A Chicago police officer has been suspended for nine months after the city’s Police Board ruled he displayed “remarkably poor judgment” by engaging in an “improper sexual relationship” with a woman who had called 911 following a burglary.
The board during its regular monthly meeting Thursday reached an 8-1 decision to suspend Officer Daniel Otero for 270 days for violating a CPD rule which prohibits “any action or conduct which impedes the Department’s efforts to achieve its policy and goals or brings discredit upon the Department.”
Otero had faced a possible termination after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman hours after she’d reported a burglary at her home.
That charge dates back to April 3, 2016, when a then-22-year-old woman called 911 after she’d been awakened in her apartment by a stranger shining a flashlight at her. The woman ran to her neighbor’s apartment, while the intruder fled with the woman’s wallet, purse and cell phone, according to the police board's findings.
Otero and another officer responded and interviewed her, finding that she was “clearly frightened.” After the officers completed their report on the incident, the woman asked to be taken to a public place, rather than returning to her apartment.
Otero claimed he accompanied her back into her apartment to get some personal items before leaving, when he said she began “flirting and touching him” before giving him her email address and asking him to contact her to hang out later, according to the police board report.
According to Otero, he emailed the woman before the end of his shift, and then picked her up at a Starbucks after he was off-duty. He testified that the woman wanted to go back to her apartment with Otero, where they engaged in sexual intercourse.
But the woman reported to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability that this occurred “without her consent.”
She said Otero had asked her for her email address, which she provided in place of her phone number because her phone had been stolen, according to COPA’s report on the incident. The woman said that when Otero arrived at her apartment, he suggested they have a drink before he “guided” her to her bed, the COPA report states.
At that point, she claimed he sexually assaulted her. While she told COPA she felt “confused, in disbelief, and ashamed” after the incident, it wasn’t until four years later that she reported the alleged assault to COPA.
Both COPA and former Police Superintendent David Brown recommended Otero be fired from the department.
According to the police board, the woman declined to have any involvement in Otero’s disciplinary proceedings and did not testify before the board during its investigation.
The charge that was upheld did not accuse him of sexual assault. Instead, the board determined Otero’s actions “reflect adversely” upon the CPD.
“His conduct undermines public confidence in the judgment of CPD officers and the Department’s mission,” the board wrote in its findings. “In particular, members of the public are more likely to be hesitant to call for police assistance for themselves or others if they are concerned that responding officers may later attempt to engage in a sexual relationship with them when they are frightened or may feel vulnerable.”
The lone dissenting vote was cast by board president Ghian Foreman, who felt that “more severe disciplinary action” against Otero was justified.