City Record: Police Boss Recommended Promotion Of Lieutenant With Dozens Of Complaints | WBEZ
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City Record: Police Boss Recommended Promotion Of Lieutenant With Dozens Of Complaints

Updated on May 29, 2016 *

Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson backed the promotion of a lieutenant who had dozens of excessive-force complaints, according to a city record obtained by WBEZ. The promotion put Lt. Glenn Evans in command of one of the city’s 22 police districts.

Former Supt. Garry McCarthy promoted Evans in 2012, when Johnson was a deputy chief. The record says McCarthy believes Johnson recommended it.

Johnson was commander of Gresham, a South Side district, from 2008 to 2011. Evans was a lieutenant there.

In response to WBEZ questions about the promotion, police department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi sent this statement: “Supt. Johnson said he had no involvement in the promotional decision of Cmdr. Evans. Additionally, there is no indication in Evans’ personnel file that [Johnson] was involved in the promotional process.”

When the promotion took effect, Evans had been the subject of 114 misconduct complaints since joining the department in 1986, according to police records obtained by WBEZ. Approximately half of those complaints alleged excessive force.

Evans had also been suspended from duty at least 11 times, according to city records. The two longest suspensions, both 15 days, stemmed from excessive-force complaints.

The city had also settled at least five lawsuits alleging Evans misconduct, according to city records and court filings. The payouts to the plaintiffs totaled $153,999.

“All this coming to light just raises questions about the seriousness with which Supt. Johnson has addressed police brutality in the past and raises real questions about how he’ll do so, going forward,” said University of Chicago Law Professor Craig Futterman, who heads a police-accountability program for that school.

Some police officers and community members have praised Evans as a boots-on-the-ground supervisor who was effective against crime in some of the city’s toughest districts. Others have called him a loose cannon and poor role model for young officers.

The city’s Independent Police Review Authority is recommending that Evans be fired for an incident inside the Gresham station in 2011, when Johnson commanded that district.

Rita King, an arrested woman, was not cooperating with fingerprinting. Evans allegedly pressed his hand against her nose and face.

“He kept saying, ‘I’m going to push your nose through your brain,’ ” King told WBEZ in a 2014 interview after bringing a federal lawsuit that alleges excessive force during the incident.

A court filing by the city argues that Evans used “a reasonable degree of force” to control her.

After Evans’ promotion to commander, he was the subject of more complaints. DNA evidence from a 2013 incident led Cook County prosecutors to charge Evans with putting his service pistol into the mouth and throat of a suspect and threatening his life. A judge acquitted Evans last December.

During the criminal case, McCarthy pulled Evans from a district command post and returned him to the lieutenant rank. In February, Evans said he reported to John Escalante, the interim police superintendent, who had replaced McCarthy. The city that month listed Evans’ annual salary as $125,190.

IPRA let its investigation of King’s complaint languish for years before recommending that the police department suspend Evans for 15 days, WBEZ revealed last year. The case dragged out further as IPRA and the department sent the recommendation back and forth.

In December, during a public outcry over a fatal shooting by an officer, Mayor Rahm Emanuel replaced IPRA Chief Administrator Scott Ando with a former federal prosecutor, Sharon Fairley.

IPRA took another look at the King case and changed its recommended discipline to a termination. But Johnson, chosen by Emanuel to become police superintendent, has refused to back that recommendation.

On Thursday, Johnson said he had no plans to remove himself from the case.

“Glenn and I have been colleagues over the years but I do believe I can still be professional in determining a penalty when people are acting inappropriately,” Johnson told reporters at an unrelated news conference.

If Johnson and Fairley fail to agree on Evans’ discipline — or if they agree that it should be a suspension of more than 30 days or a termination — the case could move to the city’s Police Board.

Evans’ attorney, Kenneth Battle, did not answer requests for comment about the case.

* This report has been updated to include a statement from a police department spokesman. The headline has also been updated.

Chip Mitchell is WBEZ’s West Side reporter. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMitchell1 and @WBEZoutloud, and connect with him through Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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