The neighborhood doesn’t have an official name. It’s the northernmost part of Rogers Park, the few blocks between Howard Street and Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, bordered on the east by Sheridan Road and on the west by the CTA’s rapid transit yard. Some people call it North of Howard, and if it ever becomes a trendy place to live some promoter is sure to shorten this to NoHo. But the area today is a long way from trendiness.
To some people it’s the Jungle, or the Juneway or the Jonquil Jungle. Most people seem to assume that this designation is somewhat racist. But a woman who lived in the area for more than 50 years explains that the name originated with a hobo camp that sprang up when a railroad was pushed through the area in the late 1800s. The hobo jungle moved on. The name lingered.
During World War II the name surfaced again. Evanston and most of the other towns on the North Shore were dry. The area around Howard and Paulina held the first legal drinking spots south of Waukegan. The North Shore railroad stopped at Howard Street, just west of Paulina. It also stopped at Fort Sheridan and at the Great Lakes naval base. The results were not surprising. During the war the area ran wide open. More than 40 bars lined the two streets. The woman remembers that the MPs and shore patrol took to keeping a few railroad cars waiting on a siding. When things got out of hand, as they often did, the unruly were loaded onto the cars for an unscheduled trip back north. She remembers that a visiting serviceman was supposed to have said he’d felt safer in the jungles of Guadalcanal than he did in the one along Howard and Paulina.
The war ended and college students replaced soldiers on the bar stools and again the name was all but forgotten.
In the late 1960s blacks started to move in. It was then, the woman says, that Archie Bunker types resurrected the old name. Nobody who loves the neighborhood calls it the Jungle, she says.
It is a small neighborhood, roughly a quarter mile by a half mile, and only a small part of Rogers Park. Yet in 1985, 25 percent of the people receiving public aid in Rogers Park lived north of Howard. The area is densely built, with almost 3,000 dwelling units. With the exception of one block of single-family homes, it is almost all apartment buildings: three-flats, six-flats, and large courtyard buildings. In 1986, 14 percent of the subsidized housing in Rogers Park was north of Howard. There isn’t much grass and not many trees. The bricks and the people are mostly dark.
The precinct was voted dry several years ago and the bars were finally closed. Paulina Street today is a run-down commercial strip with little traffic. There are a few grocery stores, a laundromat, two restaurants, a doctor’s office, and a moving and storage company warehouse. The Good News Community Church, a major influence in the neighborhood, is in a storefront on Paulina next to the Good News Educational Workshop, one of several sister organizations.
In the spring of 1986, Triangle Park opened in the northwest corner of the neighborhood, on land where a group of apartment buildings once stood. Before that, the neighborhood had had to make do with a playlot on Ashland and the yard of the Stephen F. Gale School on Jonquil Terrace. It is the school, now known as the Gale Community Academy, and the block of Jonquil in front of it, from Ashland to Marshfield, that constitute the geographic heart of the neighborhood.
There are only three buildings on this block. The school takes the entire south side of the street. On the north there are a deserted, dilapidated courtyard building and a brown brick building with a white terra-cotta archway. “Jonquil Hotel” is engraved in proud black letters inside the archway. The hotel, which today is another offshoot of the Good News Church, serves as the neighborhood’s unofficial halfway house. “We take people coming out of shelters or people that have been in homes,” says one of the managers. “We have disabled people, people with educational problems, single types, people with kids down on their luck, we have lots of kids.” Except in extreme emergencies, the tenants have to pay rent. What they get for their money usually is one room with a kitchenette. Most of them don’t stay long. “When they get more on their feet they move on,” the manager says.
There are two trees on the block and a fire department call box. The school could never be mistaken for anything else. It is a squat, three-story brick building, posted with NO BALL PLAYING ALLOWED signs, surrounded by a hurricane fence.
On September 22, 1986, Chicago police officers Jay Brunkella and Fred Hattenberger entered the school through a rear door. Brunkella, who had been through the school often, led the way.
