Retrial Ordered in Fatal Police Shooting

Joliet fatal police shootingEarly this week, a federal judge imposed sanctions against the city of Chicago and one of its veteran attorneys for concealing evidence in a trial concerning a fatal police shooting from 2011. The attorney resigned just hours later but, along with the city, has been ordered to pay attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs that will likely total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Only then can a retrial take place, as the family of the shooting victim seeks damages from the Chicago Police Department and the city.

Overturning the Verdict

Last March, in the original trial, a federal jury found in favor of the Chicago PD officers who shot the man, concluding the shooting was justified. The officers had testified that the man had been pulled over because his vehicle matched a description that was given over their police radios of a car connected to an earlier shooting. Court records indicated, however, that the officers could not have heard the report as they claimed because it aired in a different zone. The attorney in question admitted during the trial that he had failed to turn over a recording of the dispatch the officers actually did hear. When pressed by the judge, the attorney acknowledged that he knew about the recording prior to the trial but did not really think it would be helpful to the plaintiffs.

In his ruling this week, the U.S. District Judge said that the attorney “intentionally concealed” the recording, and then attempted to mislead the court about his reasons for doing so. The ruling is the second in seven months in which the city’s Law Department has been sanctioned and retrial been ordered in a police misconduct lawsuit.

Concerning Trends

There are, of course, a growing number of people who believe that the incidents are not isolated, and, in fact, are more likely a systemic problem. “This has been a long-standing problem that is just now getting recognition,” said one attorney close to the case. “The city has been placed on notice that it has to do a better job and play fair.”

For his part, the judge recognized the difficulty inherent to discovery requests for such a large police department, but that it is all the more the reason to have better procedures. “Failing to do so,” he wrote, “will cost even more in the long run, not just in dollars.”

Legal Assistance

If you have been charged with a crime and you believe that police misconduct may have taken place, you need a lawyer who is fully committed to protecting your rights. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba. Mr. Zaremba is a former Will County prosecutor who understands how the system works and he recognizes the importance of an aggressive, comprehensive defense. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today.