Crucial evidence has surfaced in a police misconduct case nearing trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, this time – court records alleging potentially “far-reaching” implications…again.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, lawyers for Aretha Simmons, a woman who sued Chicago in 2014 over the use of excessive force in the execution of a search warrant in August 2013, claim that the city lawyers have suddenly produced thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents that reveal some officers in the case committed perjury.
The city on Friday then provided “unit files” for those officers. They reported the so-called “unit files” to be filled with the sort of information one would expect to see in a personal file. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly ordered the officers’ personnel files turned over in January of 2016 and the city now allegedly “concedes that it should have produced these files.”
The case is set to go to trial on Feb. 21 but now, Simmons’ lawyers say it is “clear that the city has routinely been producing sanitized personnel files” in response to requests for evidence and court orders.
“It appears that for many years when plaintiffs requested personnel files and courts ordered the production of the personnel files, plaintiffs were actually receiving a sham personnel file,” Simmons’ lawyers wrote in a motion Sunday.
The lawyers have asked Kennelly for sanctions though they had initially made their request last week in a heavily redacted document. Kennelly ordered that documents be made public, also moving up the hearing on the issue to Monday morning.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department, Bill McCaffrey said in a statement that, “we are not going to comment in advance of appearing in court, but the Law Department takes these issues very seriously.”
Allegedly, the new documents show that two officers named in the Simmons lawsuit – John O’Keefe and John Wrigley – were stripped of their police powers in April 2016 after being caught justifying an arrest with false claims that are similar to claims made in the Simmons case. The Bureau of Internal Affairs allegedly sought out the officers’ firings after deciding they lied under oath at a criminal trial.
Meanwhile – during their depositions – the officers allegedly lied about their discipline history as well as hid the fact that they had been stripped of their police powers.
Court records show lawyers for the officers have denied the officers committed perjury, insisting that, “it is not considered discipline when department members are given duty restrictions due to an ongoing administrative investigation.”