The officers were part of an eight-man team assigned to the Rogers Park district tactical unit. There are three teams in the district, each headed by a sergeant, all under one lieutenant. The officers dress in civilian clothes and drive unmarked cars. Their primary function is aggressive crime patrol, but since the tactical unit absorbed the vice squad several years ago, they also serve as the staff of the district commander and, as such, deal with special problems within the district, especially those highly visible ones that cause a large number of citizen complaints. So if there is a series of purse snatchings or burglaries in a certain area, or complaints about minors drinking, or if prostitutes become too aggressive or drug dealers too open, the tactical teams are sent in.
That Monday was a free day; they had no special assignment. The five men on duty decided to head up to Howard Street. One officer later estimated that they spend 70 percent of their time in the area that police refer to as “the north end.”
Most of this work is drug related. The streets north of Howard are sometimes characterized as a drug supermarket. The customers, who come from all over the city and the suburbs, drive through the area looking for the dealers. Jonquil and Juneway, west of Ashland, are the most popular streets. The customers make loops through the streets. Often the dealers hide in the gangways and the alleys and if they recognize the customers they whistle them to a stop. Other times they are more aggressive and any car that comes along is a target of their sales pitch. Almost anyone who has spent time in the neighborhood has been approached to buy drugs. One day Alderman David Orr rode his bike through and was offered marijuana.
Occasionally a tactical car will be whistled down, but not often. The police know many of the dealers by sight and most of the dealers know the police. When the tactical team has an area under surveillance, from inside the school or from some other vantage point, they are often amused at how quickly the action shuts down whenever one of their unmarked cars cruises by. The dealers are well organized. They have their own lookouts in their own surveillance spots.
Most of the dealers know the legal system, many seldom carry drugs on their person, and if they do it is generally a misdemeanor amount. Often the dealers will hide their stash nearby and only go to it when they need drugs. A dealer might take an order and then go into one of the apartment buildings to fill it. The police would have no idea which apartment the drugs were coming from, or if they were coming out of a mailbox in the darkened hallway. Sometimes a dealer will take the money and then tell the customer to park in a certain location with his window down. A kid on a bike will ride by and toss the drugs through the open window.
No matter what method the dealers use, if they are arrested for misdemeanor possession most make bond and are back on the street in a couple of hours. If they are found guilty, they are apt to be sentenced to drug school. Two visits and they graduate and the conviction is dropped.
The tactical team likes to arrest the buyers too. They are more likely to be scared out of the neighborhood by an arrest, even for a misdemeanor.
“The tactical is more or less for crime prevention,” says Tony Opiola, who was a member of Brunkella and Hattenberger’s team. “It’s aggressive patrol, street stops, getting to know the bad guys, arresting the bad guys, reviewing case reports to see if it gives a name or a description or a certain area where a player might be. Sometimes you read a description and you say ‘Oh, that’s so-and-so.’ Because of your street stops you know who the players are.”
Opiola says his tactical team mainly worked the streets north of Howard and the Winthrop-Kenmore corridor south of Devon. “That’s where most of the narcotics were,” he says. “That’s where most of the crime was. Dope and crime work hand in hand.”
It sounds like such an innocent time of day: two o’clock in the afternoon, a warm Monday in early autumn. It’s the time of day, one policeman says, to be sitting in a restaurant somewhere with a cup of coffee and a doughnut. The time of day for dope dealers to be dreaming their drugged dreams, while waiting for night to fall.
But Jay Brunkella and Fred Hattenberger were not drinking coffee. They had made their way to a set of windows on the third floor of the Gale Academy, between the school gym and a stairwell leading down to Jonquil Terrace.
And Allison Jenkins wasn’t sleeping. He had moved out of the neighborhood but he couldn’t stay away.
Brunkella knew Jenkins well. He had arrested him more than once, and was scheduled to testify against him the next day on a charge of possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. Whether Hattenberger and Jenkins knew each other would later be disputed in a criminal courtroom.
