April 15th, 2014 at 5:10 pm
What happens when Illinois drug cops get caught lying? usually nothing. But every once in a while ajudge stands up and does something about it. That’s what happened here. And so Tribune reporter Steve Shmadeke reports as follows:
Cook County Circuit Judge Catherine Haberkorn suppressed the search and arrest, leading prosecutors to quickly dismiss the felony charges. All five officers were later stripped of their police powers and put on desk duty pending internal investigations. And the state’s attorney’s office is looking into possible criminal violations, according to spokeswoman Sally Daly.
“Obviously, this is very outrageous conduct,” a transcript of the March 31 hearing quoted the judge, a former county prosecutor, as saying. “All officers lied on the stand today. … All their testimony was a lie. So there’s strong evidence it was conspiracy to lie in this case, for everyone to come up with the same lie. … Many, many, many, many times they all lied.”
All five are veteran officers. Glenview Officer Jim Horn declined to comment Monday, while the other four — Sgt. James Padar and Officers Vince Morgan and William Pruente, all assigned to narcotics for Chicago police, and Glenview Sgt. Theresa Urbanowski — could not be reached for comment.
Legal experts in Cook County differ on how much of a problem perjury by police officers represents.
“Police officers are just like anybody — just because they’re wearing a badge and carrying a gun does not give them more credibility,” said Cook County Public Defender Abishi Cunningham Jr., a former Chicago prosecutor, defense attorney and judge. “Some officers approach it as a game of cops and robbers,” he said. “This is anything but a game.”
“I’ve heard some police officers say in a social setting, ‘If (the defendant’s) going to lie to beat the case, why can’t I lie too?'” Cunningham said.
So when it boils down to it, a law requiring the police to have a video in their squad cars seems like a good idea. Too bad Illinois legislators haven’t passed one yet.
As the story continues in the Tribune:
In the Glenview arrest in June, the Chicago narcotics officers had Sperling, a restaurant worker, under surveillance and asked for help from local police in making a traffic stop with a marked squad car, according to testimony at the hearing.
The five officers testified that Sperling was caught with up to a pound of marijuana in a black backpack lying openly on the back seat of his car after he failed to use his turn signal and was pulled over at East Lake Avenue and Tall Tree Road, a few blocks from his home.
In his testimony, Sperling admitted he had the marijuana but contended he had hidden the backpack under a seat. He also disputed that he hadn’t used his turn signal.