Attorneys for a Chicago Police Commander acquitted earlier this year in a high-profile criminal case have filed a lawsuit against his accusers and the media, Crooked City has learned.Read More
Filtering by Category: Glenn Evans
Just a few days after Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans was acquitted on all charges that he stuck a gun in a suspect’s mouth and threatened his life, the Chicago media began covering their tracks.
The Chicago Tribune, which had been publishing one article after another claiming DNA evidence in the case indicted Evans, published a grudging editorial suggesting that Evans was, after all, falsely accused by a self-admitted street dope dealer.
The Tribune :
But the public ought to defer to the judge's evaluation of the case. Sometimes cops are falsely accused, and there was more than enough reason to think that this was one of those instances.
Not everyone, however, on the Tribune team was back peddling. Columnist Eric Zorn offered no olive branch, though Zorn was all over the case when the story first broke, saying that even the superintendent was part of what Zorn termed a “scandal,” in light of the allegations against Evans.
Rather than apologize for getting yet another story involving the Chicago Police completely wrong, Zorn posted an article on his Facebook page written by his long-time wrongful conviction soulmate Rob Warden, a former top dog of Northwestern University’s Law School.
In this shocking article—one that borders on the deranged in its barely disguised and wholly unjustified fury against the judge in the case, Judge Diane Cannon, Warden hurls one of the most vindictive, ludicrous, and nonsensical attacks on a judge ever published. Claiming that “perhaps Cannon simply is not educable,” Warden states:
Thus, even assuming that the acquittal of Glenn Evans was colorable and rational — a dubious proposition, given the absence of a plausible explanation consistent with innocence for the DNA on his service pistol — Cannon is anything but a credit to the criminal justice system. Her decision in the Evans case exemplifies a double-standard: If acquittals generally were warranted by evidentiary inconsistencies as inconsequential as those that Cannon claimed left her with reasonable doubt about Evans’s guilt — the complaining witness was inconsistent in his description of the weapon involved and told investigators at one point that the officer who assaulted him used his left hand although Evans is right-handed — there would be far, far fewer convictions.
Try reading that paragraph ten times and figuring out what Warden is saying, apart from the fact that he’s furious Cannon acquitted Evans.
That Zorn, or anyone really, still holds Warden as some legitimate authority on alleged police misconduct cases is, in and of itself, fairly shocking. It would take thousands of pages to list the abuses that took place at Northwestern University in the years Warden worked there to fully demonstrate the lengths to which Warden and his minions will go to construct a fraudulent misconduct case against Chicago Police Officers.
But suffice it to say that no judge, even those most sympathetic to wrongful conviction zealots like Warden, could convict Evans on what prosecutors brought forth as “evidence” in the Evans trial. The complainant could not identify Evans in two photo lineups. His story changed over andover again as new evidence emerged and the DNA experts who conducted the test admitted it was not conclusive evidence of Evans’ guilt.
“His [Williams’} testimony taxes the gullibility of the credulous," Judge Cannon declared.
So what the hell is Warden talking about? A judge ruled based on the evidence, or, in this case, the lack of it. So what?
It is a mark of the radicalism that permeates the anti-police campaign by Warden, Northwestern, and Zorn that Warden could attack Cannon so viciously in response to a verdict she had no choice to make. Warden’s ludicrous article—and Zorn’s willing to broadcast it to his readers on Facebook, even as his own paper was admitting the case against Evans was no good, is another example of how wrongful conviction advocates and their media allies engage in an intense attack upon anyone, be it cop, prosecutor, witness, journalist, or even a judge, who dares question their efforts to vilify the police.
One has to step back from the Evans case and ask a question: Why? Why was the Evans case so important to Warden, the Tribune, and Zorn in particular? Why did they make Evans a target of a media frenzy with evidence that quickly withered away in his trial? Why would they build such a case on the claims of street dope dealer, whose testimony “taxes the gullibility of the credulous.”
The reason becomes clear when one looks more closely at the history of nine murders, murders inextricably linked to Glenn Evans, in which the offenders were fraudulently released from prison, in large part through the collusion of journalists like Eric Zorn in cooperation with wrongful conviction activists like Rob Warden.
In the context of these nine murders, the criminal case against Evans appears as a desperate attempt by wrongful conviction activists and their media allies to undermine Evans’ credibility as these murders potentially move back into the legal and public spotlight. If they do—and they should—no one stands to lose more than Eric Zorn.
First, the history.
It was 2005 and the biggest wrongful conviction case in the state’s history, the exoneration of Anthony Porter for a double murder in 1982, was headed to a civil trial. Porter’s attorneys were trying to fleece the city out of $24 million, claiming detectives framed Porter for the shooting. The trial itself was a surprise, as no one expected the Porter civil case to make it into a courtroom. Rather, they expected a settlement. There was just too much media hype, spearheaded by Zorn and his Tribune, pushing the claim that Porter was innocent and the cops and prosecutors were crooked.
But the detectives fought desperately for a trial, hoping to show the jury and the public that, despite the claims of journalists and columnists like Zorn, Porter was the killer and should never have been released.
The detectives’ strategy was partly successful. In the trial, their attorney, Walter Jones, proved once again that Porter was the killer. The jury ruled against Porter and for the detectives. Porter, a gang enforcer, got no money.
But the detectives’ hopes that their names would be cleared, and the truth about Porter being the killer would come out, were dashed. After the verdict, Eric Zorn wrote one of the most chilling columns in the history of the city, revealing clearly just what happens to anyone who contradicts his anti-police party line. Zorn published a vicious attack on Jones, who stated moments after the civil trial that he believed Porter was the killer.
Yet Tuesday, shortly after the jury's verdict was announced, Walter Jones, the attorney representing the city, pointed to the table in the courtroom where Porter sat during the trial and told Tribune reporter Charles Sheehan: "The killer has been sitting in that room right there all day."
It was a stunning, graceless and infamous accusation.
Anthony Porter was innocent.
In this column, Zorn is almost frothing at Jones for declaring what Jones had just proven in court: Porter was guilty. Zorn condemns Jones and declares Porter innocent. It is almost impossible to look back at this column by Zorn in the context of what had just taken place in the trial as anything but willful deception.
And so, thanks mostly to Eric Zorn and his willingness to ignore all the evidence that Porter was guilty, and his willingness to attack anyone who pointed it out, the Porter-is innocent myth carried on, all the way until two years ago, when the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez reviewed the case. After a year-long review, Alvarez attacked the conduct of Northwestern investigators who fought for Porter’s exoneration based on the claim that another man, Alstory Simon, committed the murders. Alvarez set Simon free. In releasing Simon, Alvarez singled out two men in the Northwestern investigation for their likely illegal conduct in framing Simon to free Porter, former Professor David Protess and private investigator Paul Ciolino.
