Commander pleads not guilty to police-brutality charges | WBEZ
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Commander pleads not guilty to police-brutality charges

A Chicago police commander accused of jamming his gun into an arrested man’s mouth pleaded not guilty to nine counts of aggravated battery and official misconduct Wednesday.

After the arraignment, the attorney for Cmdr. Glenn Evans, 52, complained about news-media interest in the case. “I worry that Glenn might possibly not be able to get a fair trial,” the attorney, Laura J. Morask, said outside the courtroom.

Morask also accused the city’s Independent Police Review Authority of “leaking” an Illinois State Police report about a DNA test in the case.

“It built all of this pre-trial, pre-charging publicity that is outrageous,” Morask said, adding that she had no immediate plans to seek a change in venue for the trial.

The charges stem from a January 2013 incident in Grand Crossing, a South Side police district commanded by Evans at the time. Evans, according to police reports about the incident, saw a 22-year-old man named Rickey J. Williams holding a handgun.

Evans and other officers chased Williams into an abandoned building. There, according to prosecutors, the commander put the barrel of his service weapon into the man’s mouth, pressed a Taser into his groin and threatened to kill him.

A search of the area by authorities that night did not turn up the gun Williams allegedly possessed.

In April, more than 14 months after the incident, IPRA received the report about the lab test, which found Williams’ DNA on Evans’ pistol.

Based on the lab result, IPRA that month sent police Supt. Garry McCarthy a recommendation to strip Evans of police powers pending the investigation’s outcome. WBEZ revealed the case, including the DNA report and IPRA recommendation, in July.

But McCarthy, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left Evans in command of the Harrison police district until August 27, when the criminal charges were announced.

City records obtained by WBEZ through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Evans had been suspended from duty at least 11 times during his 28 years with the department. The two longest suspensions, both 15 days, resulted from excessive-force accusations.

Those accusations are among dozens of excessive-force complaints against Evans that city agencies have fielded. At least seven of the complaints have come since 2009, according to the records.

The city, meanwhile, has paid out five-figure settlements in at least six federal lawsuits accusing Evans of police brutality. Those payments and related expenses total $282,467, according to a WBEZ review of court filings and city records.

At least three other police-brutality lawsuits naming Evans as a defendant are pending. Those include a case brought this month by Williams, the man whose accusations led to the criminal charges.

Despite the news of the excessive-force complaints and lawsuits, Evans maintains support among many police officers and some residents of districts where he has worked.

About two-dozen Grand Crossing residents, mostly retirees, attended the Chicago Police Board’s monthly meeting last Thursday. Several took a turn at the microphone, praising Evans’ work ethic and attentiveness. Evans also has some support in Harrison, a district he took over as commander in March.

At the arraignment, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Freeman kicked off the case’s discovery phase by providing Morask with an armful of records.

Circuit Court Associate Judge Rosemary Grant Higgins, assigned to the case this week, set the next hearing for October 23.

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

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