A recent Chicago Tribune investigation has documented more than a dozen examples in which officers within the Chicago Police Department have given false testimony, but experienced few, if any, repercussions.
As a result of this, police officers have been able to testify in court with little fear of prosecution or discipline.
The U.S. Department of Justice is currently conducting a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department, and has requested that the Cook County public defender’s office report any case with evidence that officers made false testimonies in court.
The only exception to this underlying rule is in cases where video proves testimony of a police officer to be false. In those few cases, prosecutors have acted to reprimand those officers.
This leads us to question cases where no video is available; will officers in Chicago continue to give false testimony in court without any charges of perjury?
Steve Mills, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the Chicago Tribune report that revealed the rampant lying of Chicago cops under oath, and the impact their tales is having on circumventing justice in the Windy City.
Mills told Martin the Chicago Tribune started looking into police officers’ testimony after the Laquan McDonald police shooting: “There were a lot of questions about the police reports” filed on October 20th, 2014. The reports by police were “at odds with the video that everybody saw and we wanted to look at what happens in court, and we found some problems.”
According to the Chicago Tribune reporter, there were a number of cases where judges would “throw out some evidence,” while others who found the lies told on the stand by police officers “incredible” and said so. Mills said some judges “were very pointed in their remarks and said, ‘I don’t believe this testimony — this police officer is not telling the truth.'”
When an officer’s testimony was in question, “absolutely nothing happened — the cases were not referred to the police department or the prosecutors didn’t report them to supervisors — nothing really happened.”
“In many cases, police officers didn’t even know how the judges ruled because the judges would rule later and so they weren’t in court to find out” the outcome of case. He added, “The cases just went away and there were no repercussions” to the false testimony.
Since the Tribune’s story, the State’s Attorney’s office issued “disclosure notices” on a number of cases, which “notify the defense that a police officer has had his credibility questioned.”
“There is no indication that the police department is doing anything at this point,” said Mills.
When asked if Mayor Rahm Emanuel or the new Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson commented on the scathing report, Mills said, “They haven’t said anything about this at all.”
After the McDonald shooting, the Mayor’s task force on policing “pointed out that there were questions about how police officers testified and it’s unclear whether anything will really change.”
Martin asked if the findings give credence to the people’s mistrust in Chicago.
“We heard from a lot of people after the story ran who said they had very similar experiences in court, that a police officer had come in and given testimony that was simply incredible,” he replied.
“It’s something that really tarnishes the entire criminal justice system and makes it difficult,” he added. “Judges told us widely that they all know this happens, but it’s sometimes difficult to know if a police officer is simply mistaken in his testimony, or if they’re not telling the truth, or if they’re just shading the truth.”
Watch Roland Martin, Steve Mills, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the Chicago Tribune’s investigation into officers’ falsified testimony under oath in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.