WBEZ | Criminal Justice http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Pell grants for prisoners: An old argument revisited http://www.wbez.org/news/pell-grants-prisoners-old-argument-revisited-112533 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/19407321_h38274460_slide-f233a67d0018562a34b055551e5caa2a8c778feb-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s an old and controversial question: Should federal Pell grants be used to help prisoners pay for college?</p><p>Tomorrow, at a prison in Jessup, Md., Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are expected to unveil a program to do just that. The new plan would create a limited pilot program allowing some students in prison to use Pell grants to pay for college classes.</p><p>The key word there is &quot;limited&quot; &mdash; because there&#39;s only so much the administration can do. To understand why, we have to go back to November 1993.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>The Crime Bill</strong></span></p><p>The era of Three Strikes had begun, and lawmakers in Washington were in a bipartisan race to prove they were tough on crime.</p><p>U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, introduced an amendment that would ultimately ban prisoners from receiving Pell grants. Her argument then: &quot;Because prisoners have zero income, they have been able to step to the front of the line and push law-abiding citizens out of the way,&quot; she said on the Senate floor (though Pell grants go to any and all who apply and meet the criteria).</p><p>Letting prisoners use federal dollars to pay for college, Hutchison insisted, just isn&#39;t fair. &quot;It is not fair to taxpayers. It is not fair to law-abiding citizens. It is not fair to the victims of crime.&quot;</p><p>Two decades later, Hutchison wants to be clear: She&#39;s not opposed to prison education. She just doesn&#39;t think federal Pell grants should pay for it.</p><p>&quot;I think it should be a state priority and a state initiative,&quot; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>&#39;Guys Were Having Study Groups&#39;</strong></span></p><p>Tyrone Werts says he watched lawmakers debate the crime bill on TV from his prison cell.</p><p>Werts had been convicted of second-degree murder for his role in a deadly robbery. At the age of 23, he arrived at Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania.</p><p>&quot;My reading scores was like second grade. My math skills was second, third grade,&quot; he says.</p><p>Behind bars, Werts studied. He earned his GED, then his bachelor&#39;s through a prison education program with Villanova University. It was paid for with Pell grants.</p><p>&quot;Graterford, when we had Pell grants, was actually like a college or university,&quot; he says. &quot;The arts flourished. Guys were having study groups. They were at the table, writing papers.&quot;</p><p>But Werts says that stopped when the money dried up.</p><p>After nearly 37 years in prison, Werts&#39; sentence was commuted. Now, he works for Temple University&#39;s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and helps released prisoners re-enter society.</p><p>&quot;I see a marked difference between those guys who went to college in prison and those guys who didn&#39;t go to school,&quot; he says. &quot;They think totally different.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR266.html">A 2013 study by the RAND Corp. </a>found that education behind bars greatly reduces the likelihood of a former prisoner committing another crime.</p><p>But federal law still prohibits Pell grants for prisoners. Only Congress can roll back the law.</p><p>That said, the Education Department does have one option: It can waive certain rules for <a href="https://experimentalsites.ed.gov/exp/index.html">research purposes</a> and, thus, extend Pell grants to a small number of prisoners.</p><p>Think of it as an exception to the rule &mdash; not rewriting the rule itself.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/30/427450422/pell-grants-for-prisoners-an-old-argument-revisited?ft=nprml&amp;f=427450422">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pell-grants-prisoners-old-argument-revisited-112533 Texas authorities release more jailhouse video relating to Sandra Bland case http://www.wbez.org/news/texas-authorities-release-more-jailhouse-video-relating-sandra-bland-case-112499 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap_289055858439_custom-67d2a3d4d7df15c2ff5653f490a27ed5c0fa14e6-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Officials in Waller County, Texas, have released more jailhouse video that they say dispels some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the case of Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her cell two weeks ago.</p><p>Her death was ruled a suicide by a medical examiner but her family says she was not suicidal.