The release of Simon from prison and then the declaration by a judge that he was innocent several months later revealed just how depraved was Zorn’s column after the civil trial, nine years earlier. Zorn could have looked fairly at the facts of the case all the way back in 2005. But he didn’t. In doing so, he acted as a kind of media henchman for Northwestern Professor Protess, Ciolino and the rest of the wrongful conviction zealots who had fraudulently exonerated Anthony Porter and framed Alstory Simon.
Zorn’s vicious attacks on Walter Jones, and then on those who were fighting to free Alstory Simon, are hardly different from the vicious attacks Zorn’s ally Rob Warden has now leveled against Judge Cannon in the Evans case.
See the pattern here? Disagree with us and we will launch a vicious attack on you. Zorn is the media strongman, enlisted by wrongful conviction activists not only to push their fraudulent claims, but then to attack their critics.
But Zorn’s conduct in the Porter case is only a prelude to an altogether more macabre plot in which he also played a key role. This was his writing about the arson by Madison Hobley in January of 1987, an arson in which seven people were burned to death, including Hobley’s own wife and child. Scores were injured, some of them badly burned, others when they leaped out of upper floor windows to escape the flames.
In March, 1998, Zorn wrote:
The case against Hobley, then an employed medical technician with no criminal convictions on his record—is far from overwhelming. It's based primarily on the testimony of two witnesses who said they saw him buying a can of gas shortly before the fire and the testimony of police from Area 2—a station where the city now admits suspects were routinely tortured—that Hobley confessed his guilt to them. Hobley maintains he, too, was tortured by interrogators.
Again, it is extraordinarily difficult not to see these columns by Zorn, just like his columns about the Porter case, as willful deception. The reason is that Zorn’s columns on the Madison Hobley exoneration omit two crucial words: Glenn Evans.
One of the most powerful, unequivocal pieces of evidence pointing to Hobley’s guilt was brought by Glenn Evans himself.
Several weeks before Hobley set the fire that killed the seven people, he was overheard by Evans making arson threats on a telephone call. Evans, a rookie at the time, heard the threats after he and his partner were called to a residence where Hobley’s wife was staying with a friend after she temporarily broke up with Hobley.
Evans, even though he was just a rookie, was so troubled about the arson threats that he documented them in a case report, then wrote another report to his supervisors about them. He contacted detectives working the Hobley arson after he heard about the fire. When the detectives learned of these documented threats, they were certain they had the right man.
It would not take a keen investigator to see the magnitude of Hobley’s arson threats just weeks before the actual arson. It is bombshell evidence, showing clearly that setting his wife and child on fire were foremost in Hobley’s mind for weeks. But try to find one sentence in any Zorn column about the Hobley arson acknowledging this key piece of evidence. Just one sentence. Zorn simply ignored it, ignoring that this evidence refuted Zorn’s own ludicrous claims that the evidence against Hobley was not “overwhelming.”
What kind of journalist writes about a fire that kills seven people, including two children, and ignores the indisputable fact that the offender made threats to commit this arson weeks before he actually did so?
One can see, then, what a shattering disappointment it is for the Tribune, Zorn, Warden and the other wrongful conviction supporters in the city that Evans was acquitted of all criminal charges earlier this month. Had he been convicted—if he had even taken a plea bargain—Zorn and Warden could have discredited any claims made by Evans in the Hobley case.
“Well, Evans makes these claims about the Hobley case, but, after all, here was a man convicted of sticking his pistol down the mouth of a suspect and threatening his life,” Zorn could have written.
And it isn’t just Evans’ role as a key witness in the Hobley case that contradicts Zorn’s incredible claim that the evidence against Hobley was not “overwhelming.” Here’s a few things other things Zorn never mentions about the case:
—Witnesses at the crime scene described Hobley wearing completely different clothes than what Hobley claimed, a clear sign he was trying to hide those clothes because they might have traces of the gasoline on them, the gasoline he spilled outside his apartment door and down the stairwell. Hobley admitted in his confession that he had lied about the clothes he was wearing, just as the witnesses said.
—Hobley was never observed by any witness making any attempt to rescue his son or wife, though he participated in the rescue of others. He was never observed making any attempt to call up to them in their apartment. What husband/father wouldn’t be manic in his attempt to rescue his own wife and child?
—Hobley’s changing accounts of his escape from the building while his wife and child remained inside contradicted the vast forensic evidence of the fire. Fire investigators testified that if Hobley had gone out into the hallway of the building to investigate, as he claimed, he would have been incinerated.
—Hobley eventually told detectives he suspected his mistress was the real offender, yet in the hours after the fire he never made any attempt to notify the police, or any authorities, about the woman he says he believed just burned his own wife and son to death. Who believes they know who just killed their own wife and child and doesn’t bother to alert authorities?
—Hobley failed a lie detector test, then confessed to the detective administering it. He then confessed again to two detectives. If the detectives had framed Hobley, they would have had to bring this other detective in on their conspiracy, quite a tall request in a quintuple murder case covered extensively by the media. Hobley provided details of buying the gas in his confession, details that matched what two witnesses, one of them the owner of the gas station, said. Were these witnesses part of a conspiracy as well?
The evidence goes on and on that Hobley was, in fact, overwhelmingly guilty, just as the evidence showed Anthony Porter was overwhelmingly guilty of a double murder. The jury in the Hobley trial was convinced, so much so that the jury voted to give Hobley the death penalty.
The truth is that Zorn’s columns about the Porter and Hobley cases are emerging as some of the most disturbing columns ever written by a Chicago journalist.
But hold on. It gets worse.
Zorn and his allies who were claiming Hobley was innocent scored one Pyrrhic victory in their crusade to undermine the case based on evidence. In an appeal by Hobley’s attorneys to the Supreme Court, the court was troubled enough by some claims about a gas can taken recovered by detectives to demand an evidentiary hearing. Judge Dennis Porter conducted these hearings. In them, Hobley’s attorneys made various arguments of a police conspiracy based on a gas can, which detectives recovered from the building the day after the fire. True to form, the attorneys alleged that detectives planted the gas can as part of their frame-up of Hobley.
What followed was two years of intense scrutiny by Judge Porter into every facet of the gas can conspiracy theory by Hobley’s lawyers, a theory Porter soundly rejected after the lengthy process. In the end, Porter openly ridiculed many of the claims made by Hobley and his attorneys.
Zorn’s reaction after he attended the hearing in which Judge Porter rejected the conspiracy theories?
Accordingly, the other half of my expectation Monday morning was that [Judge] Porter would do just as he did--shade the benefit of the doubt on each issue to the prosecution, thereby allowing the Cook County state's attorney's office to keep the lid on this can of worms a little while longer.
In other words, Zorn attacked Porter, claiming Porter was not ruling on the evidence, or again, the lack of it, but simply bailing out prosecutors, just as Warden attacked Judge Cannon in the wake of her not guilty ruling in the Evans case, and just as Zorn attacked attorney Walter Jones for daring to claim that Anthony Porter was guilty of a double murder.
See the pattern again here? Disagree with us and we’ll attack you like a bunch of rabid wolves.
What Zorn will not admit is the obvious: It would have been impossible for the courts to extend any more latitude to Hobley’s attorneys to prove their loony theory that Hobley was innocent.