Jenkins’s arrest record wasn’t much by the standards of the neighborhood. He’d been charged twice with possession, once with assault, once with disorderly conduct, and once with delivery of a controlled substance, the only felony: he’d allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover police officer. But he’d managed all that in just over a year and a half.
From the windows, the officers had a clear view of Jonquil Terrace. More than a year later Hattenberger would testify that they observed two separate actions that they assumed were drug transactions during their 15 minutes at the window. In the first, a familiar drug dealer waved over a car containing two males. Hattenberger testified that the officers observed hands in motion and assumed a drug transaction was taking place. They radioed a description of the car to a three-man arrest team that was waiting at Howard and Ashland.
Moments later, another car pulled in front of the school. This time, Hattenberger testified, Allison Jenkins approached the car and leaned inside. Once again, hand motion was observed. The car then drove east on Jonquil. Jenkins walked away carrying a potato chip bag, and as the officers watched he placed the bag under the school-yard fence. The officers decided, Hattenberger testified, that Jenkins’s stash was probably in the potato chip bag and they ran down the stairs and out the door to arrest him.
Jay Brunkella would never testify to anything again.
It was 15 minutes before the final bell when Edis Snyder, the principal of Gale, heard what she thought was an automobile backfire. She didn’t think anything of it. Someone else in the office joked, “Another shot,” and they went on with their work. A few moments later Snyder’s office door swung open and someone yelled, “Call an ambulance.” Someone had been shot on the street in front of the school. She dialed 911 and relayed the report, then she walked out the front door of the school.
Someone was lying in the street in front of the courtyard building surrounded by a small group of men. An unmarked police car stood there, its doors open. As Snyder watched, more police cars arrived at the scene. She could hear sirens in the distance. Snyder went back into the school, and after a short conference with her staff she decided to delay the final bell.
In a report written later that day, Fred Hattenberger explained the arrest of Allison Jenkins and the events leading up to it. “Above attempted to be placed under arrest for possession of narcotics when he fled and after a foot chase was trying to be apprehended when he made a sudden stop and turned at p.o. Hattenberger. A struggle ensued as subject still attempted to break free. P.o. Hattenberger and subject were falling when p.o. Hattenbergers gun discharged as they hit the ground. P.o. Brunkella was struck by the bullet. Subject placed under arrest when assisting units arrived. P.o. Brunkella was transported to St. Francis Hospital for treatment. Subject placed under arrest, advised, transported to 024th for processing.”
The arrest team had followed the first car a few blocks south of Howard Street before pulling it over. The two men were ordered out of the car and then searched. In the shirt pocket of one of the men, the officers found a Ziploc bag containing a crushed green substance that they assumed was marijuana. It was placed on the hood of the suspects’ car.
The arrest was interrupted when the report of a police officer shot at Jonquil and Marshfield came over the police radio. The arrest team didn’t bother to explain anything to the buyers. They left the Ziploc bag where it lay and jumped in their car and sped away. One of the men in the arrest team was Tom Cotter; he’d been Jay Brunkella’s partner for six and a half years. The only reason they weren’t together at the moment was that Brunkella had wanted to show Hattenberger how to enter the school unobserved from the back. The trip from Jarvis to Jonquil took less than a minute. When they arrived on the scene Hattenberger was on top of Jenkins. Jay Brunkella appeared dead. His eyes were rolled back in his head. He wasn’t moving. His face was losing color, turning gray. He didn’t appear to be breathing. Jenkins was handcuffed. Hattenberger walked over to the school fence and retrieved the potato chip bag.
In the distance, mixed with the police sirens responding to the shooting, the officers heard a siren that they assumed belonged to an ambulance. When, minutes later, a fire truck turned the corner, and the firemen explained that there were no ambulances available but that one would be dispatched as soon as possible, the policemen gathered Jay Brunkella up themselves and placed him on the backseat of the unmarked police car.
All day, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. The fire truck was one more blow. The officers radioed ahead, and Saint Francis Hospital, a few minutes away in Evanston, was waiting for them. When they arrived Jay Brunkella showed no pulse. He was resuscitated in the emergency room and rushed into surgery.
