Fired Police Cmdr. Calls for U.S. Justice Dept. Probe on Demands to Fix Police Abuse Reports

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By Chinta Strausberg

Allegedly fired for refusing to change the conclusion of his police brutality cases that did not support officers, former Cmdr. Lorenzo Davis Wednesday said he is calling for a U.S. Justice Department probe of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) which out of 400 police shootings only one officer was found guilty.

“I believe it is a crime to change reports when the evidence points to wrongdoing and you are told to change it to something else,” the 23-year veteran told this reporter. When Davis was ordered to change his conclusion, he said, “I told him (his superior) that would be falsifying a report and that is obstruction of justice.”

Davis said he will not be a part of a “cover up,” and believes the U.S. Justice Department is best suited to investigate the IPRA rather than an internal investigation or even the city’s Inspector General who like the police superintendent is appointed by the mayor.  “The U.S. Justice Department is neutral. In Chicago almost everyone owes their job to the mayor or some politician,” said Davis including the man who fired him, Scott Ando, IPRA’s chief administrator, who could not be reached for comment at deadline.

Referring to Ando, Davis said, “He wanted me to change my report to justify the shootings and other acts of brutality (excessive force). He wanted me to justify or exonerate the police officers or find that the allegations against them were unfounded. He wanted me to say the acts did not happen or the officers used the proper acts of force.

“He told me in person,” said Davis. “He pulled out a policy, and he began to change the policy of IPRA that said everything had to come through him…that I could not investigate a shooting.” Davis said his superior allegedly told him that he could not turn in a report that stated police officers “fired their guns improperly” without Ando’s approval.
“I told him I cannot change my findings because that is what the evidence showed,” Davis said. “I refused to change my findings or conclusions; so I was fired.”

Davis said he was given a performance rating that was marginal when his last rating was excellent. When Davis wrote a rebuttal to his poor performance rating, on July 9th he said Ando called him into his office and told him, “That I was always trying to show I was more experienced, more intelligent and better than everybody else. He then said to me, ‘You’re done.” Davis said Ando had told him before that he was an “at-will” employee and that he could fire me at any time. He told me if I did not change my findings, that I would be fired.”

Davis said this is the first time he has ever been fired and feels sad leaving behind a lot of friends and especially his team. Saying he has had a lot of jobs with the city, Davis said he was never bothered about losing that job. “I was doing my best. I was trying to improve the Chicago Police Department and at the same time to make sure citizens who were victims of abuse had some redress for their grievances.”

“There are other things I can do and have other plans to stay involved in police oversight. Now, I will be working outside of the system,” Davis said.

Davis, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago where he majored in American history, took education courses at Chicago State University and graduated from the John Marshall School of Law, once taught school for more than six-years including at Dunbar. He was transferred to Hubbard High School which then was all white. “We were trailblazers to integrate the schools,” he said referring to the influx of black students.

Davis was then transferred to Roberto Clemente, an Hispanic High School and then was sent to Amundsen High School, but it was during a time when there were annual school strikes and one year the school said there wasn’t enough money to pay me. At that time, I had five kids and it was Christmas. That was the last straw.” He became a policeman in January of 1981 having passed the exam long before he became a teacher.

“I went to 1111 South State Street and asked where was my application, and an officer went to a file cabinet marked ‘returned mail.” Davis said he started working with the police department in January of 1981.

He has been a tactical officer, a detective, a sergeant, a commander of hundreds of policemen in the 15th District, taught law at the police academy, former commander of Area one (formerly called Area Central), was commander of Miscellaneous Detective Division that included cold cases, fugitive apprehension and financial crimes and was commander of public housing among other titles. He retired in 2004.

An over achiever, Davis went back to school and earned his Master’s science Criminal Justice degree at Chicago State University and in 2008, applied for an investigator position with IPRA. In 2010 he was promoted to supervising investigator but fired on July 9, 2015 for allegedly refusing to change his police abuse report in favor of accused officers.

Davis said his being fired for doing his job and refusing to change his reports that would have exonerated officers accused of  police abuse “violates my civil rights which is why I want the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the IPRA,” he told this reporter.

Contacted late last night, Larry Merritt, a spokesperson for IPRA, had this to say: “This is a personnel matter, and it would be inappropriate to address it through the media. IPRA is committed to conducting fair, unbiased, objective, thorough and timely investigations of allegations of police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.

“Chicago is fairly unique among major cities in that there is an independent civilian investigative agency, separate from the police department, which independently investigates serious allegations of police misconduct as well as officer-involved shootings, and we take our important role extremely seriously. IPRA objectively investigates a complaint, determines the facts, reaches a finding and makes a recommendation for discipline when a complaint is sustained.

“All IPRA officer-involved shooting investigations, and investigations of misconduct for which a sustained finding is recommended, are reviewed by a Supervising Investigator, a Deputy Chief and the 1st Deputy Chief before the report containing the recommendations is given to the Chief Administrator, who, pursuant to the IPRA ordinance, makes a disciplinary recommendations to the Police Superintendent. The review process includes internal discussions at all levels of review to ensure the findings reached are accurate and meet the burden of proof, which is a preponderance of the evidence,” the statement concluded.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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