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Report: Embattled commander No. 1 for excessive-force complaints

An analysis of excessive-force complaints against hundreds of Chicago police officers is raising more questions about a district commander who is under investigation for allegedly assaulting an arrestee.

The 49-page report, authored by a former Chicago chief epidemiologist, found that Harrison District Cmdr. Glenn Evans had at least 45 excessive-force complaints between January 1988 and December 2008. During those decades, according to the report, Evans had the highest number of complaints among 1,541 officers for whom the city provided data.

The author, Dr. Steven Whitman, compiled and studied five city datasets listing 13,527 excessive-force complaints for the officers. Whitman, who died last month, finished the analysis in 2010 for a lawsuit against one of the cops. The report, obtained by WBEZ, has remained out of public view.

G. Flint Taylor, a partner at the People’s Law Office, said the Whitman analysis showed something about Evans that he and his colleagues had long suspected. “He’s one of the worst [excessive-force] repeater cops in the history of the city of Chicago,” Taylor said. “He should be fired.”

WBEZ last week revealed an April recommendation by the city’s Independent Police Review Authority that Evans be stripped of police powers. In that case, Evans allegedly jammed his police pistol into an arrestee’s mouth and threatened to kill him. A test found that DNA evidence on the gun matched the arrestee, Rickey J. Williams, 24.

IPRA also referred the case to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office for criminal investigation.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not respond to questions about his administration’s handling of Evans in light of the Whitman report. Last week an Emanuel spokesman said the mayor would not comment on the IPRA recommendation because that investigation was ongoing.

Read all our coverage about Cmdr. Glenn Evans

A spokesman for police Supt. Garry McCarthy, questioned Monday about the Whitman report, wrote that the police department takes any allegations seriously but cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.

The McCarthy spokesman, Martin Maloney, also lauded Evans, a 28-year department veteran. “Throughout his career, Cmdr. Glenn Evans has reduced crime and violence for the communities he has served,” Maloney wrote, crediting Evans for improvements in a South Side district he commanded until March.

“Under Cmdr. Evans’ leadership, the 3rd District had 80 fewer shootings last year than in 2012, the second largest decline in the city,” Maloney wrote.

That praise sounds familiar to Taylor, who has filed lawsuits about Jon Burge, a former Chicago police commander imprisoned for lying about torture. “In the police department’s view, he was effective,” Taylor said. “At the same time, he was torturing over 100 African-American men.”

“There are many proactive cops in high-crime areas that do not rack up a fraction of the complaints that Evans and the other bad guys have,” Taylor said.

Authorities responsible for investigating the Evans complaints in the Whitman report found that two warranted disciplinary action. That gave Evans a 4.4 percent rate of complaints sustained, compared to a 3.0 percent average for all the officers in the report.

Evans has also been the subject of at least three lawsuits in which the city has paid plaintiffs to settle claims of excessive force or other misconduct.

In one of those settlements, finalized last December, the city agreed to pay $71,000 to Chicago resident Chas Byars Sr., who accused Evans of grabbing his infant son’s car seat so forcefully during an arrest that the baby fell out and hit his head on a table. Neither the city nor Evans admitted wrongdoing.

Evans did not return WBEZ calls on Monday. Reached last week about the Williams case, the commander declined to comment.

Some rank-and-file officers and community members have praised Evans as a hard-working cop and attentive commander.

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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