There was nothing to do but wait and pray. Like many cops, Tom Cotter had been through it before.
Ten years earlier, when he was with the Shakespeare District tactical unit, his partner, Terrence Loftus, had been shot in the head. Tom Cotter hadn’t been at the scene that time either. Loftus was on his way home from work when he attempted to break up a fight at Fullerton and Central Park. He was shot before he had a chance to unholster his gun. His last words, according to the Sun-Times, were, “Don’t worry, nobody’s going to hurt you, I’m a police officer.”
The circular driveway leading to the emergency room at Saint Francis soon filled with cars. Fred Rice, the superintendent of police, arrived, as did two deputy superintendents and the district commander. Squads from most of the districts on the north side made their way up to Evanston. Word spreads quickly when a cop is shot. Men who had worked with Jay Brunkella one place or another during his 18 years on the police force made the drive up Ridge Avenue to say a prayer, or a word to the family, or to just sit for a moment. Some of the policemen who stopped by had known Jay Brunkella since their days at Senn High School. A whole group of them had joined the force and stayed in touch through the years.
Frank Hauser had first teamed up with Brunkella at the old Area Six headquarters at Damen and Grace when they both were assigned to the task force there in 1969. They stayed partners for almost ten years before going their separate ways. Brunkella wound up in the tactical unit and Hauser in the marine unit, which patrols the lake and the river. The two men remained friends and got together almost every week. When Jay Brunkella began to tire of working the streets he took the physical required to join the marine unit. But he couldn’t swim fast enough and he missed the cut by a matter of seconds.
Hauser was out on the lake when a radio message came through to call a friend. “It’s about your partner,” the message said. After docking, he made the call and heard the bad news and then became one of the drivers heading for Saint Francis.
When Gary Brunkella, Jay’s older brother, saw the scene at the hospital, it was all he could do to keep from crying. He arrived in the backseat of a squad car after a high-speed ride with his wife Patsy. The faster the car went, the worse Gary felt. He knew they weren’t driving like this over some minor wound.
When he saw the crowd of press people outside the emergency room he was certain that things were as bad as he’d feared. The police and press vehicles had spread out of the driveway and were now double-parked along the street leading to the emergency room. The Evanston police were out there, directing traffic, making sure the street and the driveway stayed open. The TV stations were out with their vans, there were men with notebooks and tape recorders, microphones and cameras, and there were the onlookers the commotion had attracted.
Gary and Patsy were led into the hospital and up to the surgical ward. Jay’s wife Carol and their daughter Tyler and Jay’s mother Shirley were already there in the waiting room. Gary and Patsy joined them.
It had been a bad few years for the Brunkella family, who had spent a lot of their time at hospitals. Only six months earlier, Jay’s father Clifford had died after a six-month battle with lung cancer. Two years before that, Jay’s sister Hil-Dee had died after a five-year fight with breast cancer. She’d died right here in Saint Francis at the age of 32. “I figure my father was sick from the day she died,” Gary says. “Everybody loved Hil-Dee.” Especially Jay.
When the family was told that the bullet had passed through Jay’s left lung, collapsing it, the irony was obvious. Jay had finally quit smoking six months before, after his father’s death, telling friends, “The second one did it.”
There was a TV in the waiting room. At five o’clock someone switched on the evening news. A police officer quickly turned it off and told the family that he had instructions that the TV was to remain off.
If they had watched the news that evening they would have seen the children leaving Gale Academy. They had been released in two shifts, 10 and 20 minutes later than usual. When they walked out onto Jonquil Terrace the street was crowded with school buses, police vehicles, and reporters.
The family would have seen film of a police evidence technician bending down in the middle of the street to take a sample from a pool of blood.
They would have heard Fred Rice, the superintendent of police, say, “I don’t know if it’s accidental or if it’s a result of him trying to gain control of the weapon. That’s still open.”
“Has Jenkins been charged?” he was asked.