Tellingly, Zorn also fails to inform his readers that Judge Porter also ruled that a witness brought forth by Hobley’s attorney in the gas can saga—an inmate in prison—was lying.
Prosecutors in the Hobley case:
Judge Porter’s ruling was issued after two years of discovery, including depositions, and after hearing voluminous testimony. Significantly, Judge Porter ruled that the linchpin of Hobley’s “planted can” theory, fellow arsonist Donnell McKinley, committed perjury in attempting to support this conspiracy hearing.
It wouldn’t be the last time one of Zorn’s treasured wrongful conviction theories would be rife with witnesses accused of lying.
Hold on, though, it gets even worse for Zorn. There are even more fundamental ties between the corruption in the Porter exoneration and in Hobley’s.
One of the bombshell developments in the Hobley exoneration was a claim of attempted bribery by a central witness, Andre Council—one of the witnesses who saw Hobley purchase the gasoline shortly before the fire. Council told prosecutors that one of Hobley’s attorneys, DePaul Law School Professor Andrea Lyon, and a private investigator, Paul Ciolino—the same Ciolino who worked the Porter case—paid a visit to Council’s home. There, Council said, Lyons and Ciolino attempted to bribe Council into changing his testimony against Hobley.
Zorn’s columns cover this chilling sign of bribery in an arson that left seven people dead, right?
Nope. Not a word from Zorn.
Nevertheless, Council’s statement is a crucial bridge from the Hobley case to the Porter, tied together by private investigator Paul Ciolino, who worked on both cases and stands accused of bribing statements from witnesses in both exonerations, including bribing the so-called confession from Alstory Simon in the Porter case.
Zorn is at the center of these cases as a columnist who wrote extensively about both of them, claiming the convicted killers were innocent. But more and more, these nine murders cast a dark shadow on Zorn and the Chicago media’s relationship to the wrongful conviction movement.
These nine murders also provide a chilling explanation why this media machine seemed almost hysterical in their drive to see Evans convicted in a case that held so little legitimate evidence of his guilt from the outset.
No doubt Zorn and his entourage assumed—hoped, really—that Evans would have taken a deal and pled guilty to a lesser charge. But they underestimated Evans’ courage, his willingness to fight the case at the risk of everything. The fact that Evans witnessed Hobley’s crime and then witnessed this mass killer walk free from death row no doubt was a pivotal reason Evans fought, and prevailed.
And that may not be the end of it for Zorn. Evidence mounts that more cases will emerge undermining the legitimacy of his columns for the last two decades.
Public relations executive and former Tribune reporter, Dan Curry, for example, has published a blog, What Really Happened in Paris, focusing on corruption in another downstate double murder case that led to the exoneration of two convicted killers.
That case, spearheaded again by Northwestern University’s David Protess, was covered extensively by Eric Zorn.
In that case, Curry questions why Zorn at one time covered every aspect of the story when he was alleging a wrongful conviction, but is now silent when new evidence emerges that the original offenders may be guilty after all.
In Zorn’s case, it simply is a bridge too far to declare himself possibly wrong about the numerous columns he wrote about the case. He has already declared himself possibly wrong about the Anthony Porter case, also involving Northwestern University. One case could be an anomaly — two might be a pattern.
One wonders: Are the nine murders hanging over Zorn’s head now turning into eleven? What will be the final tally?
There is another reason why Zorn and his wrongful conviction allies would want Evans discredited. Zorn and his entourage of media colleagues built much of their movement in painting former Commander Jon Burge and his men as racist thugs, as cops who went around torturing suspects. Those allegations never went anywhere in a courtroom until the Hobley case came along. In the end, Burge’s sole conviction in connection with the torture allegations arose from the Hobley case.
What will it mean for Zorn, Warden, Northwestern and the rest of the wrongful conviction gang when the Hobley exoneration case is revealed as one of the greatest frauds ever perpetuated in the state’s history?
No wonder they all wanted Evans’ head so badly, his head on a wrongful conviction platter, paraded all around the most Crooked City.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the Hobley arson, titled Burn Patterns.
- Anthony Porter
- Black Lives Matter
- CHIP MITCHELL
- Darrell Cannon
- Dave Savini
- David Protess
- Englewood Four
- Eric Zorn
- Ford Heights Four
- G. Flint Taylor
- Glenn Evans
- Howard Morgan
- Jon Burge
- Loevy and Loevy
- Madison Hobley
- Mahaffey Murders
- Sun Times
- Willie Johnson
- Wrongful Conviction
False light is a legal theory that allows someone to file a lawsuit against a media outlet for publishing offensive and false facts.
Closely related to defamation, the false light theory claims that information released about an individual is wrong if it is misleading, unreasonable, and malicious.
The legal theory holds the following elements: a publication about someone, one made with actual malice, and one that places the individual in a perspective that would be considered highly offensive by a reasonable person.
More and more this false light legal theory seems to address the abuses Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans has endured by Chicago’s media machine.
Evans was indicted last year for allegedly sticking a gun in the mouth of gang member Ricky Williams after a chase in 2013.
A few days after Williams was arrested, Evans was called down to headquarters and ordered by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA)—the agency that investigates police misconduct—to submit his pistol for a DNA swab. A state police DNA report later indicated the swab showed Ricky Williams’ DNA was on Evans’ gun.
A media frenzy followed, describing the report as indicative of Evans’ guilt. Part of that frenzy included reporters requesting Evans’ work history and publishing complaints made against him over the course of his career.
But the criminal case against Evans has taken some heavy blows in the last few months, not the least of which is the emergence of possible exculpatory evidence. In June, the Cook County State’s Attorney announced that this evidence emerged from an inquiry by the city’s Inspector General (IG) into the IPRA, the agency that investigated Evans.
Exactly what that exculpatory evidence is, isn’t clear. Judge Diane Cannon has imposed a protective order in the case.
But a reporter for public radio station WBEZ, Chip Mitchell, has stated in his reports that one aspect of the investigation by the IG into IPRA is the release of the DNA report of Evans’ gun to the media. Mitchell and other media outlets have stated that this report was first released by Mitchell.
If IPRA released the report, it would be a significant violation of Evans’ due process and a serious blow in the case against him. It could be construed as an underhanded act to portray Evans in a negative light.
Did the reporter who allegedly first released the DNA report, Chip Mitchell, know that its release might be a violation of Evans’ due process? How did he get hold of it?
More so, is the report even indicative of Evans’ guilt at all?
Evans’ attorney, Laura Morask, has stated that the DNA could have gotten on the gun in various ways. Evans never denied, for example, that he was wrestling with Williams in the course of the arrest. So why then is the DNA report portrayed as such a bombshell piece of evidence against Evans?
It may be just as feasible that the state DNA report actually bolsters Evans’ account of what took place.
And what about the exculpatory evidence the prosecutor and IG have brought forth? Why didn’t the media discover it in the course of their investigation? If they were being reasonable in their reporting, wouldn’t they have discovered such evidence or learned that IPRA was itself the subject of an investigation?
