Suit charges city cops mistreated 3 prisoners

By: Jon Yates, Chicago Tribune: October 22nd, 2004

Three Chicago men sued the city Thursday, charging that police officers inhumanely and unlawfully held them for questioning in poorly equipped interrogation rooms, a practice they equated to torture.  

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Thomas Dunn, Denny Robinson and Leonard Kimble, but it also named “a class of others similarly situated” as other plaintiffs.

Among the accusations in the lawsuit, the men contended they were held for days at a time without having their cases reviewed by a judge and that they were not provided attorneys.

The lawsuit further contended the men were deprived of basic human needs, including food, water, bedding and access to bathrooms.

The conditions and practices have resulted in numerous false confessions to Chicago police, the lawsuit said.

“For decades, national standards have been quite clear that you don’t do it this way,” said Michael Kanovitz, an attorney representing the men. “In Chicago, it’s simply entrenched.”

Chicago police spokesman David Bayless said he had not seen the lawsuit and therefore could not comment. A spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Law, Jennifer Hoyle, also declined comment, saying she had not seen the suit.

Kanovitz said Chicago police routinely hold suspects for days on mere hunches, then justify the arrests by developing evidence while the person is in custody.

“They’re mistreating people very badly,” Kanovitz said.

Kimble, 27, went to a Chicago police station in February for questioning in a March 2003 murder, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit said Kimble had no knowledge of the killing.

Kimble was held in an interrogation room for 65 hours, during which he was given no food and was only allowed out three times — to take a lie-detector test, to appear in a lineup and once to go to the bathroom, the lawsuit said. Kimble’s attorney said he remains in jail awaiting trial for murder.

The lawsuit said Robinson, 28, was arrested in October 2000, taken to an interrogation room and chained to the wall. After three days, the suit said, Robinson was transferred to a lockup cell. During his time in the interrogation room, he was fed only a bologna sandwich each day, the lawsuit said.

Robinson’s attorney said he was later acquitted of all charges.

The final plaintiff, Dunn, spent three nights in a Police Department holding cell beginning July 29, 2003, the suit said. The lawsuit said he was not given sheets, blankets or pillows, and he was fed only bologna.


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