“Do you know if the officers had their weapons drawn?”
“No. The only conclusion I can reach is that Hattenberger had his weapon drawn.”
If the family had been permitted to watch TV they would have heard Area Six Violent Crimes Commander Edward Wodnicki explain that Jay and Hattenberger had tried to arrest Jenkins and that a struggle had followed. “The officer’s got his gun in the right hand, he’s got a radio in the left hand, and in the ensuing struggle they started going down. The gun accidentally discharged.”
If they had watched Channel Seven they would have seen a young black man standing on Jonquil Terrace give this description of the shooting: “One cop was right there and Jenkins was in the middle, and Jenkins dove and then that cop just shot him, just shot one of his cops.”
At Saint Francis Hospital, the family didn’t even know that it was Hattenberger’s weapon that had wounded Jay. They cursed Allison Jenkins and assumed, from what they’d heard, that he’d pulled the trigger of his own gun. When the actual circumstances of the shooting were explained to them later that night they were hurt by the deception. Today they remain bitter. “How could you guys let us walk around calling Jenkins names?” Patsy asks.
Gary admits that he would feel better today if Jenkins had, in fact, shot Jay in some old-style western gunfight. “There would have been something cleaner about that,” he says.
About Fred Hattenberger, Gary says very little. “I wouldn’t have him in my local.”
Asked to explain, Gary, a union sheet metal worker, says, “I don’t fall off the sides of buildings or drop large pieces of metal on people, because I take care.”
Gary and his mother are still bitter about Hattenberger’s role in the shooting. But they have nothing but good things to say about the other members of Jay’s tactical team. “They were there constantly,” says Gary, remembering the days at the hospital, when the tactical team kept a vigil and would do anything for Jay’s family.
Shirley Brunkella says she will never forget the kindness of a patrolwoman who was assigned to the family. “She almost told it like it was,” she says, “she almost told it straight. What a wonderful woman, wasn’t she Gary? And under her cap she had this beautiful long reddish hair and I thought, she could be the next one shot.”
But Officer Elizabeth Riordan had learned that lesson five years before, when her father, Deputy Police Superintendent James J. Riordan, was shot while trying to escort an unruly patron out of a Marina City restaurant. Superintendent Riordan became the highest-ranking Chicago police officer ever killed in the line of duty.
There was another family waiting for news. Allison Jenkins, 28, was the youngest of nine children and the father of two. He was born in British Honduras, now Belize, in Central America, but had lived in the U.S. for 11 years. The whole family had moved to the States, and his parents and most of his brothers and sisters had settled in Chicago, mainly in the Rogers Park area. Jenkins had lived north of Howard Street for a year and a half but had moved to another part of Rogers Park at the urging of his wife Rita, who didn’t like the Jonquil Terrace neighborhood. “It was a real bad neighborhood for the kids,” she says. As soon as they could afford to move they did.
On that September day she had just walked in the door of the new apartment with the two boys when the phone rang. It was a friend telling her to turn on her radio, that something had happened. She turned on the radio and heard one of the early reports of the shooting. She knew something had to be wrong. “There’s no way he would have shot anyone,” she says. “I don’t even think he knows how to click a gun, or whatever you do.” She kept the radio on, listening for more news, then switched to the TV for the evening news. She waited for Allison to call but he never did call that day. The next time she saw him was in the visitors’ room at Cook County Jail.
Jenkins’s mother, Kathleen, heard the news from her sister Esme Goff, who had been talking to Allison just minutes before the shooting and had been on Jonquil Terrace when Brunkella was shot.
“God is a just God,” Kathleen Jenkins says. “He knows Allison doesn’t deserve death. If he hadn’t ducked it would have been him. God has a purpose for his life. . . . I trust in God with all my heart. He’s not going to punish you for what you didn’t do. I have faith in that.”