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Martin Kaste filed this report for our Newscast unit:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Judge Trey Duhon says his county has come under cyberattack by people who suspect Bland was killed in custody. Some say she even looks dead in her mugshot.</p><p>Judge Duhon says that&#39;s why the county is now releasing hours worth of video of Bland alive and well in jail.</p><p>&quot;&#39;We&#39;re hoping that by providing these videos that will dispel a lot of these rumors and mistruths that have been perpetuated,&#39; Duhon said. &#39;I hope that people can understand that when it comes to correct information, social media cannot be relied upon.&#39;<br />&quot;In the time-stamped videos, Bland is seen being processed, arraigned, and making phone calls. Her death is still under investigation.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>We&#39;ll leave you with Reuters&#39; three-minute edit of the video:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LUKs9iV7zRU" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/texas-authorities-release-more-jailhouse-video-relating-sandra-bland-case-112499 Chicago agency chief denies pressuring investigators to change findings on police shootings http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-agency-chief-denies-pressuring-investigators-change-findings-police-shootings-112467 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Ando3crop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated Friday, July 24, to include comments from the mayor&rsquo;s office and allegations from a second former Chicago investigator.</em></p><p>The chief administrator of the Chicago agency that looks into shootings by police denies that it has asked investigators to change their findings.</p><p>An Independent Police Review Authority official on Thursday hand-delivered a written statement challenging allegations brought by a supervising investigator the agency fired this month.</p><p>As <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city-fires-investigator-who-found-cops-fault-shootings-112423">WBEZ first reported</a>, Lorenzo Davis was terminated July 9 after a performance evaluation accused him of anti-police bias and called him &ldquo;the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS,&rdquo; as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.</p><p>Davis says the disputed cases included six shootings by officers that he had found were unjustified.</p><p>In the statement, IPRA Chief Administrator Scott M. Ando says the agency&rsquo;s management has the final word on whether findings are accurate and whether they meet the burden of proof. The statement added, however, that &ldquo;no one at IPRA has ever been asked to change their findings.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;In a very small number of cases, when during the course of a supervisory review it is found that evidence has been excluded,&rdquo; the statement said, &ldquo;a supervisor will request that the investigator review and include all available evidence in their findings.&rdquo;</p><p>That, the statement says, is what happened with Davis. &ldquo;A few cases he worked on were found to be incomplete by all three levels of management above him,&rdquo; the statement says. The findings &ldquo;did not include all available evidence and in some cases were built on assumptions.&rdquo;</p><p>Ando, promoted last year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to head the agency, so far has not agreed to speak with WBEZ about Davis&rsquo;s termination, the shootings or the agency&rsquo;s process for arriving at its findings.</p><p>A written statement late Thursday from an Emanuel spokesman calls the termination an &ldquo;internal matter.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The city does not tolerate biased investigations,&rdquo; the statement said. &ldquo;We have confidence in IPRA and the important role they play as an independent, civilian-led review agency.&rdquo;</p><p>A second former top IPRA investigator, meanwhile, made allegations about the agency late Thursday. Anthony Finnell says he left IPRA last year because officers with multiple excessive-force complaints remained on duty.</p><p>&ldquo;We could not get the state&rsquo;s attorney to file charges, we could not get the police department to discipline them, we could not even get our agency to support, at times, the findings against certain officers,&rdquo; Finnell <a href="https://twitter.com/allinwithchris/status/624392400450949120">said on MSNBC</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;For me, as a police officer, that was extremely frustrating,&rdquo; said Finnell, who worked for 23 years as an Indianapolis cop, finishing there as a sergeant.</p><p>At IPRA, he worked for 15 months as a supervising investigator. He moved last year to head an agency that investigates police wrongdoing in Oakland, California.