City of Chicago defies court order to release COPA report on Watts – NBC Chicago

On Wednesday, the city of Chicago defied a judge’s order to release an unredacted report into its investigation into the disgraced former Chicago police sergeant. Ronald Watts, again dragging his feet in the biggest scandal in Chicago police history.

Time and again, defendants have returned to court to challenge the cases against them that even prosecutors have now agreed were engineered by Sgt. Ronald Watts and his team.

More than 170 people have now had their Watts-related convictions overturned, with prosecutors saying in court in the last mass exoneration in April that “unknown participation or interference by Watts and other discredited officers in these arrests and convictions raises concerns about the integrity of these cases.”

Watts and one of his officers went to jail for shakedown and mentoring residents of the Ida B. Wells housing project for nearly a decade. But the rest of his team have never been charged and many remain with the force as the city’s investigation into the scandal drags into its fifth year.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the city’s police watchdog, released a report on the scandal more than a year ago. But the city has refused to make this report public. Last month, a Cook County judge ordered the city to release the unredacted report by August 9. This deadline is now over.

“The significance of this report is that it’s the first time the city has done anything to hold these officers accountable,” said attorney Joel Flaxman, who represents dozens of individuals Watts mentored. “And that’s why we want them to release the report, so everyone can know what their investigation found, and so they can finally take action against the officers who are still going to work every day, still collecting a paycheck, and a haven I faced no form of liability.

“There is no kind of consideration to take police accountability seriously,” he added. “We have to go to court to get the report, then once we get a court order saying release it, we don’t get it. So the city doesn’t live up to its own claims of caring about police misconduct and then, you know, thumbing its nose at judges telling them to release these reports.

Attorney Matt Topic says the city’s challenge is not an anomaly, but part of a pattern. He and Flaxman are part of the legal team that filed a motion Wednesday asking the court to hold the city in contempt of time, citing 10 other unrelated cases in recent years in which the city failed to meet deadlines imposed by the tribunal.

“This is the city of Chicago acting like the law doesn’t apply over and over again,” Topic said. “And worse, it’s not just the city. It’s the Chicago PD. It is the City of Chicago Law Enforcement Agency and the City of Chicago Legal Department that are breaking the law and not complying with court orders. What kind of example does this set for young people in this city?

How exactly can the city defy a court order?

“That’s a great question, and it’s a question they should answer so that taxpayers who pay their wages don’t routinely comply with what the law says and what the courts say,” Topic said. .

The Chicago Department of Law did not respond to multiple requests for comment on its failure to produce the unredacted report or the motion filed to hold the city in contempt.

NBC Chicago

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