That first day, as Jenkins’s family waited and watched the TV news, it appeared that Kathleen Jenkins’s faith was somewhat justified. Channel Two ended its 10 PM report on the shooting with these words on Allison Jenkins: “He’s been charged with aggravated battery and selling marijuana. But police say he does not face any charges in connection with the shooting because they have ruled that the shooting was an accident.”
Jenkins called from jail the next day. He told Rita not to worry, that he hadn’t really done anything. “It’s going to be over soon,” he reassured her.
But the TV news that evening told a different story. “Twenty-eight-year-old Allison Jenkins was aggressively fighting with police when one of the officers’ guns fired,” the report on Channel Seven began. “That information from a fresh eyewitness to yesterday’s far-north-side shooting who is now being questioned by Area Six detectives. Because of the new witness, police now say that if Officer Jay Brunkella dies, Jenkins could be charged with murder.”
Illinois law says: “A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death . . . he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than voluntary manslaughter.”
Aggravated battery is such a forcible felony. And the way courts have construed this law, someone who commits a forcible felony is responsible for any death that occurs as a consequence of it.
Kathleen Jenkins prayed for her youngest son. She also prayed for Jay Brunkella.
When Jay Brunkella was wheeled out of surgery, Shirley Brunkella says, “his face had that funny gray look.” His eyes were closed. He wasn’t moving. Doctors told the family that they had removed a portion of Jay’s lung but not the bullet, which was lodged in a muscle near the spine. He would come out of anesthesia soon, they were told, and the doctors thought he would be OK. “He could be hearing you right now, but he can’t respond,” Patsy remembers one of the doctors saying.
If Jay heard them talking he gave no sign. The night wore on but he never did come to. Later that night the doctors told the family that they thought air bubbles had entered Jay’s brain when his lung had collapsed and that this was why he was not regaining consciousness.
Carol Brunkella slept in the hospital that night while members of the tactical team kept watch over her husband.
Shirley Brunkella, and Gary and Patsy, went home for the night and returned to the hospital in the morning. They were told that they couldn’t see Jay. He’d gone into what the doctors called involuntary seizures. After a while the doctors relented and let them enter the room. “I wish they hadn’t,” Gary says now. “Everything was moving.”
It was decided to transfer Jay to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge for treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, which the doctors hoped would dissolve the air bubbles.
The family, and members of the tactical team, followed the ambulance between hospitals and were shown the chamber before the treatment began. “It was the scariest thing I ever saw in my life,” Shirley Brunkella says of the chamber. “It’s so weird, it’s eerie, like a spaceship or something out of science fiction.”
The treatment took six hours and ended with no sign of improvement. The next day they tried again. Once again, nothing changed.
After the second treatment Gary started asking questions. How long had Jay been without oxygen? he asked a doctor.
The doctor didn’t like answering but he finally did. “At least two minutes,” he said.
Did that mean there would be brain damage if Jay survived?
Once again the doctor hemmed and hawed but his answer finally seemed to be yes, there probably would be.
It was about this time that the family learned that if Jay did live he would probably be a quadriplegic. Almost everyone who knew Jay agreed that he would not want to live that way. He was a physical fitness buff and a bodybuilder and took great pride in his appearance. “I could imagine a lot of things,” says Frank Hauser, his old partner and good friend, “but I couldn’t imagine Jay living like that.”
Gary remembers sitting on the edge of Jay’s bed in Lutheran General, holding his brother’s hand. “I remember wanting him to stick his tongue back in his mouth,” Gary says. “He looked like a dead dog. I remember holding his hand and realizing, I haven’t held your hand since I walked you to school.”
“Which says something about how to treat people while they are still alive,” Patsy says. “Don’t wait until they’re dead to hold their hand.”
The two brothers had had a falling out years before. There’d been a fight, but it probably was drinking, more than anything else, that kept them apart. Gary drinks. Jay didn’t drink at all.
“Jay didn’t like to be around people that drank,” Patsy says, “because he grew up with parents that drank. Drinking frightens children.”
After Hil-Dee died in 1984, Jay’s father entered Alcoholics Anonymous. “Jay was really proud when Cliff joined AA,” Shirley Brunkella says. And Gary could see the possibility of getting close with his little brother again.
