Since the first reports of Chicago police torture
surfaced a quarter
century ago the
list has swelled to
nearly 200 cases
involving dozens of
public employees—and still no one has
been prosecuted.
Now, with the
results of a four-year,
dollar investigation
due any day, here’s
a guide by staff reporter John Conroy to the key
figures in the
Some of them
may look familiar.

John Byrne

Courtesy of the People’s Law Office

Peter Dignan

Michael Hoke

Courtesy of Chicago Tonight/WTTW


Has known Burge since childhood and admitted to
being his “right-hand man” at Area Two. Accused
of cattle prod torture and numerous attacks aimed
at genitals. Left CPD after he got his law degree but
subsequently disbarred for taking money from
clients—including police officers and firefighters—for whom he did no work, an ethical lapse he
attributes to clinical depression. He collects a
police pension and works as a private investigator.


Accused of torture, often with John Byrne. Named
in 17 of the PLO’s list of 105 cases, accused of mock
execution, electrical torture, suffocation, and beatings
with flashlights and phone books. Promoted to
lieutenant by Superintendent Terry Hillard in 1998
despite being named a “player” in an internal police
investigation of torture in 1990. Retired, pension
intact, from the force, he now works for the Cook
County sheriff. (For more on Dignan see “Shot in the Dark,” November 6, 1998.)


Burge’s partner in the early 1970s, and named as a
participant in the first publicly known use of electric
shock in 1973. Commander of Internal Affairs
when data on police personnel gathered by software
program Brainmaker—in order to identify
problem officers—was erased. Later became assistant
deputy superintendent, now retired. Granted
immunity from prosecution in Burge scandal by
special prosecutor Edward Egan.

An archive of John Conroy’s reporting on the police torture scandal is available at