Chicago Police Lieutenant Who Failed to Investigate Sergeant Accused of Sexual Assault for 5 Years Should Be Fired, Watchdog Says

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

A lieutenant with the Chicago Police Department should be fired for failing to investigate an allegation that a CPD sergeant sexually assaulted a member of the public, according to a probe by the city’s watchdog.

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Both the lieutenant and the sergeant were assigned to the police department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs, which is charged with investigating allegations of misconduct lodged against CPD officers, according to the quarterly report released Monday by Inspector General Deborah Witzburg.

Read the full report.

Neither the lieutenant nor the sergeant were identified in the inspector general’s report, in keeping with the city’s rules.

Chicago police leaders have “preliminarily concurred” with the watchdog’s recommendations and have begun the process of terminating the lieutenant.

It is unclear whether the sergeant, accused of sexually assaulting a member of the public while serving as a police officer assigned to a district, has been charged criminally or faced discipline by the department.

While the lieutenant began the investigation in October 2012, “they did not engage in any investigative activity in the case from October 2012 until May 2018,” according to the report.

While the lieutenant interviewed the sergeant five years after the last investigative step was taken, they asked the sergeant “complex, compound questions that allowed the sergeant to avoid addressing the alleged conduct at issue in the investigation,” according to the report.

In addition, the lieutenant “failed to interview potentially significant witnesses, including the sergeant’s partner, and in drafting an investigative report the lieutenant failed to account for evidence that weighed in favor of the alleged victim’s credibility,” according to the report.

The lieutenant told the inspector general during the probe that they were ordered by the then-commander of the Bureau of Internal Affairs to stop investigating the matter.

However, the former commander — who was also not named in the report — denied issuing any such order and the lieutenant “never documented that purported hold order, none of the documents from [Bureau of Internal Affairs] investigatory file reflect any such order.”

A 2016 probe by the U.S. Department of Justice found that Chicago police officers were rarely held accountable for misconduct because of badly broken systems as well as a “code of silence” among officers that allowed them to act with impunity.

CPD has fully complied with just 6% of the court order known as the consent decree designed to require the police department to change the way it trains, supervises and disciplines officers.

Witzburg said in a statement that her office would step-up efforts to publish more detailed information about closed police disciplinary investigations by the Bureau of Internal Affairs and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability “in an effort to shine a brighter light into a system whose complexities make for shadowy corners.”

In a separate probe, Witzburg’s report found that a Chicago police officer threatened a driver with a ride-hailing service with a gun while intoxicated off-duty. That officer was ultimately suspended for 25 days, according to the report.

The driver was so frightened that they pulled over, got out of their vehicle and called police for help. 

However, the now-retired CPD sergeant who responded to the driver’s call for help “wrote a false report that minimized the extent of the intoxicated officer’s misconduct, resulting in the officer receiving unduly light discipline.”

After the inspector general urged police brass to discipline the officer for the full extent of his misconduct, not the false version offered by the sergeant, according to the report.

Another CPD sergeant who responded to the call for help “prematurely ordered officers to turn off their body-worn cameras after learning that the intoxicated individual was a CPD officer,” according to the report.

Police brass agreed to suspend the sergeant for 14 days, after the watchdog urged they be disciplined, according to the report.

In addition, two CPD officers who responded to the call “failed to document the incident involving the intoxicated officer in any report,” according to the watchdog.

Police brass agreed to suspend the two officers for seven days, after the watchdog urged they be disciplined, according to the report.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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