WBEZ | scared straight http://www.wbez.org/tags/scared-straight Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Police Board fires cops for conduct captured on gang video http://www.wbez.org/news/police-board-fires-cops-conduct-captured-gang-video-107131 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cop Video Capture.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Police Board has fired two officers for conduct captured on a 2011 gang video (above) discovered by WBEZ.</p><p>The board found patrol officers Susana La&nbsp;Casa, 49, and Luis Contreras, 44, guilty of numerous administrative charges and decided the fitting punishment was dismissal, according to James P. Lynch, the attorney who represented the police department in the case.</p><p>The guilty charges, Lynch said, included unlawfully restraining a youth, transporting him without a valid police purpose to the turf of a gang that would threaten him, and making a false statement about the incident to an Internal Affairs detective.</p><p>La Casa and Contreras arrived March&nbsp;19, 2011, on a Logan Square block to assist two officers who had handcuffed a gang member named Miguel &ldquo;Mikey&rdquo; Castillo. The youth ended up in the backseat of the SUV that La&nbsp;Casa and Contreras were driving. They drove him to a block of nearby Humboldt Park that a rival gang claimed as its territory.</p><p>A 90-second amateur video shot there shows La&nbsp;Casa and Contreras outside the SUV, a Chevrolet Tahoe with standard police markings. Three of the doors are open as onlookers converge, peer in on Castillo, taunt him and flash their gang&rsquo;s hand signal. As Castillo tries to cover his face, La&nbsp;Casa tells him, &ldquo;Put your fucking hand down.&rdquo;</p><p>The video appeared briefly on YouTube, where WBEZ spotted it. The department quickly stripped La&nbsp;Casa and Contreras of their police powers and began an investigation. Interim police Supt. Terry Hillard called the incident &ldquo;not professional&rdquo; and said &ldquo;scared straight&rdquo; tactics were always inappropriate.</p><p>Supt. Garry McCarthy, Hillard&rsquo;s successor,&nbsp;recommended last September that the board dismiss the officers. At the board&rsquo;s evidentiary hearing, which lasted two days in February, La&nbsp;Casa and Contreras insisted they were just trying to give the young man a ride home and he never faced danger.</p><p>La&nbsp;Casa declined to comment about the dismissal.&nbsp;Contreras and attorney William N. Fahy, who represented the officers,&nbsp;did not return calls.</p><p>Neighborhood reactions varied. Eric Hudson, a homeowner who worked with La&nbsp;Casa and Contreras against Logan Square gang activity, said the dismissal stemmed from a police department culture &ldquo;weighted to Irish male cops.&rdquo;</p><p>Hudson called La&nbsp;Casa, an Illinois-licensed clinical counselor, a hard worker who did not deserve to be branded as abusive. &ldquo;This woman is a social worker, not Jon Burge,&rdquo; Hudson said, referring to the notorious Chicago detective imprisoned in connection to police torture cases.</p><p>But Rev. Kenny Ruiz, the former head of a gang-intervention program at the McCormick Tribune YMCA, hopes the dismissal sends a message to other officers. &ldquo;Do what the side of the police car says: &lsquo;Serve and Protect.&rsquo; That means everyone,&rdquo; Ruiz said. &ldquo;They can be the conduit for something positive for the young people and the challenges that they face.&rdquo;</p><p>The board, a nine-member panel appointed by the mayor, does not usually dismiss officers recommended for that punishment. During this year&rsquo;s first three months, the board fired just three of 13 officers that either the police department or the Independent Police Review Authority had recommended for discharge. In eight of those cases, the board ruled that the fitting punishment was a suspension or reprimand. In another case, the respondent resigned. In another, the department withdrew the charges.</p><p>Under Illinois law, officers can appeal their dismissals to Cook County Circuit Court.</p><p>Castillo, who did not suffer physical harm, received $33,000 from the city as part of a settlement in a civil suit over the incident, according to an attorney representing him. The suit, filed in federal court, alleged false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress.</p><p>State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office reviewed the incident but declined to bring a criminal case.</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> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 11 May 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/police-board-fires-cops-conduct-captured-gang-video-107131 Chicago police chief wants officers caught on gang video fired http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-chief-wants-officers-caught-gang-video-fired-103905 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/police-mistreatment-video.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="396" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/21441880?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;badge=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="590"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:11px;"><a href="http://vimeo.com/21441880">An amateur video shows Chicago officers Susana La Casa and Luis Contreras after bringing a young gang member to the 1600 block of North Spaulding Avenue on March 19, 2011.