Rather than discover this evidence, media reps like Mitchell at WBEZ and the Steve Schmadeke at the Chicago Tribune obtained the record of accusations made against Evans, records they obtained through Freedom of Information requests.
The reporters dug deeply into the allegations against Evans, but, it appears, not so deeply into other aspects of the case, such as potential misconduct by IPRA.
Then WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell took it a step further. He interviewed G. Flint Taylor from the People’s Law Office in an article in which Mitchell described the misconduct complaints against Evans.
Seeking a comment from Taylor is somewhat surprising.
The reason is that Taylor is the leading architect of the wrongful conviction movement in Chicago. His law firm has spent the last three decades vilifying Chicago Police Officers, claiming, among other things, that many are racist torturers. Taylor’s PLO is also infamous for its long client list and associations with native terrorist groups who have committed bombings and other violence throughout the country, many of them driven by an intensely anti-American, pro-Marxist ideology.
But in the last few years, Taylor’s claims about police corruption have taken their own body blows. Some of the seminal wrongful convictions Taylor and other wrongful conviction activists have cited as evidence of police wrongdoing have imploded, much as the Evans case now seems to be.
Chief among those is the Anthony Porter exoneration in 1999. Once the lynchpin wrongful conviction case in Illinois, the Porter exoneration is showing itself to be nothing more than a criminal conspiracy by wrongful conviction activists at Northwestern University, longtime allies of Taylor. The evidence of wrongdoing in the case was never difficult to find, but Taylor and his wrongful conviction cohorts ignored it for more than a decade.
Another key murder case, this time a mass murder in which seven people died in an arson, is also revealing itself to be every bit as corrupt as the Porter case. In this arson case, Madison Hobley was exonerated and released from prison. A key witness against Hobley was Evans, who maintains to this day—in defiance of the wrongful conviction mythology posited by Taylor—that Hobley was guilty of the arson.
The Evans connection to the Hobley arson in light of the indictment on charges that would undermine his credibility in any criminal case is a connection Mitchell, or any other reporter, will not draw.
Mitchell does not explain is just why he still considers Taylor a reliable source for commentary on Evans’ case.
The evidence of wrongdoing among wrongful conviction lawyers and activists, including freeing a mass murderer and making him rich, pales in comparison to the accusations against Evans.
But Mitchell, and the Chicago media in general, nevertheless insist on running to Taylor for an almost obligatory comment against the police.
And Taylor delivered:
“He’s [Evans’] one of the worst [excessive-force] repeater cops in the history of the city of Chicago,” Taylor said. “He should be fired.”
One of the worst in the history of Chicago?
A police officer who went to the upper ranks of the department and worked in the most violent, crime-ridden neighborhoods is one of the worst excessive force cops in the history of the department? A police commander beloved by many people in the community, who garnered the support the superintendent and the mayor?
He should be fired?
On what basis does Taylor make this claim? And on what journalistic criteria does Mitchell publish it?
Clearly Judge Cannon did not see the misconduct complaints as holding much import. Clearly she didn’t see Evans’ work history in such an extreme perspective as Taylor did. In fact, Cannon ruled these misconduct complaints won’t be allowed into trial:
But in terms of relevance and materiality, the court found there was nothing systematic, nothing alleged in the OPS [IPRA] records. There was no history of brutality. The vast majority were not sustained of the OPS [IPRA] records, unfounded. The defendant was actually exonerated. The petitions were withdrawn. And, again, a large portion, the defendant was not the arresting or primary officer.
So what exactly is Flint Taylor talking about?
It’s almost as if Flint Taylor is the go-to guy when the media wants to press a case against police officers, when they want to hang them out to dry, as the media did to the detectives in the Porter case, and then in the Hobley case.
And then again, where is the coverage of Evans’ success? Where are the discussions of his awards, the breaking down of crime statistics before and after he came to a district?
What about his medal of valor?
In fact, isn’t fighting crime exactly what he was doing the night he chased Ricky Williams after observing Williams with a gun? Isn’t this what the police are supposed to be doing?
If the criminal case against Evans falls apart, how can all this blatantly biased reporting not be construed as malicious, a key element in proving the “false light” legal theory?
There is one more telling development in the case.
If Evans were truly guilty, wouldn’t he dread a trial? After all, he stands to lose everything: his pension, his job, his reputation, even his freedom. If he were guilty, there would likely be signs of a plea deal, but there is no evidence that Evans ever did anything but fight for a trial, as if he is chomping at the bit to get the evidence into court.
“I cannot comment directly on the case because of the protective order, but I am eager to go to trial and confident the evidence will absolutely show I am innocent,” Evans told Crooked City.
These are hardly the statements and actions of a guilty man.
It’s more like the conduct of a man guided by a singular vision, a vision that takes shape in the false light of the Crooked City.
Martin Preib is an awarding-winning writer and Chicago Police Officer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, chronicles his investigation into Chicago's wrongful conviction movement. Told in the gripping tension of a crime novel, Crooked City paints a dire picture of the movement to release convicted killers from prison.
More Articles by Category
- Anthony Porter
- Black Lives Matter
- CHIP MITCHELL
- Darrell Cannon
- Dave Savini
- David Protess
- Englewood Four
- Eric Zorn
- Ford Heights Four
- G. Flint Taylor
- Glenn Evans
- Howard Morgan
- Jon Burge
- Loevy and Loevy
- Madison Hobley
- Mahaffey Murders
- Sun Times
- Willie Johnson
- Wrongful Conviction
As lawyers for an indicted Chicago Police Commander pore over a large body of evidence that could undermine criminal charges against their client, the question arises whether this commander has been placed in the crosshairs of the city’s wrongful conviction machine.
Commander Glenn Evans was stripped of his police powers last year after he was indicted on charges that in 2013 he put a gun in the mouth of a suspect, gang banger Ricky Williams, and threatened Williams’ life. It was a narrative that took Evans out of the high regard he has enjoyed for cleaning up some of the worst neighborhoods in the city—including political support all the way up to the superintendent and mayor’s office—and put him in the sordid company of cops accused of the worst abuse, like former Commander Jon Burge and his men, cops accused of torturing suspects for decades.
The criminal case against Evans generated a frenzy by the media, particularly those with a history of supporting wrongful conviction claims, like public radio station WBEZ.
The main “evidence” against Evans was revealed by a reporter at the station, Chip Mitchell, who released a state police DNA report that stated Williams' DNA was on Evans’ gun. This report was announced as if it were a sign of Evans’ guilt.
WBEZ and other media outlets then filed Freedom of Information claims on Evans’ work record and listed the history of misconduct complaints against him.
Wrongful conviction lawyers jumped in to vilify Evans even further.
People’s Law Office Attorney G. Flint Taylor, from a WBEZ article:
“He’s one of the worst [excessive-force] repeater cops in the history of the city of Chicago,” Taylor said. “He should be fired.”
