Chicago police torturer Jon Burge

The Reader has covered the issue of CPD misconduct, particularly officer-involved shootings, for decades. If you’re new to the issue, or just need a refresher, here are a handful of stories from the archive that give context to the recent events. 

  • During his storied Reader career, John Conroy wrote 17 stories about Chicago police torture from 1990 to 2007—including detailed accounts of Jon Burge, the notorious detective and commander who used tactics such as electric shock and suffocation on African-American suspects.
  • In the 2007 feature “Killed by a Cop Car,” Tori Marlan wrote about how a squad car slammed into an 11-year old boy and eight-year old girl as they crossed Grand Avenue—killing the boy and severely injuring the girl. Yet the police department appeared to be covering up another deadly mistake.
  • “The City That Pays Out” details the countless millions that Chicago spends in police-related lawsuits, more than any other city in the country. From January 2005 through June 2008, Mick Dumke wrote, Chicago paid about $230 million in settlements and judgments—many of the cases due to police misconduct.
  • Francine Sanders, an investigator of police misconduct from 1987 to ’95, sat down with six ex-cops two years ago to talk about policing and excessive force—and to find out why some police go too far.
  • In “When Chicago Cops Shoot,” Steve Bogira looked at the data of officer-involved shootings of citizens. He found that since 1986, more than 1,600 people have been shot by Chicago police—an average of more than one person a week. In the 208 cases closed over the last two years, not a single shooting was found to be unjustified. 
  • This summer, Bogira also wrote about how, for the first time in its history, the Independent Police Review Authority recommended that a Chicago police officer involved in a shooting be separated from the force. The case involved off-duty officer Francisco Perez, who shot 16 times at the wrong car. It also found that he “provided false information regarding his actions.”