</p></p> Thu, 23 Jul 2015 16:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-agency-chief-denies-pressuring-investigators-change-findings-police-shootings-112467 Woman who died in cell mentioned previous suicide attempt http://www.wbez.org/news/woman-who-died-cell-mentioned-previous-suicide-attempt-112455 <p><p>DALLAS &mdash; A woman whose death in a Texas jail has raised suspicions about the official conclusion that she hanged herself told a guard during the booking process that she had tried to kill herself in the past, the sheriff said Wednesday.</p><p>Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith told The Associated Press during a telephone interview that Sandra Bland told a jailer July 10 about a previous suicide attempt, while being asked a series of questions posed to each person booked into the jail. He did not provide further details about the conversation.</p><p>Asked about Smith&#39;s assertion, the attorney representing Bland&#39;s family, Cannon Lambert, said relatives have &quot;no evidence&quot; that she ever attempted suicide or had been treated for depression.</p><p>It was not immediately clear why the department hadn&#39;t previously disclosed details of conversations with Bland, or whether they were shared with other jail staff. It also wasn&#39;t clear whether Bland was on suicide watch or otherwise specially monitored during her weekend incarceration.</p><p>A second jailer also interviewed Bland, according to the sheriff. The 28-year-old black woman from Illinois said she was not depressed but was upset about her arrest, which occurred following a confrontation with a white officer who had stopped her for a minor traffic violation.</p><p>Smith says both jailers who spoke with Bland insisted that she appeared fine when being booked on a charge of assaulting a public servant.</p><p>Bland&#39;s body was found three days later in her cell. Authorities say she hanged herself using a plastic liner taken from a garbage can.</p><p>Her death comes after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody.</p><p>Smith said Wednesday that no one gained access to the cell and contributed to Bland&#39;s death.</p><p>&quot;My obligation is to run this jail and keep everyone safe,&quot; he said.</p><p>Bland&#39;s family has said she was not despondent and was looking forward to starting a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&amp;M University. Lambert said Wednesday that Bland had just bought groceries and was ecstatic about her new job when she was pulled over.</p><p>However, Bland posted a video to her Facebook page in March, saying she was suffering from &quot;a little bit of depression as well as PTSD,&quot; or post-traumatic stress disorder. At least one friend has said she was just venting after a bad day.</p><p>The sheriff discussed Bland&#39;s booking process as her family held a news conference in suburban Chicago to discuss the release of video of her arrest taken from the officer&#39;s dashcam, which shows him drawing a stun gun and threatening Bland when she refuses to follow his orders.</p><p>The roadside encounter swiftly escalated into a shouting confrontation, with the officer holding the weapon and warning Bland, &quot;I will light you up,&quot; for not getting out of her vehicle.</p><p>The video posted online Tuesday by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows the trooper stopping Bland for failing to signal a lane change. The conversation turns hostile when the officer asks Bland to put out her cigarette and she asks why she can&#39;t smoke in her own car. The trooper then orders Bland to get out of the vehicle. She refuses, and he tells her she is under arrest.</p><p>Further refusals to get out bring a threat from the trooper to drag her out. He then pulls out a stun gun and makes the threat about lighting Bland up.</p><p>When she finally steps out of the vehicle, the trooper orders her to the side of the road. There, the confrontation continues off-camera, but it is still audible.</p><p>Bland can be heard protesting her arrest, repeatedly using expletives and calling the officer a &quot;pussy.&quot; She screams that he&#39;s about to break her wrists and complains that he knocked her head into the ground.</p><p>In response to questions about gaps and overlaps in the originally posted video, authorities said the footage was not edited or manipulated. Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said glitches occurred in the recording when it was uploaded for public viewing, and the department has since uploaded it again.</p><p>Bland&#39;s death has resonated on social media, with posts questioning the official account and featuring the hashtags #JusticeForSandy and #WhatHappenedToSandyBland. Others referred to #SandySpeaks, the hashtag Bland used in monologues she posted on Facebook in which she talked about police brutality and said she had a calling from God to speak out against racism and injustice.</p><p>The trooper, who has been on the force for just over a year, has been placed on administrative leave for violating unspecified police procedures and the Department of Public Safety&#39;s courtesy policy. The agency would not address questions about whether the trooper acted appropriately by drawing his stun gun or trying to pull Bland out of the vehicle.