Evans, who has enjoyed widespread community support for cleaning up crime and taking a no-nonsense stand on gang members, apparently took no deal. Rather, he decided to go to trial. He then went on the offensive.
His attorney, Laura Morask, maintained that the state police DNA report signified nothing at all, except that Williams and Evans had come into contact with each other, something Evans never denied. There is no proof, she argued, that Evans put his gun in Williams’ mouth.
Then something incredible took place in the case.
As Evans stood his ground and fought the charges, the case began to unravel. Just before trial, the state’s attorney announced that potentially exculpatory evidence emerged from an investigation into the city agency that investigates police misconduct, Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA).
Apparently, there may be misconduct on the part of IPRA investigators in the way they handled the Evans case. IPRA had led the investigation against Evans.
One aspect of the misconduct at IPRA may be the release of the state police DNA report to WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell. Citing reporter’s privilege, Mitchell has not revealed how he got the report. But if IPRA did release the report, it would be an egregious violation of Evans’ due process.
With the announcement of possible wrongdoing at IPRA and the existence of exculpatory evidence, the momentum in the case has shifted to Evans’ favor. There is a palpable sense that a lot of people are nervous about the case.
Now questions abound: What is the exculpatory evidence Evans’ lawyers are now sifting through? Why didn’t IPRA, the media or prosecutors discover it? What will it indicate about the charges against Evans? Are the charges legitimate?
And if there is exculpatory evidence against Evans, why did so many institutions in the city go after him with such a vengeance?
The answer to this question may be tied to more than just the accusations of gang member Ricky Williams, for Evans’ career in the police department is tied intimately to the wrongful conviction movement that took shape in the years he went from patrolman to police commander.
And more and more the case against Evans resembles the pattern of corrupt tactics the wrongful conviction movement employs against the police, tactics that have become known recently through the renewed pressure from journalists, retired detectives, and Crooked City.
It’s a modus operandi that seeks to vilify police, regardless of evidence.
A Little History
To understand why Evans would be targeted by this movement, one has to return to a pivotal year in the city, 1999. At that time, convicted killer Anthony Porter was let out of death row for a double murder after investigators at Northwestern University, including David Protess and his students, and Private Investigator Paul Ciolino framed an innocent man, Alstory Simon, for killings Porter was originally convicted of committing. With this fraudulent confession by Simon, Porter was set free.
Last year, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez set Simon free from prison, saying that Protess and Ciolino violated Simon’s constitutional rights, and earlier this year a judge declared Simon innocent. The entire media machine that once celebrated the release of Porter, the most influential wrongful conviction case in the state’s history, had backed a fraudulent case without ever bothering to look at the evidence.
Porter was the killer all along.
It was a chilling sign of the power the wrongful conviction movement has over the Chicago media, the same Chicago media now going after Evans.
The narrative conjured up by Protess and Ciolino in the Porter case was based on the claim that detectives intentionally framed Porter and ignored evidence against Simon. The media and the prosecutors in 1999 went along with this narrative, a sign of the vast alliance between Chicago’s media and the wrongful conviction activists, many of whom have ensconced themselves in the city’s most prestigious universities.
The problem with this claim about the detectives in the Porter case was that there was never a shred of evidence they framed anyone. The clear facts of the detectives’ investigation proved such a framing was impossible and that Porter was the killer. It didn’t matter. Northwestern could push the false narrative with the support of the media, and so they did, despite the fact that detectives desperately fought to show that Porter was the killer all along. The prosecutor caved in and Porter was set free, a murderer walking around free as a bird.
Then Governor Ryan, like some third act of Shakespeare play, claimed he was so moved by the Porter exoneration that he placed a moratorium on the death penalty. The family members of dozens of killers were shocked and lashed out at the governor.
Now that the Porter case has imploded, a dark shadow is cast over several other wrongful conviction cases that followed in its wake.
Among them is one so chilling, so evil in the possibility that the suspect was, like Porter, fraudulently released, that the wrongful conviction machine dare not let the spotlight fall on it.
And that case is intimately tied to the career of Evans, when Evans was in his first year as a cop in 1986, utterly unaware that a relatively routine criminal damage to property call would alter the course of his life.
Evans and his partner were called to the home of Patricia Phiefer on the south side.
Phiefer showed the officers that an offender had thrown a brick through her window. The woman told the officers she believed the offender was a man named Madison Hobley.
Hobley had thrown the brick through her window because Pheifer was housing Hobley’s wife and child. Hobley’s wife, Anita, had separated from Hobley after she learned Hobley was having an affair.
Hobley—who had no criminal history—was irate about his wife leaving. He demanded that she return home. He had been regularly calling Phiefer’s home and making threats.
Sure enough, while Evans and his partner were writing out their report, the phone rang. Pheifer told the two officers it was likely Hobley calling, making threats again.
Evans picked up a second phone and listened in on the call. He heard Hobley make threats. Evans heard Hobley say he was going to burn down Phiefer’s apartment.
Evans, struck by the intensity of Hobley’s threats, became concerned. He documented the threat of arson in his case report. He also took the trouble to write out a report to his supervisors, letting them know he was concerned that Hobley’s threats of arson were sincere.
The Hobley Arson
Then Evans’ suspicion turned into a living nightmare. Weeks later, in January of 1987, Hobley fulfilled his arson threat by setting fire to the apartment building where he, his wife, and child lived.
Creating what investigators said was a chimney effect, the fire raged quickly and burned Hobley’s wife and his child to death. Five others also died. Some seventeen others were also injured, some with severe burns that required long stays in burn centers and skin grafts, others who suffered with mangled bones and backs from jumping from the third floor of the building to escape the flames.
Evans worked the night of the fire. He saw crime-scene photos of Hobley’s son, Philip, a boy he had met when he completed the case report for criminal damage weeks earlier. The image of Philip’s burned body never left Evans. The threat of arson weeks earlier haunted him.
“I had sons that were approximately his age at that time. After watching what was once a little boy burnt up beyond belief profoundly affected me. It affected me because it could have been my own sons that could have been victimized that way. Any child’s murder profoundly affects me.”
Hobley was convicted and sentenced to death. Then he began hanging out with a group of men on death row who were also arrested in Area 2 on the south side of Chicago, men who began encouraging each other to claim they were tortured by Jon Burge and his men. Hobley joined in, despite the absence of any evidence that he was coerced into confessing.
Harkening back to the Porter case, Hobley was pardoned by former Governor Ryan, pardoned despite the fact that no new evidence emerged indicating Hobley’s innocence. Every legal proceeding bolstered his conviction.
Just as the Porter case revealed the collusion between the wrongful conviction activists and the local media, Ryan’s pardon of Hobley with no new evidence, announced at DePaul University, signaled that the movement also had deep influence over the centers of the state’s political system.
Evans never for a moment believed Hobley was innocent.
“In my opinion Hobley is absolutely guilty, without a doubt. He made a very specific arson threat about his wife and child over a land line with a witness who also heard it. After he made the threat, approximately two months later, less than a mile away, a fire was set that killed his wife and child along with five other people,” Evans said to Crooked City.
