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Lawyers: IPRA Bungled Case of Police Cmdr. Accused of Assaulting Suspect

By Erica Demarest | December 9, 2015 2:23pm | Updated on December 9, 2015 9:40pm
 Glenn Evans is accused of sticking his gun in the man's mouth and holding a Taser to his groin.
Glenn Evans is accused of sticking his gun in the man's mouth and holding a Taser to his groin.
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DNAinfo; Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A lead investigator with the Independent Police Review Authority still hasn't interviewed Cmdr. Glenn Evans and never provided a state laboratory with Evans' DNA, the man testified Wednesday.

Evans is on trial for official misconduct and aggravated battery amid allegations he shoved his gun down a suspect's throat, held a Taser to the man's groin and threatened to kill him during a Jan. 30, 2013, altercation.

In Evans' defense, his lawyers attempted to illustrate that the investigation of the case was "grossly negligent," as Attorney Laura Morask said previously.

RELATED: I Spit Out Blood After Chicago Officer Put Gun in My Mouth, Man Testifies

During a lengthy and oftentimes scattered testimony Wednesday, lead IPRA investigator Vincent Jones described his investigation into Evans as ongoing. IPRA is tasked with handling reports of police misconduct.

Though it's been nearly three years since the suspect, then 22-year-old Rickey Williams, first contacted IPRA — and 15 months since Evans was criminally charged — Jones said he still hasn't interviewed Evans or any of the officers on the scene that Janaury 2013 afternoon.

Cook County Judge Diane Cannon, who is deciding Evans' fate in the bench trial, interrupted Jones, asking why he wouldn't interview police sooner, before they've "forgotten things."

"What if they retired? Moved to Florida? Died?" Cannon asked.

Jones testified that it's standard IPRA procedure to interview police after DNA evidence is processed, and it took a state laboratory 15 months to deliver results on the swab taken from Evans' gun. Jones also said he never provided state labs with Evans' DNA despite multiple requests.

"We didn't need to know if Cmdr. Evans' DNA was on the gun. It's his gun," Jones said Wednesday.

IPRA has fallen under intensified scrutiny in recent weeks amidst allegations of a cover-up in the Laquan McDonald case. The agency's chief administrator Scott Ando resigned earlier this week, and critics from both inside and outside the agency have said that the investigators are too biased in favor of the police.

Earlier in the day, Debra Klebacha, a forensic scientist with the Illinois State Police, testified that there were two DNA profiles on the barrel of Evans' gun. One "major" profile definitely belonged to Williams, she said, while the second "minor" profile was too minute to test.

The tests don't reveal whether Williams' DNA came from saliva or skin cells, Klebacha said. She added that state labs never tested for the presence of saliva because that "destructive" test could've ruined the chance of getting a clean DNA sample.

Though Williams' DNA was on the commander's gun, Evans' defense team has tried to paint Williams as an unreliable witness — with lead attorney Morask claiming he changes his story "like I switch purses and shoes."

Williams initially claimed Evans used his left hand to shove his gun in Williams' throat, according to court testimony. But after prosecutors earlier this year told Wiliiams the commander keeps his holster on his right hip, Williams claimed Evans used his right hand in the alleged attack.

Jones on Wednesday testified that although he received a letter asking him to investigate whether Evans is left- or right-handed, he never did.

Three Chicago Police officers who were with Evans during the alleged 2013 attack testified Wednesday that he never beat anyone up, Williams wasn't injured and Evans wasn't carrying a Taser.

Officer Sheila Jackson, who was working in district radio room, testified that Evans never checked out a Taser on the day in question. She said on Wednesday he would need her permission to do so, which contradicts an earlier statement she allegedly gave IPRA stating, "He's the commander. He can do whatever he wants."

Former IPRA investigator Matrice Campbell, who was fired six months ago, admitted Wednesday that she wrote that report 15 months after her interview with Jackson, which was not recorded.

"You waited a year and three months to type it?" Morask asked incredulously.

Evans' defense team on Tuesday slammed Campbell's role in the investigation, claiming that she once worked under Evans and was disciplined by him with a 15-day suspension. Morask argued that's a clear conflict of interest.

But on Wednesday, Campbell claimed she didn't know Evans and has never worked with him or been disciplined by him, though she did concur she formerly worked, in a civilian capacity, in the same district as Evans.

When Morask pushed, asking Campbell if she's ever seen or met Evans, Campbell replied, "Possibly. I don't know."

Campbell's bumbling and often confusing testimony lasted two hours Wednesday night. The trial will resume at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

The trial comes at a time when the Chicago Police Department is under intense national scrutiny amid allegations of cover-ups and police misconduct.

Two weeks ago, city officials released dashcam footage of a Chicago Police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014. The footage sparked protests across the city, which led, in part, to the forced resignation of Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

On Monday, the U.S. Attorney General announced her office was launching a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department, focusing on "accountability mechanisms" and the department's use of force.

That same day, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez released dashcam footage of a Chicago Police officer fatally shooting Ronald Johnson in October 2014, a week before Laquan was killed. Authorities said Johnson was armed with a 9mm gun with an extended clip, but his family rebuffs that claim and plans to sue the police department.

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