</p></p> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 17:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/woman-who-died-cell-mentioned-previous-suicide-attempt-112455 Dashcam video of Sandra Bland's arrest released http://www.wbez.org/news/dashcam-video-sandra-blands-arrest-released-112442 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap_699543271328_custom-98226219aa1b624290c50c8e6004c26a916e5c1c-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Texas Department of Public Safety has released a 51-minute video of Sandra Bland&#39;s traffic stop and arrest, after showing it privately to several local and state officials in a Tuesday meeting. Bland was arrested earlier this month and found dead in her jail cell three days later. She was on her way to Texas from Illinois to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&amp;M University.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Martin Kaste told our Newscast Unit about the contents of that dashcam video. &quot;On the video, Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulls Bland over for failing to signal a lane-change,&quot; Kaste said. &quot;Bland is terse with the trooper, and after a few minutes, the tension between them flares up.&quot;</p><p>Kaste continues, &quot;They argue over whether he has the right to make her get out, things escalate into a shouting match, and then he pulls his taser.&quot;</p><p>At one point, state trooper Encinia yells at Bland, &quot;I will light you up.&quot; State trooper leadership has said Encinia did not follow proper procedure; he&#39;s now on desk duty. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said after viewing the video that Bland was &quot;not compliant&quot; with the officer&#39;s orders.</p><p>During the interaction, Bland refused to get out of her car and put out a cigarette. Encinia claims Bland kicked him. At the point where he says that happened, their interaction is off-camera.</p><p>Video taken by a bystander, released earlier this month, showed Bland on the ground after being detained, telling the officer she could not feel her arm and that her head had been slammed into the ground.</p><p>Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer. Three days after her arrest, Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell. Officials have said evidence indicates that Bland&#39;s death was a suicide, a hanging with a plastic bag. Bland&#39;s family disagrees and says she was trying to get out of jail.</p><p>Waller County Judge Trey Duhon and Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis met privately on Tuesday with family members of Bland, at the family attorney&#39;s request. The officials told Bland&#39;s family that during the investigation, they &quot;will leave no stone unturned.&quot; In a statement, Duhon and Mathis said it was a &quot;very positive meeting.&quot; Mathis has said he will treat the death &quot;no differently than a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/21/424909760/death-of-woman-found-hanged-in-texas-jail-cell-will-be-investigated-as-murder">murder investigation</a>.&quot;</p><p>In a press conference Tuesday, District Attorney Mathis elaborated, &quot;It has not been determined at this point that this was a murder,&quot; and said it&#39;s always been the policy of the district attorney&#39;s office to investigate suspicious deaths as potential homicides. He said a grand jury would later determine if charges are to be brought.</p><p>State Sen. Royce West had been calling for the release of Bland&#39;s arrest video for days. He was at the private meeting where officials viewed it Tuesday, and spoke during a press conference before the video&#39;s release.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Sen-West-Meets-With-Officials-on-Jail-Death-in-Waller-County-317906671.html">According to NBC-DFW</a>, West said during that press conference, &quot;We will be patient to allow the process to work itself out &mdash; but it will be transparent ... we&#39;re going to be watching every step of the way to make sure that the job will be done correctly.&quot;</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/21/425105015/dashcam-video-of-sandra-blands-arrest-released">NPR&#39;s The Two-Way</a></em></p></p> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 08:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dashcam-video-sandra-blands-arrest-released-112442 Death of woman found hanged in Texas jail cell will be investigated as murder http://www.wbez.org/news/death-woman-found-hanged-texas-jail-cell-will-be-investigated-murder-112432 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap_693517467808_custom-0131284e245064229792712e842a618790758626-s1500-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The death of a woman, who was found hanged in a Texas jail, will be investigated as a murder, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said during a press conference on Monday.