson Unit and later commander of Area 3 detectives.

He was suspended by the police department in 1991 and fired in 1993.

--Jeff Coen and Angela Rozas, Chicago Tribune


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