Since his experience in the Hobley case, Evans has always been suspicious of the wrongful conviction movement and openly said so. He has long been a critic of law firms like the People’s Law Office, who have made claims of torture and coercion against the cops.
That wasn’t the end of it. Evans stated that he came forward to federal prosecutors and volunteered to testify against Hobley if they pressed charges against him. Those charges never materialized, though they should have, Evans said.
“It was my willingness to testify that engendered the ire and animosity of the anti-conviction crowd supporting Hobley,” Evans said.
When the Myths Fail
Dealing with the possibility that this central wrongful conviction case is a sham, much like Porter’s, is almost unimaginable for the entire city. How can Chicago admit that the entire city facilitated the release of a mass murderer on trumped-up theories of his innocence?
This question causes one to wonder what the real motive is behind Evans’ vilification.
Remember Alstory Simon, the guy Protess and Ciolino framed for the murders that Porter had been convicted of? Remember that Simon was let out of prison last year? Well, his lawyers filed a $40 million lawsuit against Northwestern, Protess, and Ciolino.
That lawsuit could force the city back to the Hobley case.
A central witness in the Hobley case testified under oath that Private Investigator Paul Ciolino, the same Ciolino who framed Simon for the murders, attempted to bribe this witness into changing his testimony against Hobley.
One particularly troubling aspect of this witness’s statement is that it matches the description by witnesses in the Porter case who also said they were bribed by Ciolino.
In short, Simon’s lawsuit threatens to reveal the dark modus operandi at the center of the wrongful conviction movement, leading to other cases, like Hobley’s.
In fact, that modus operandi is becoming clearer every day, even without Simon’s lawsuit taking shape.
One wonders, then, if the intense campaign to charge Evans with crimes, to accuse him of the sort of vicious, hateful treatment of suspects that is employed in most wrongful conviction cases, might not be part of a larger campaign to discredit him, to vilify him.
Absent from the media reports about Evans are his awards for crime fighting, his rescue of officers under fire that won him a Medal of Valor award.
The frenzy with which the entire city went after Evans on such insubstantial evidence, initiated by a gang member, seems to hold a kind desperation. There is also the sense that the entire alliance of players going after Evans, from the media to the wrongful conviction attorneys, to the prosecutor himself, all seemed to assume he would fold.
Perhaps there is a lesson in Evans’ strategy.
In any case, discrediting Evans would be crucial for the wrongful conviction machine.
The Hobley case is no murder in the park, like the Porter case. It is a mass murder involving children and many innocent people. It was a crime scene no responding cop could ever forget and it was a long brutal night going to the morgue, seeing the bodies, interviewing the family members. Detectives had to go to the hospitals. Some of them even watched the firemen carry out the bodies from the building.
Hobley’s innocence is maintained despite the chaos and horror of this crime scene, an almost impossible thing to imagine. It is built on a wrongful conviction narrative even more fragile than the narrative for Anthony Porter’s exoneration, a witless scenario that a group of detectives in the midst of such human suffering were so calloused, so evil that they concocted a fraudulent story against an innocent man. They did so while other detectives were scattered around the city gathering evidence that could easily undermine their trumped up theory. Somehow in an era without cell phones they reached out to all these other detectives and supervisors to get them to join in on their conspiracy, and all of them, without one protesting or refusing, went along with it. The detectives did this against a man they did not know, who had just lost his own wife and child.
And why, why would they risk their reputations, their freedom, their pensions to frame Hobley, whom none of them had ever met before?
All because he was black?
In the end, what is most incredible about so many wrongful conviction claims is that anyone could possibly believe they are true.
Think about it.
What a coincidence for the detectives to learn as they were framing Hobley that he just happened to threaten an arson against his family weeks earlier, a threat documented in a case report.
Talk about dumb luck in a frame-up job.
Or wait a minute. Was Evans’ case report documenting the arson threats also concocted?
Did the detectives write up a false report, give it a false report number, distribute it to the various departments and sneak it into the files there? Did they somehow know about Phiefer housing Hobley’s wife, the exact dates and times, her address, all within hours of the fire?
Did they then get Evans to go along with the frame-up, an officer in his first year on the job, still being trained by his Field Training Officer?
That would be tricky, all based on the claim that the detectives were acting from some racial animus, because Evans is African American.
And how about other details that emerged bolstering the detectives’ frame-up job? Hobley admitted, for example, that after he escaped the fire, in which his child and wife had died, he went to his mother’s apartment.
And what did he do?
He took a bath.
One wonders if there was ever in the vast history of violent crime in Chicago another instance in which a man who had just learned his wife and child had been killed in a fire, went and took a bath.
The fact that a bath far more likely signified he was once again trying to get rid of evidence—like the smell of gasoline residue spilled on his skin—is hardly mentioned by the wrongful conviction activists who fought so hard to free him.
But it certainly must have been a telling detail to the detectives, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and all the appeals courts that agreed with the guilty verdict.
It’s important to pause a minute and observe one key theme in both the Porter and Hobley cases. Both men based their exoneration claims on false claims of coercion, a sign that already in the 1980s making false claims against the police was common.
Yet the local media, and in particular WBEZ’s coverage of Evans, immediately ran to the record of complaints against Evans in his work history without acknowledging something all cops already know: Offenders routinely make false allegations against the police.
Why wouldn’t they? They’ve gotten out of prison for murders and then been made multi-millionaires for doing so.
Evans was never convicted on any misconduct charges and he enjoyed widespread support from the communities where he worked. But WBEZ and other media outlets jumped right on these complaints in every one of their pieces, never mentioning the vast body of evidence indicating that false accusations against the police are routine.
It Gets Worse
So the Hobley case was bad enough, right? Letting him out was bad enough, but that was the end of it, right?
One of the attorneys who represented Hobley and got him out was a law professor at DePaul University, Andrea Lyon.
After Northwestern freed Porter and other inmates and the school’s narratives of wrongful conviction won massive settlements in civil lawsuits, many other attorneys wanted a piece of the action. Wrongful conviction departments sprang up all over the city. Lyon was a faculty member in one of them. She had fought desperately to get Hobley out of prison, but she had lost every one of her appeals.
A measure of her unbridled zeal to get Hobley out, no matter how insubstantial her arguments were, was Lyon’s attempt to use a gas can police discovered at the scene the day after the fire as if it somehow signified police corruption. Lyon posited one theory after another that the police planted the gas can in an effort to frame Hobley. This claim initiated two years of evidentiary hearings before a judge, who vociferously rejected the claims, with rejections bordering on ridicule.
But it didn’t matter. Riding the hysteria of wrongful conviction that began with the fraudulent Porter exoneration, Lyon met with Governor George Ryan.
In an impassioned speech at Lyon’s DePaul University, Ryan announced he was pardoning Hobley and three other men.
Family members of the victims and the prosecutor, Dick Devine, were shocked. Equally shocked were Evans and every detective who had worked on the case.