</a> (<a href="http://vimeo.com/wbez">WBEZ</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.)</span></p><p><br />Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is recommending the dismissal of two city cops based on charges they unlawfully restrained a young man in the Logan Square neighborhood and let suspected gang members threaten him.</p><p>The charges, kept quiet since filed with the Chicago Police Board in September, accuse officers Susana La Casa and Luis Contreras of holding the youth, Miguel &ldquo;Mikey&rdquo; Castillo, against his will on the 3500 block of West McLean Avenue and driving him about six blocks south &ldquo;without a valid police purpose.&rdquo;</p><p>The incident took place March 19, 2011. The officers brought Castillo, a gang member, to the 1600 block of North Spaulding Avenue &mdash; the turf of a rival gang. The incident came to light when WBEZ posted a 90-second amateur video that showed the cops standing outside their marked SUV and leaving the doors open as onlookers converged on the vehicle, taunted the young man inside and flashed gang symbols.</p><p>La Casa and Contreras, according to the charges, &ldquo;allowed suspected Latin King gang members to threaten&rdquo; Castillo and brought &ldquo;discredit upon the department.&rdquo;</p><p>The officers later each &ldquo;made a false oral statement&rdquo; about the incident to an Internal Affairs detective, according to the charges.</p><p>The board, a nine-member panel,&nbsp;has the final word about the charges and the punishment. The department must show &ldquo;a preponderance of the evidence,&rdquo; a standard less rigorous&nbsp;than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt measure used in criminal courtrooms. Max Caproni, the board&rsquo;s executive director, says he expects the case&rsquo;s evidentiary hearing no sooner than January.</p><p>La Casa and Contreras, both suspended without pay, did not return WBEZ messages seeking comment about the charges.</p><p>A Fraternal Order of Police spokesman says the union has no comment about the case because the officers have chosen to defend themselves privately. That counsel could not be reached for comment.</p><p>The officers have not spoken about the incident publicly but, after WBEZ posted the video, some Logan Square homeowners rallied behind them and praised their efforts against gangs.</p><p>Castillo this summer reached a settlement in a federal civil suit he brought against the city of Chicago over the incident. The suit, which alleged false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress, will net the youth $33,000, according to the law firm representing him.</p><p>State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office reviewed the case last year but declined to bring criminal charges.</p></p> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 19:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-chief-wants-officers-caught-gang-video-fired-103905 After bringing youth to gang’s turf, cops won’t face charges http://www.wbez.org/story/after-bringing-youth-gang%E2%80%99s-turf-cops-won%E2%80%99t-face-charges-89546 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-24/witness_photo1-scaled.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office says two Chicago cops accused of unprofessional conduct will not face local charges. The office says it examined an incident involving a video that shows people on a Northwest Side street taunting a young man in the cops’ backseat.</p><p>The officers picked up the youth March 19 on a Logan Square block where a decades-old gang operates. They drove him in their marked police SUV to the turf of a rival gang.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-03-22/video-questionable-police-tactics-caught-tape-84086">90-second video</a> shot there shows the officers outside the SUV with a backdoor open as onlookers insult the young man inside and flash gang signs. After WBEZ spotted the video, the police department put the officers on desk duty and began an Internal Affairs investigation. At a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-police/chicago-police-superintendent-conduct-video-not-professional-84290">news conference</a>, interim police Supt. Terry Hillard said “scared straight” tactics were always inappropriate.</p><p>The department also asked State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/arthur-loevy/prosecutors-look-officers-shown-video-84899">review the case</a>. Now Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly says the office conducted the review but “was unable to develop sufficient evidence that would rise to the level of criminal charges.”</p><p>Police spokeswoman Sgt. Antoinette Ursitti says her department’s internal investigation is still pending. The two officers remain on desk duty.</p><p>Attorneys at the Chicago firm Loevy &amp; Loevy say they are preparing a civil suit for the young man, whom they have not named.</p><p>The officers have not spoken about the incident publicly but some <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/caps/police-video-cops%E2%80%99-supporter-speaks-out-84627">homeowners in the neighborhood</a> have rallied behind them. WBEZ is not naming the cops at this time.</p></p> Mon, 25 Jul 2011 22:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/after-bringing-youth-gang%E2%80%99s-turf-cops-won%E2%80%99t-face-charges-89546