CHICAGO — Glenn Evans, a former Chicago Police commander who was accused and acquitted of shoving his gun down a suspect’s throat, said his reputation was ruined due to a frame job by the agency tasked with investigating police misconduct.
In a news conference Thursday, Evans spoke publicly for the first time since filing a federal lawsuit alleging he was the victim of a civil conspiracy that led to his wrongful prosecution on criminal charges.
"I was forced to initiate legal action," Evans said. "I cannot and will not allow [the city] or anybody else to falsely and maliciously malign my character ... when I make mistakes, and I make a lot of them, in my personal and professional life, I acknowledge them ... I will stand up to fight for myself when I am wronged."
Evans’ lawsuit claims, among other things, that members of the city’s Independent Police Review Board conspired on a common goal of “ousting him from the Chicago police department” and “saving face” for the beleaguered agency often accused of bungling police misconduct investigations in the favor of accused officers.
On Thursday, his lawyer Victor Henderson said Evans was a scapegoat for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who was under tremendous public scrutiny due to delayed charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke in the Laquan McDonald case.
"You know how political Chicago is," Henderson said. "Rain is wet. Grass is green. He was charged by Anita Alvarez. These are facts."
The lawsuit, which names the City of Chicago and radio station WBEZ as defendants, alleges that an IPRA employee with a grudge against Evans was out for revenge.
“IPRA proclaims that it conducts investigations with integrity, transparency, independence and timeliness. In one fell swoop, IPRA violated all of these tenets when it investigated Commander Glenn Evans for allegedly shoving a gun down the throat of Rickey Williams, which resulted in the Commander being charged with multiple felonies,” Henderson said when the suit was filed.
The suit says IPRA investigator Matrice Campbell conspired with fellow investigator Vincent Jones to bring bogus criminal charges against Evans, and leaked confidential information about a police misconduct complaint against the former police commander to WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell.
Mitchell allegedly used that confidential information — including confirmation of a “DNA match” found on the gun Evans allegedly shoved in the mouth of a suspect — to write a series of what Evans characterizes as “misleading exposés,” according to court papers.
The lawsuit accuses Mitchell of “acting with malice” and, along with WBEZ, acting “willfully, wantonly, recklessly, maliciously, with calculations to harm Evans’ character and reputation and solely to advance Mitchell’s own career, knowing that they did not have the complete file when they published certain information about the investigation.”
When other news outlets followed up on Mitchell’s reporting, the media attention put extreme pressure on Alvarez, who was “forced” to bring felony charges against Evans in an election year, the lawsuit alleges. Mitchell is not named in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the state’s attorney did not have probable cause to believe Evans shoved a gun down Williams' throat due to IPRA’s “botched” and “incomplete” investigation.
"I have aggressively enforced the law throughout my entire career as a Chicago police officer," Evans said Thursday. "I have been perceived to be tough, but I've always strived to be fair."
In addition to Jones and Campbell, ten other IPRA employees — including chief administrator Sharon Fairley, former chief administrator Scott Ando, deputy chief administrator William Carlos Weeden, investigations coordinators Andrea Stoutenborough, supervising investigator Sherry Daun and investigators James Lukas, Anthony Finnell, Maria Olvera, Linda Franko and Sharon Hayes — were named in the lawsuit.
Evans claims IPRA employees engaged in the “malicious prosecution” of Evans that lead to criminal charges. Their actions were related to “past adversarial contact with Evans and/or to further their own careers and save face for IPRA,” the lawsuit alleges.
"IPRA has once again failed the citizens of the City of Chicago by not playing it down the middle with its investigations," Henderson said in the statement. "Shooting victims and police alike deserve a fair and honest investigation. Anything less only serves to undermine Chicago in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world. Glenn Evans has filed suit against IPRA and others for their wrongdoing as exposed during his criminal trial in December 2015."
A Cook County Judge on Dec. 14, 2015, found Evans not guilty on all charges.
Evans claims that attempts to persecute him did not stop after he was acquitted.
The lawsuit states: “Soon after he returned to work, Evans received up to 30 phone calls from his superiors pressuring him to retire.”
Evans claims he was told that Fairley, the IPRA chief administrator, would push to bring federal charges against him if he did not voluntarily retire. Top police brass also told Evans he would be fired if he didn’t retire, he alleges.
They even personally delivered retirement documents to the former police commander, according to court papers.
Evans has refused to retire. He is currently is assigned, “against his wishes,” to the police department’s “medical section.”
When he broke his silence on Thursday, his supporters chanted "bring him back!" and shared stories of him helping them when he was a West Side commander.
"As it relates to my lawsuit and career, I want to thank my coworkers in the Chicago Police Department who've suffered for their public support of me," Evans said. "I am a lifelong resident of this city. I was born and raised here, and as an aside, I lived in this district, in two different locations, as I was coming up. This isn't just police work to me. These are people. These are family, and I'm here to protect them."
Aside from the Rickey Williams case, in which he was cleared of wrongdoing, Evans had at least 38 other misconduct complaints lodged against him. WBEZ reports that the city has paid more than $324,999 to settle lawsuits brought against Evans for excessive force and misconduct over the years.
On Thursday, his lawyer denied all of the allegations against him.
"He's never planted any drugs on anybody, he's never planted any guns," Henderson said. "[He] didn't need to play dirty. And we were definitely slow and deliberate when we decided to take this case... because we have our own reputation to protect. We did our homework."
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