From the New York Times:
Watching the live broadcast from her home on Chicago's South Side was Ollie Dodds, whose 34-year-old daughter, Johnnie, was among those killed in the 1987 fire for which Mr. Hobley was convicted.
''I just sat there and cried, I couldn't believe what he was saying,'' Ms. Dodds said, adding that if the governor had lost a daughter in the fire he would not have let Mr. Hobley go free.
Then there was a development so clearly corrupt that even in Chicago it was impossible to ignore.
Andrea Lyon, the attorney who talked Ryan into pardoning Hobley, became an attorney on George Ryan’s own defense team.
That’s right. After Ryan pardoned a mass murderer without any new evidence of this murderer’s innocence, and after the entire criminal justice system bolstered his guilt, Lyon then joined Ryan’s defense team, trying to keep out of prison the governor who sold his office for bribes.
Oh, yeah, she represented Ryan pro bono.
The fact that Lyon represented Ryan for free was a sign of such quid pro quo in a case involving a mass murder that even Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, the virtual public relations spokesman for the wrongful conviction movement, had to point it out:
My [Eric Zorn’s] take, which I explained to her, was that no matter what was in her [Attorney Andrea Lyon’s] heart, her membership on Ryan's pro bono legal team looked like payback-- a return favor, a quid pro quo (my last Latinate phrase today, I promise)-- which in turn made Ryan's actions on the death penalty look like a favor…
Lyon bristled at the suggestion of payback and, as I reported, said this was "absolutely not" the case…
Appearances, however, remain troubling.
The Jon Burge Conviction
Well, that’s the end of the story, right?
That’s the end of the outrages in the Hobley case?
Don’t bet on it.
There’s another sordid chapter. There is always another chapter in Chicago.
The crowning achievement in the wrongful conviction movement was the conviction of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, the poster boy by activists in their incessant claims that police are racist torturers. For years and years wrongful conviction advocates, led by the G. Flint Taylor at the People’s Law Office, had been fighting to nail Burge in a criminal case.
Taylor sued Burge twice over allegations of torture and lost both times. The juries didn’t buy his arguments about Burge and his men, just like the jury didn’t buy the claims of Hobley’s innocence.
Undaunted, Taylor pressed on with his claims.
He was able to generate an indictment against Burge on the claim that Burge lied during a civil case when Burge denied ever abusing anyone.
And the civil case in which Burge made this statement?
Jon Burge was convicted in connection with one of the greatest frauds ever perpetuated in Illinois’ history, one in which a mass killer was set free.
How devastating would it be for the wrongful conviction movement, for the entire city that has given it life, were it to be shown that, in order to convict Jon Burge, the city liberated an offender who incinerated his own family?
Things are getting a little anxious these days in Chicago.
The image of a no-nonsense, plain spoken Commander Glenn Evans, whose career is intimately tied to the Hobley arson and all its fallout, telling the truth about the Hobley arson is chilling for the wrongful conviction activists.
Best if he were discredited. Best if he were vilified, lest the truth ever come out in the Crooked City.
For more information about corruption in the wrongful conviction movement, check out the following books…
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and an award winning writer.
William Crawford is a retired Chicago Tribune journalist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Crawford and Preib have presented their findings about the wrongful conviction movement at universities, libraries, book readings, and literary gatherings, where they garnered excellent reviews. If you are interested in having them speak, please email CrookedCity24@hotmail.com.
Is the Cook County State’s Attorney intentionally delaying a problematic criminal case against a Chicago Police Commander until after an election?
The question moves to the forefront as the criminal case against Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans stumbles to its trial date this August.
Evans, who was indicted for allegedly putting his pistol in a suspect’s mouth after a foot chase in 2013 on Chicago’s south side, has seen the case go from a slam dunk against him to one that may fall apart at trial, or before.
The reason is that just before the case was set for trial in June, the state’s attorney announced to Judge Diane Cannon that potentially exculpatory evidence had come to light.
The state’s attorney stated that the city’s Inspector General (IG) had been investigating the conduct of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct. This review by the IG of IPRA included potential misconduct by the agency against Evans. After reviewing the evidence, Judge Cannon released it to Evans and his attorney, another sign that the IG investigation may benefit Evans’ defense.
The emergence of potentially exculpatory evidence for Evans was a bombshell in the case. If true, it would be a devastating blow to Cook County State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, whose indictment of Evans initiated a media frenzy, particularly among the anti-police media faction in the city. Now, if the case were to implode before her upcoming re-election bid in March, it could be a heavy blow to her re-election bid as well.
In response, the Evans case seems to limp along, one hearing after another, but with the trial constantly delayed.
One begins to wonder if this isn’t intentional by Alvarez, as if she is delaying the trial—and the troubling evidence that might come from it—until after it can no longer hurt her at the polls.
For the police, the allegations of corruption in the Evans investigation are particularly troubling. If the state’s attorney and IPRA are willing to go after a Chicago Police Commander based on corrupted investigations, they wonder, what would they be willing to do to a blue shirt or a detective?
The falling apart of the Evans case comes in the wake of other scandals in which the police have been the victims of fraudulent allegations of wrongdoing in high-profile murder cases, most notably the Anthony Porter case. In that case, wrongful conviction advocates trumped up false allegations against Chicago Police detectives, accusing them of framing convicted killer and gang enforcer Anthony Porter.
In order to free Porter, activists at Northwestern University obtained a coerced confession from another man, Alstory Simon.
Simon wasted away in prison for 17 years before prosecutors sprang him from jail after the evidence of corruption by Northwestern could no longer be denied.
Other cases are now appearing as equally dubious as the Porter case. This corruption appears to go back decades in Chicago. So the allegations of corruption against IPRA in the Evans case are of particular concern to cops.
If true, how deep is the corruption? How long has it been going on?
In the Evans case in particular, there are many unanswered questions:
Why did the state’s attorney wait all the way until the trial was supposed to start in June before announcing that there was new evidence in the case by the IG?
Why was it the state’s attorney that came forward with the evidence, and not the IG? Shouldn’t the IG have reported it themselves as soon as the case against Evans took shape?
There may be quite a body of evidence in the IG investigation that paints a dark picture of Alvarez’s willingness to charge Evans to begin with. For example, how did the IG find evidence of misconduct in IPRA, but the state’s attorney did not?
After all, it was an investigation by IPRA that initiated the criminal charges against Evans. Why was Alvarez basing her charges on an investigation that now appears to be falling apart?
If Alvarez is going to indict a cop on charges like this, wouldn’t her office have done a thorough review of the investigation to make sure it was sound?
And just what happened at IPRA that is now causing the case against Evans to go south?
What appears to be moving centerstage is the release of key evidence in the case to the media, specifically public radio station WBEZ. A reporter there, Chip Mitchell, somehow obtained a crucial state police DNA report that confirmed the DNA of Ricky Williams—the man Evans allegedly assaulted with his pistol—was on Evans’ pistol.
In a recent WBEZ broadcast, Mitchell admitted that one focus of the city’s IG investigation was the release of information from IPRA to the media.