</p><p>As NPR&#39;s Martin Kaste reported, this all started when an officer stopped Sandra Bland for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. The traffic stop escalated and after a struggle,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1199642/New-video-Sandra-Blands-arrest-later-died-jail.html">which was filmed</a>, Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant.</p><p>That happened on a Friday. Bland spent a weekend in jail and on Monday she was found hanged in her jail cell.</p><p>According to police, an ambulance was called to the scene on Friday, but Bland refused medical attention. On that Monday, a jailer checked on her shortly after 7 a.m.<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/us/new-details-released-in-sandra-blands-death-in-texas-jail.html?_r=0">According to The New York Times</a>, Bland allegedly told the jailer that she was &quot;fine.&quot; But when a second jailer checked on her at 9 a.m., she saw Bland hanging in her cell.</p><p>The Harris County medical examiner ruled Bland&#39;s death a suicide, but her family has been disputing that finding from the beginning.</p><p><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/21/us-usa-texas-death-idUSKCN0PV0KQ20150721">Reuters reports</a>&nbsp;that Mathis said there were &quot;too many questions that need to be resolved.&quot; The wire service adds:</p><blockquote>&quot;This is being treated like a murder investigation,&#39; Mathis said. He added that officials would examine fingerprints and run DNA tests on the plastic trash bag used in her hanging.</blockquote><blockquote>&quot;Bland&#39;s family has called for an independent autopsy and for the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation, saying the young woman had moved to Texas from Chicago to start a new job and would not have taken her own life.</blockquote><blockquote>&quot;They also told Chicago local media that Bland, a black woman, was outspoken about allegations of bias and excessive force by U.S. law enforcement in a year that saw protests across the country following the killings of unarmed black men by white officers in New York, Missouri and South Carolina.&quot;</blockquote><p><a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/sandra-bland-supporters-call-independent-investigation/story?id=32572897">ABC News reports</a>&nbsp;the case is being investigated by the Texas Rangers, but is being supervised by the FBI.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/21/424909760/death-of-woman-found-hanged-in-texas-jail-cell-will-be-investigated-as-murder">NPR&#39;s The Two Way</a></em></p></p> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 06:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/death-woman-found-hanged-texas-jail-cell-will-be-investigated-murder-112432 City fires investigator who found cops at fault in shootings http://www.wbez.org/news/city-fires-investigator-who-found-cops-fault-shootings-112423 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Lorenzo Davis 3 crop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago investigator who determined that several civilian shootings by police officers were unjustified was fired after resisting orders to reverse those findings, according to internal records of his agency obtained by WBEZ.</p><p>Scott M. Ando, chief administrator of the city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority, informed its staff in a July 9 email that the agency no longer employed supervising investigator Lorenzo Davis, 65, a former Chicago police commander. IPRA investigates police-brutality complaints and recommends any punishment.</p><p>Davis&rsquo;s termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis&rsquo;s job performance, accused him of &ldquo;a clear bias against the police&rdquo; and called him &ldquo;the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS,&rdquo; as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.</p><p>Since its 2007 creation, IPRA has investigated nearly 400 civilian shootings by police and found one to be unjustified.</p><p>WBEZ asked to interview Ando, promoted last year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to head the agency. The station also sent Ando&rsquo;s spokesman questions about sticking points between IPRA investigators and managers, about the agency&rsquo;s process for overturning investigative findings, and about the reasons the agency had reversed many of Davis&rsquo;s findings.</p><p>The spokesman said there would be no interview and sent this statement: &ldquo;This is a personnel matter that would be inappropriate to address through the media, though the allegations are baseless and without merit. IPRA is committed to conducting fair, unbiased, objective, thorough and timely investigations of allegations of police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.&rdquo;<br /><br />The performance evaluation covered 19 months and concluded that Davis &ldquo;displays a complete lack of objectivity combined with a clear bias against the police in spite of his own lengthy police career.