Woman says she planted a gun for crooked cops
By: Suzanne Le Mignot, CBS2 Chicago: November 4th, 2009
Chicago Police are accused of offering a crooked “get out of jail free” card. The catch? A woman says she was told to plant a gun for it. Now the city has paid her $50,000 in a settlement, and the cops have been suspended without pay. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot explains.
“I felt that if I didn’t do it, they may have harassed me,” said Courtney Harris.
Harris recounts the ordeal that started on March 13, 2007. On that day, Harris’ boyfriend Wendell Philips was pulled over by cops at the corner of Washington and Pulaski.
He was driving her car and was taken into custody. Police say they had found drugs in the car.
Hours later, Harris got a call from her boyfriend. He was being held here at Area 4, at Harrison and Kedzie. During the call, Harris says an officer got on the phone.
“He told me that I would get my car back and Wendell would be released, if I was willing to help Wendell, by giving him a gun,” Harris said.
Harris said when she heard that, she thought: “Where am I supposed to get a gun from?”
Harris says a short time later, the officer, with Harris’ boyfriend on the phone, called back.
“Wendell told me where to get the gun from. We went through a list of known drug houses,” Harris said. “I planted the gun in the house by telling them I had to use the restroom, and I put the gun in the house, in the bathroom under the sink. The police then obtained a search warrant later and went in the house to get the gun.”
When Harris’ boyfriend wasn’t immediately released and she didn’t get her car back, she filed a complaint with Chicago Police and hired an attorney.
“What’s unusual about this case is that they actually made a finding of wrongdoing,” said Jon Loevy, Harris’ attorney.
Two years after taking the case, the Office of Professional Standards recommended the three officers involved in Harris’ case be fired. As of August, the officers were suspended without pay.
“Maybe they deserve credit. Maybe they are changing the way they do things. Time will tell,” Loevy said.
The investigation found false information was provided by the officers to execute a search warrant at the house where Harris planted the gun.
“Police officers are probably rewarded personally for ability to solve crimes. That’s how they advance. But I think we’d all prefer that they follow the law when they solve crimes,” Loevy said.
“I want them to be fired, and I will be satisfied when they’re fired,” Harris said.
All three officers will appear in front of the Chicago Police Board. They have trial dates in December. After the trial, the police board will decide if the officers can keep their jobs.