Such a release, if it came from IPRA, could have a devastating impact on the criminal case against Evans, generating a host of legal problems for the city, including the potential claim that IPRA violated Evans’ due process.
IPRA is strictly forbidden from releasing evidence gathered in their investigations.
But the question remains:
Where and how did Mitchell get the DNA report?
Other questions loom over the subsequent release of the evidence by WBEZ. If IPRA violated Evans’ due process by leaking the report, is WBEZ also in trouble? Such a development would move the WBEZ coverage on the case away from journalism into a kind of media witch-hunt against Evans.
Perhaps these are issues that will be sorted out in other legal venues. As it is, Crooked City has learned that WBEZ reportedly hired high-powered law firm Jenner and Block in connection with Mitchell’s stories on Evans.
And then what about this DNA report itself? Is it the smoking gun WBEZ, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets say it is?
Evans’ attorney, Laura Morask, has repeatedly dismissed the state police DNA report, saying it is not proof that Evans stuck his gun in Williams’ mouth. It only proves what is called “multiple modes” of transmission, signifying only that the two men somehow came into contact, which is something that has never been denied. Evans was, after all, chasing an allegedly armed suspect—exactly what a cop should be doing.
If true—if the DNA on Evans’ gun does not conclusively prove that Evans stuck it in Williams’ mouth— it would be another devastating blow to the criminal charges against Evans and to the media coverage in general, which ran with the claims against Evans with an aggressiveness bordering on hysteria.
Like so many claims of police misconduct, the claims seem suspect when one considers the facts of the investigation against the accused officer. This is also true for Evans. Evans took a long drive to headquarters where he presented his weapon to investigators, who took a swab from it.
If he had stuck the gun in Williams’ mouth, wouldn’t he have had the sense to wipe it clean before going into headquarters?
Now that the IG has released potential evidence of corruption at IPRA, in particular potential corruption in the Evans case, WBEZ and other news agencies appear unwilling to look much deeper into the case.
And what about the other entities within the city that deal with allegations of corruption against the Chicago Police? What will they do if the case against Evans appears crooked? It will be interesting to see how the Chicago Police board—the civilian board that recommends the firing of officers in response to investigations against them— reacts to the Evans case. Will they start to look more skeptically at IPRA investigations? Will they call for further investigation?
Consider, for example, that the board has recently taken Lori Lightfoot on. Lightfoot was the former leader of IPRA, then called Office of Professional Standards. Will she speak out against corruption in the agency she once ran if it turns out to be true?
It will also be interesting to see how the Corporation Counsel, the city attorneys who represent police officers in civil trials, reacts to the Evans case and the other wrongful conviction scandals in which Chicago Police have been falsely accused. Will the Corporation Counsel become more aggressive in defending cops?
As it is now, Evans, who has enjoyed great support among politicians and members of the community where he has served, lives in a netherworld, waiting for his case to unfold.
It would be a terrible thing to delay dropping charges against a cop who has been through what Evans has in this case, a terrible playing of politics with a person’s career and reputation.
It also would add to a growing body of anti-police bias operating in Chicago’s media, including WBEZ. The radio station, for example, has consistently refused to cover other bombshell developments in cases based upon accusations of police misconduct, including the Anthony Porter exoneration.
More and more, it looks as if Commander Evans has joined a large community of Chicago cops who are the victim of the same bias, leaving them in a kind of legal limbo, a familiar place for any police officer in the Crooked City.
A Cook County judge released evidence to defense attorneys yesterday that could undermine a high-profile criminal case against a Chicago Police Commander.
Judge Diane Cannon released the findings by the city’s Inspector’s General office in their investigation of the agency that reviews police misconduct—the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). While Cannon has placed a “gag order” on the case, information gleaned during several hearings indicates that the Inspector General’s office has conducted an investigation into IPRA, an investigation that could reveal misconduct within the agency, including possible misconduct in connection with Evans’ case.
The evidence was brought forward by the Cook County State’s Attorney, who told the judge it contained potentially exculpatory evidence against Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans, accused of putting a pistol in the mouth of suspect, Rickey J. Williams, a gang member, during an arrest in 2014.
The state’s attorney stated they brought the evidence forward because they were obligated to do so under the Brady law, which dictates that a prosecutor “must disclose evidence or information that would prove the innocence of the defendant or would enable the defense to more effectively impeach the credibility of government witnesses.”
The prosecutor’s announcement of this evidence was a bombshell in the Evans’ case, delaying the trial until the judge could review it. Cannon’s decision to release the evidence to Evans’ attorneys may be another sign of its potential to bolster his case.
Recently, IPRA investigator, Martrice Campbell, was fired from the agency based on allegations of perjury in another, unrelated case. Campbell may also have been an investigator in the city’s investigation of Evans.
One controversial issue is the release of a state police crime lab DNA report, one stating that Williams’ DNA was on Evans’ gun. That report was released to the media, initially at public radio station WBEZ.
But Evans’ attorney, Laura Morask, has called into question claims made about the state police report, claims that the local media ran with in a kind of media frenzy. She has also criticized the manner in which the evidence was obtained from Evans, as well as the fact that it was released to public radio station WBEZ.
Morask—a former prosecutor with extensive experience in DNA evidence cases—has argued, for example, that the presence of DNA by the suspect Ricky J. Williams on Evans’ gun could have come from “multiple modes” of transfer, and is in no way conclusive that Evans placed the gun in Williams’ mouth.
Evans’ attorney has also attacked the investigation by IPRA, stating that his due process was violated by the fact that neither the prosecutor nor IPRA ever interviewed him. Further, she has argued that the release of the DNA report to the media also violated his due process, by releasing evidence while an investigation was still under way.
Morask is demanding records from WBEZ and the Independent Police Review Authority, one of several government entities that had the report. At the hearing, Morask said the records would show bias on the part of the case’s investigators.
An employee of the agency that investigates police abuse was fired last week for allegations of perjury.
Now, new allegations are surfacing that former Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) employee Matrice Campbell is also being investigated by the city’s Inspector General for misconduct in the case against Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans.
The allegations could be a devastating blow for the Cook County State’s Attorney, who has pursued a high-profile criminal case against Evans.
The state’s attorney charged Evans with battery and official misconduct in 2014 for allegedly putting a gun in a suspect’s mouth.
Media reports originally indicated that DNA evidence from the suspect, Rickey J. Williams, had been obtained from Evans’ gun.
But in a court hearing today, defense attorneys for Evans reportedly revealed that Campbell is under investigation by the city’s Inspector General for a host of other abuses in connection with Evans’ case. Attorneys in the hearing also reportedly indicated that other IPRA employees may be targeted by the Inspector General.
In today’s hearing, it was clear that defense attorneys—as well as Judge Cannon—believed that the allegations against Campbell in both cases may comprise a pattern of evidence.
The termination of Campbell and the admission by attorneys that Campbell is the subject of a wider investigation is a clear sign that the case against Evans—which generated a media frenzy—is falling apart.