Updated on September 18 at 5:58 p.m.
Cook County prosecutors on Thursday unveiled an indictment of a Chicago police commander who allegedly rammed his pistol into an arrested man’s mouth. A grand jury has charged Cmdr. Glenn Evans, 52, with aggravated battery and official misconduct.
Evans did not speak during the hearing, which took place at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building and lasted about 10 minutes.
On the way out of the courthouse, about two dozen supporters tightly surrounded him to shield him from news reporters and cameras. Those supporters, including Chicago police officers, stuck with him all the way to a waiting SUV that carried him away.
Evans will plead “not guilty,” according to his attorney, Laura J. Morask. “Cmdr. Evans will not only be exonerated but vindicated,” she said. “It was a rush to judgment and I think you’ll see that.”
City records, meanwhile, show that Evans has been suspended from duty at least 11 times during his 28 years in the police department. Most of the suspensions took place during the first decade of his career, when he worked as a South Side patrol officer, according to the records, obtained by WBEZ through Freedom of Information Act requests.
The alleged infractions ranged from a missed court appearance to an off-duty “domestic altercation.” The two longest suspensions, both 15 days, stemmed from excessive-force accusations.
One of those cases began in 1990, when Evans was assigned to the Gresham police district. A South Side mother allegedly ran afoul of Jackson Park Hospital personnel when she tried to visit her daughter, who was getting treated there after a sexual assault, according to the records.
Evans helped remove the mother from the hospital. Outside the facility, he allegedly slammed her against police vehicles and delivered punches that left her with a black eye and other injuries.
Evans later characterized the mother as intoxicated and uncooperative and denied the allegations, according to the records.
The other case began in 1994, when Evans suspected a South Side man stole property from the officer’s car trunk. Evans, who was off duty, allegedly handcuffed the man, by an ankle and wrist, to a porch rail and beat him with his handgun.
The encounter left the man with a three-inch head gash and a cerebral concussion, according to the records. Evans denied using excessive force and claimed the man was resisting arrest.
Those disciplinary actions are among dozens of excessive-force complaints against Evans that city agencies have fielded since he joined the department in 1986. A report by former chief Chicago epidemiologist Dr. Steven Whitman tallied 45 filed through 2008.
Since 2009, according to the records obtained through the FOIA requests, the city has received at least seven more excessive-force complaints against Evans, lifting the total to at least 52. City investigations have concluded that nearly all were “not sustained” or “unfounded.”
But six federal lawsuits alleging Evans brutality have led to five-figure city settlements. Those payments and related expenses total $282,467, according to a WBEZ review of court filings and city records. Each settlement specifies that the defendants deny wrongdoing.
Morask, Evans’ attorney, called the complaints and settlements irrelevant to the criminal proceeding. “The only thing that’s relevant is what’s in this indictment,” she said.
“Nobody likes to be arrested,” Morask said, referring to the people who have accused Evans of using excessive force. “Complaints are just that. They are just complaints.”
At least three other police-brutality lawsuits naming Evans as a defendant are pending. In two, the defendants deny the allegations, according to city filings.
The third pending lawsuit was brought last week by Rickey J. Williams, a South Side man whose allegations led to the criminal charges, both felonies.
Evans allegedly put the barrel of his service weapon into Williams’ mouth on January 30, 2013. Evans also allegedly pressed a Taser into his crotch and threatened to kill him.
DNA evidence prompted the city’s Independent Police Review Authority to recommend in April that Evans be relieved of his police powers. WBEZ revealed the Williams case in July.
But police Supt. Garry McCarthy, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left Evans in command of the Harrison police district until August 27, when the criminal charges were announced.
After Thursday’s hearing, Morask criticized both IPRA and Alvarez’s office. She said neither has tried to interview Evans about Williams’ accusation.
“In my experience,” said Morask, who worked for years in the State’s Attorney’s Office, “something you always do before a case is charged is you ask the suspect their side of the story.”
The arraignment is scheduled for next Wednesday.