&rdquo;</p><p>Davis served in the police department for 23 years. As a commander, he headed detective units, the department&rsquo;s Austin district and, finally, its public-housing unit. He retired from the department in 2004.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215914655&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=true&amp;show_comments=false&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 20px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">▲&nbsp;</span><strong>LISTEN: </strong><em>Lorenzo Davis told host Melba Lara in a July 22 interview that he hopes there is a federal investigation into his claims about the Independent Police Review Authority.</em><br /><br />&ldquo;I did not like the direction the police department had taken,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do. The discipline was no longer there.&rdquo;<br /><br />After leaving the department, Davis says, he kept thinking about police conduct, especially shootings. Davis, who had a law degree, says he wondered how often the officers really faced life-threatening dangers that would justify deadly force.<br /><br />&ldquo;If there are a few bad police officers who have committed some shootings that are unnecessary or bad then it erodes the public&rsquo;s confidence in all the other police officers out there,&rdquo; Davis said.<br /><br />A series of police-conduct scandals, meanwhile, led Mayor Richard M. Daley to move a unit called the Office of Professional Standards from the police department to his direct control. He renamed the unit the Independent Police Review Authority.<br /><br />IPRA hired Davis as an investigator in 2008. Two years later, around the time he completed a master&rsquo;s degree in criminal justice, IPRA promoted him to lead a team of five investigators.</p><p>Through most of his IPRA tenure, Davis&rsquo;s performance evaluations showered him with praise. They called him an &ldquo;effective leader&rdquo; and &ldquo;excellent team player.&rdquo;</p><p>The final evaluation, issued June 26, said he &ldquo;is clearly not a team player.&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis, who earned $93,024 a year in the job, says he applied at different points for higher IPRA posts, including chief administrator. He says getting passed over for them did not affect his performance.<br /><br />&ldquo;Things began to turn sour, I would say, within the last year,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;Chief Administrator Ando began to say that he wanted me to change my findings.&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis says he helped investigate more than a dozen shootings by police at the agency. He says his superiors had no objections when his team recommended exonerating officers. The objections came, he says, after each finding that a shooting was unjustified. He says there were six of those cases.<br /><br />&ldquo;They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot,&rdquo; Davis said about those officers. &ldquo;They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force.&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis says he can&rsquo;t go into detail about the cases because some are still pending and because the city considers them confidential. Emanuel&rsquo;s office did not respond to WBEZ questions about Davis&rsquo;s termination or about IPRA&rsquo;s record investigating shootings by officers.</p><p>Former IPRA Chief Administrator Ilana Rosenzweig, who hired both Ando and Davis before leaving the agency in 2013, declined to comment about the termination.<br /><br />Anthony Finnell, a former IPRA supervising investigator, says he considers Davis a mentor. He says the two would confer on cases.</p><p>&ldquo;When the investigators would bring cases to us, as supervisors, we would look, first, to see if the officer was justified in his actions,&rdquo; said Finnell, who now heads a police-oversight agency in Oakland, California.<br /><br />Finnell, who left IPRA last year, says the agency&rsquo;s investigators were better situated than its management to size up a case.</p><p>&ldquo;Many times we would look at the situation and say, &lsquo;Well, I don&rsquo;t think that reasoning makes sense or that officer is not being as truthful as I think he should be,&rsquo; &rdquo; Finnell said. &ldquo;In fact, many times we may have thought they had lied.&rdquo;<br /><br />Finnell, who worked at IPRA only 15 months, says he was never asked to change findings. If he had been, he says, he would have followed Davis&rsquo;s example.</p><p>&ldquo;As an investigator,&rdquo; Finnell said, &ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t just change findings because someone told me to.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-fires-investigator-who-found-cops-fault-shootings-112423 Texas probing death in jail of woman with Chicago ties http://www.wbez.org/news/texas-probing-death-jail-woman-chicago-ties-112408 <p><p><em>Updated July 17, 8:23 a.m.