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Chicago Agency Chief Denies Pressuring Investigators To Change Findings On Police Shootings

Updated Friday, July 24, to include comments from the mayor’s office and allegations from a second former Chicago investigator.

The chief administrator of the Chicago agency that looks into shootings by police denies that it has asked investigators to change their findings.

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.

As WBEZ first reported, Lorenzo Davis was terminated July 9 after a performance evaluation accused him of anti-police bias and called him “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,” as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.

Davis says the disputed cases included six shootings by officers that he had found were unjustified.

In the statement, IPRA Chief Administrator Scott M. Ando says the agency’s management has the final word on whether findings are accurate and whether they meet the burden of proof. The statement added, however, that “no one at IPRA has ever been asked to change their findings.”

“In a very small number of cases, when during the course of a supervisory review it is found that evidence has been excluded,” the statement said, “a supervisor will request that the investigator review and include all available evidence in their findings.”

That, the statement says, is what happened with Davis. “A few cases he worked on were found to be incomplete by all three levels of management above him,” the statement says. The findings “did not include all available evidence and in some cases were built on assumptions.”

Ando, promoted last year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to head the agency, so far has not agreed to speak with WBEZ about Davis’s termination, the shootings or the agency’s process for arriving at its findings.

A written statement late Thursday from an Emanuel spokesman calls the termination an “internal matter.”

“The city does not tolerate biased investigations,” the statement said. “We have confidence in IPRA and the important role they play as an independent, civilian-led review agency.”

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.

“We could not get the state’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,” Finnell said on MSNBC.

“For me, as a police officer, that was extremely frustrating,” said Finnell, who worked for 23 years as an Indianapolis cop, finishing there as a sergeant.

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.

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