Cynthia Lane doesn’t have confidence that the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) will fully investigate her 19-year-old son’s shooting death at the hands of Chicago police.
Her son, Roshad McIntosh, was shot dead by officers in August 2014 in North Lawndale. The officers had responded to a call about possible armed suspects in the area. According to witnesses, McIntosh was surrendering at the time police opened fire. He ran, they say, to take cover.
The case was eventually investigated by the city’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the agency that reviews police misconduct complaints and examines officer-involved shootings (OIS).
In March, McIntosh’s family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the unnamed officers who shot him and allegedly conspired to cover up the details of his death.
But recent revelations that an IPRA investigator was allegedly fired for refusing to change rulings in six (OIS) from ‘unjustified’ to ‘justified’ has McIntosh’s mother questioning the police all over again. She wonders whether her son’s case is among the rulings now disputed.
“That really makes me curious [about] what’s really going on,” Lane said. “I always had it in my heart that the police lie and get away with murder, [but] I want answers. I want to know what did their investigation come up with — now knowing that they lie for police officers that shoot and kill young black men for no reason.”
This month, former IPRA supervising investigator Lorenzo Davis made waves when he announced that he was recently fired for refusing to change the six OIS rulings at the behest of IPRA officials. Davis, a former Chicago police commander who has worked with the department for 23 years, was terminated after a job performance review cited that he had “a clear bias against the police,” according to WBEZ.
The review, WBEZ also noted, referred to Davis as “the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS.”
Now the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) wants the U.S. Department of Justice to look into Davis’s claim. They are also calling for the city council to back a proposal to create an elected civilian police accountability council (CPAC) to replace IRPA and the Chicago Police Board, which CAARPR said was “rubber-stamped” by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The group made their demands during a protest and press conference outside IPRA’s West Town headquarters, 1615 W. Chicago Ave., on July 23.
“Our campaign for an elected civilian police accountability council exists because the Independent Police Review Authority and the police board … are part of a farce designed to fail,” said Lacreshia Birts, CAARPR member. “The firing of Lorenzo Davis … is yet another example of how IPRA continues to cover up crimes by officers of the Chicago Police Department.”
Davis’ revelations prove the IPRA is skewered to favor the police, according to Ted Pearson, CAARPR’s co-chair. He noted, the way IPRA and the police board are set up, by law, limits their authority to do anything except make recommendations that are then referred to the police department.
“I think the firing of Lorenzo Davis exposes the system,” he said. “Even in [the] context of that broken system, Mr. Davis tried to do something … to point out that shootings were unjustified and he was fired for that … and that’s fundamentally wrong.”
The call to have a civilian police accountability council will provide the transparency sorely lacking in both the police board and IPRA, Pearson said. CPAC will have the power to investigate allegations of police misconduct and police shootings, refer cases to the U.S. attorney and the federal grand jury for civil rights violations and fire police officers. CPAC will also have the power to appoint the city’s police superintendent. The proposed legislation has not been introduced to the City Council.
The group wants strong community support before presenting the legislation to aldermen. In order to bring clarity and attention to the proposal, they’ve planned a noon march and rally on Aug. 29 outside City Hall and the federal building.
“We don’t want to introduce the [legislation] prematurely [and have it] get referred to a committee and die,” Pearson said. “We want to make sure it has the support of thousands of people before it gets introduced ….”
“The community needs to take charge of the police because they are clearly out of control and we don’t expect them to correct themselves,” Birts added.
For its part, IPRA denied Davis’s allegation through a statement issued to reporters at the July 23 press conference.
“No one at IPRA has ever been asked to change their findings,” noted Scott Ando, IPRA’s chief administrator, in the statement. “However, in a very small number of cases when […] it is found that evidence has been excluded for a summary finding or analysis, a supervisor will request that an investigator review and include all available evidence in their findings.”
IPRA also pointed out that a few of the cases Davis worked on were found to be “incomplete” and “did not include all available evidence.”
When asked why his group chose to sidestep the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office so that the justice department could investigate Davis’s claim, CAARPR said they lack confidence in the state’s attorney. They cited the city’s history in dealing with police torture allegations and other incidents of police brutality. The group also pointed to the office’s mishandling of the Rekia Boyd’s case.
Boyd, 22, was shot in the head by off-duty police officer Dante Servin after he got into an argument with a group of bystanders. Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct in the shooting – all of which were thrown out.
“The Cook County State’s Attorney [has] brought one police officer to trial in the last 20 years for a police murder and they mischarged that officer and the judge threw the case out,” Pearson said.
The symbiotic relationship between the police and the state’s attorney’s office make it hard for that office to investigate police crimes, he added. There have been 400 police involved shootings since the creation of IPRA in 2007, with only one ruled unjustified. So far this year, there has been eight OIS — one fatal.
“The Cook County state’s attorney … depends entirely on the police to do their job,” Pearson said. “If they alienate the police, they are going to have problems. Therefore, they are incentivized not to alienate the police and never charge the police.”