</em></p><p>DALLAS &mdash; Family and friends sought more details Thursday about the death of a black woman who authorities say hanged herself in a Texas jail after her arrest for allegedly kicking an officer following a traffic stop, saying the 28-year-old gave no indication she was in such an emotional state that she would kill herself.</p><p>However, Sandra Bland had posted a video to her Facebook page in March acknowledging she was suffering from &quot;a little bit of depression as well as PTSD,&quot; or post-traumatic stress disorder.</p><p>The Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating the circumstances surrounding Bland&#39;s death, and a prosecutor said he planned to present the state findings to a grand jury. Bland was found dead Monday morning in a Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, about 60 miles northwest of Houston.</p><p>&quot;Based on the Sandy that I knew, that&#39;s unfathomable to me,&quot; Bland&#39;s sister, Sharon Cooper, said at a news conference in Chicago.</p><p>Bland, who was from the Chicago suburb of Naperville, was moving to Texas to work at Prairie View A&amp;M University, the historically black college from which she graduated in 2009. She was arrested last Friday in Prairie View.</p><p>Her death comes amid increased national scrutiny of police after a series of high-profile cases in which blacks have been killed by officers. Social media posts have questioned the official account of her death.</p><p>Many posts have featured #SandySpeaks, which refers to the hashtag Bland had used in monologues she posted on Facebook. Among other things, she talked about police brutality and what she said was a calling from God to speak out against racism and injustice.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m here to change history,&quot; she said in one video. &quot;If we want a change we can really truly make it happen.&quot;</p><p>In one of the videos, she addresses her depression. She apologized in the brief March 1 message for not posting any videos for two weeks, saying she&#39;s been having &quot;depressed moments.&quot; She doesn&#39;t explain the cause of the PTSD.</p><p>At a news conference Thursday, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said it would be up to a grand jury to decide the importance of that video.</p><p>An attorney hired by Bland&#39;s family, Cannon Lambert, said some relatives believe Bland was killed and the family wants more information from investigators.</p><p>&quot;This family is really looking to understand what happened,&quot; Lambert said. &quot;We don&#39;t understand this. It doesn&#39;t make sense.&quot;</p><p>He did not return messages left later asking about the video in which Bland talked about being depressed.</p><p>Mathis said an autopsy found Bland died by asphyxiation and that she used a plastic bag to hang herself from a partition in her cell. He also said that although jail video didn&#39;t show what went on in Bland&#39;s cell, it showed no one went in or out of it from the time she was placed there until a jailer found her unconscious.</p><p>Sheriff Glenn Smith said jailers had used an intercom to check on Bland less than an hour before she was found dead.</p><p>The Texas Commission of Jail Standards cited the Waller County jail three years ago for improperly monitoring prisoners. The state agency found the jail was not checking all inmates at least once an hour, as required by law. It inspected the jail after a man hanged himself with a bedsheet in November 2012.</p><p>Bland&#39;s sister, Shante Needham, said Bland had called her from jail Saturday afternoon, telling her that she&#39;d been arrested, but didn&#39;t know why. She also said an officer had placed his knee in her back and she thought her arm had been broken.</p><p>&quot;She was very aggravated. She seemed to be in pain. She really felt that her arm had been fractured,&quot; Needham said, holding back tears. &quot;I told her I would work on getting her out.&quot;</p><p>The Texas Department of Public Safety said Bland &quot;became argumentative and uncooperative&quot; after a trooper stopped her for failure to signal a lane change. She was then arrested for assault on a public servant. The department said paramedics were called to the scene, but Bland refused a medical evaluation.</p><p>Department spokesman Erik Burse told the Chicago Tribune that Bland was outside the car and about to be issued a written warning when she kicked the officer. Lambert said it would have been out of character for her to kick the officer if unprovoked.</p><p>A cellphone video posted online purporting to show part of Bland&#39;s arrest shows an officer pinning a woman to the ground with one knee. At one point the woman can be heard yelling that she can&#39;t &quot;feel my arm.&quot;</p><p>&quot;You just slammed my head into the ground,&quot; she says. &quot;Do you not even care about that?&quot;</p><p>The Associated Press could not independently verify that the video is of Bland&#39;s arrest, but the images are consistent with information the family gleaned from Bland&#39;s jailhouse phone call.</p><p>Lambert and Needham said they&#39;d been working to get the money for bail when they learned of Bland&#39;s death.</p></p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 14:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/texas-probing-death-jail-woman-chicago-ties-112408 Prosecutor in 'El Chapo' Chicago case not surprised by prison escape http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutor-el-chapo-chicago-case-not-surprised-prison-escape-112374 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/elchapo_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Joaquin &ldquo;El Chapo&rdquo; Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, was arrested in Mexico in February of 2014, former federal prosecutor Andrew Porter said authorities tried to have him extradited to the U.S.</p><p>Porter was supervising the federal case filed against Guzman in Chicago and he said they wanted to get Guzman as far as possible from his stronghold of support in Mexico. Guzman had previously escaped from another Mexican prison in 2001 and it took more than a decade to rearrest him.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we would have a very high degree of confidence that Chapo Guzman would not escape from a United States institution,&rdquo; Porter said.</p><p>But Guzman was not extradited and this past weekend escaped from a high-security prison in Mexico through a mile-long tunnel. The indictment in Chicago charges Guzman with smuggling drugs into the U.S. using multiple means, including tunnels.</p><p>Porter says he was frustrated when he heard Guzman had escaped again.</p><p>&ldquo;Just real frustration that all the hard work that went into finding him, that&rsquo;s sort of down the drain and here we go again,&rdquo; said Porter.</p><p>Porter said he doesn&rsquo;t think Guzman&rsquo;s escape immediately means more drugs on the streets of Chicago, because the Sinaloa cartel continued to operate with Guzman in jail. But Porter also notes that drug leaders rise in their organizations because they&rsquo;re good at what they do.</p></p> Tue, 14 Jul 2015 08:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutor-el-chapo-chicago-case-not-surprised-prison-escape-112374 Durbin urges feds to investigate pipeline of Puerto Rican addicts to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-urges-feds-investigate-pipeline-puerto-rican-addicts-chicago-112373 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/durbin_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has <a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/271494331/Letter-from-Durbin-to-HUD-about-Puerto-Rican-drug-rehab-programs">sent a letter</a> to David Montoya, the inspector general for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, urging an investigation into some Puerto Rican drug programs with ties to Chicago.</p><p>The call follows stories from WBEZ that found that some programs <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">send</a> addicts to unlicensed treatment facilities in Chicago, and that the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/drug-addicts-sent-puerto-rico-may-be-victims-id-theft-chicago-112325">identities</a> of some addicts appear to have gotten into other people&rsquo;s hands once they arrived. Durbin sent the letter on Friday.</p><p>Specifically, Durbin has asked Montoya to look into the Bayamon Nuevo Amanecer &nbsp;and the De Vuelta a la Vida programs in Puerto Rico, both of which were found to have promised addicts access to quality treatment facilities in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;I ask that your office investigate the possible use of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding to transport people from Puerto Rico to mainland U.S. cities to receive treatment from unlicensed facilities,&rdquo; he writes.</p><p>Durbin notes in the letter that Bayamon Nuevo Amanecer received more than $880,000 from HUD&rsquo;s Emergency Solutions Grants since 2011, and that De Vuelta a la Vida has received at least $6.6 million through the department&rsquo;s Continuum of Care grant program since 2009. Under both of those programs, Durbin says grantees may only use HUD funding for rehab services from licensed facilities. WBEZ has identified numerous unlicensed services providers in Chicago that receive addicts from those programs.</p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart sent a similar <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-calls-feds-investigate-puerto-rican-agencies-send-addicts-chicago-112079">letter </a>to HUD in May, urging an investigation into the misuse of federal funds by programs in Puerto Rico.</p><p>In an email, a spokesperson for HUD&rsquo;s Office of the Inspector General said the department does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 13 Jul 2015 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-urges-feds-investigate-pipeline-puerto-rican-addicts-chicago-112373