In the early evening of October 4, 1986, 11 days after he was shot, Jay Brunkella took his final breath. He was 39.
Shirley Brunkella has come to believe that her youngest son really died that September 22, a warm and sunny day on Jonquil Terrace.
He’d wanted to be a policeman since he was a kid. His mother remembers him at five or six saying that he wanted to be a detective when he grew up. There was a whole group of friends from Senn High School; several of them ended up on the police force. Jay was one of the first to join.
His first day was August 28, 1968, which is a famous day in Chicago history. This was the day of the battle of Michigan Avenue, when police and antiwar demonstrators fought it out outside the Conrad Hilton Hotel during the Democratic National Convention. Dan Walker, as chairman of a presidential commission, later would term it a “police riot.” But to many people, and to cops the world over, the Chicago police were heroes that day.
Jay was only a recruit, but all days off had been canceled during the convention. All police were working 12-hour shifts and every available hand was used.
Gary Brunkella was up in Lincoln Park with the demonstrators.
One of Jay’s first regular assignments was a foot beat around Diversey and Clark. Gary and Patsy lived a few blocks away and Jay would often walk over and knock on their door, usually with his nightstick. Gary remembers a day when Jay knocked on the door and they walked to a nearby restaurant for a cup of coffee. Gary was a long-haired hippie and Jay was a neat and clean gung-ho rookie cop, but the two were close. They’d finished their coffee and were standing on Clark Street in front of the restaurant when Gary remembered that he owed Jay two dollars. He dug into his pocket and pulled out the bills and was in the process of handing them over when he noticed another long-haired hippie looking at him with disgust. “You slime,” the look seemed to say. “How could you pay off a pig?”
At the same moment a squad car was passing on Clark Street. It slowed suddenly and the two old-timers in it did a double take, as if unable to believe what they were seeing. Their look, directed at Jay, was as bad as the hippie’s, if not worse. “You’re taking money from that dirtball?” the look appeared to say. “In broad daylight on Clark Street? Two dollars?”
The brothers roared with laughter. The rest of the world might be living in two camps that couldn’t see past long hair or police uniforms, but that was the rest of the world’s problem. Gary and Jay understood each other. They were friends.
Gary remembers one of the few times he saw his brother in action. At first he thought it was a case of police brutality. One night in 1970, Gary and Patsy were sitting on a curb along Halsted Street eating hot dogs when a squad car pulled up nearby. The next thing they knew the two cops had a teenage kid up against a car, and from where they sat it looked as if they were trying to choke him to death. Gary, who says “What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong,” handed Patsy his hot dog and ran over to complain.
“Hey, what the hell are you guys doing?” he yelled at the cops. Almost before the words were out of his mouth the answer became apparent. The kid suddenly vomited a pile of pills to the street, enough pills to kill himself, or anybody else, twice. One of the cops turned around and for the first time Gary recognized him.
“Hey, Gary,” Jay answered the question, “I’m just trying to do my job.”
If you talk to the men who worked with Jay Brunkella during his 18 years on the police force, they will tell you he always did a good one.
“He did excellent police work,” says Sergeant Tom Spanos, the head of Brunkella’s tactical team and a 25-year police veteran. “Everything he did he did just right. Whatever you told him to do, he’d say ‘OK, Sarge.’ He never grumbled. He never complained. He was always on time. But he’s a hard guy to describe because he didn’t talk about himself much. He was a family guy.”
“He was a great guy,” says Tony Opiola, who was a member of the tactical team. “There was nothing phony about him. If he didn’t like you, you knew it. He was straightforward. He probably had the best physique of anybody in the station. He was a bodybuilder, a weight lifter. He was very meticulous. He was always neat as a pin. He never had a hair out of place. It’s not that he dressed in the best clothes, it’s just that he looked good in whatever he wore. He took care of his body. He took care of himself. The guy wasn’t a complainer. You never knew if he had a bad day because he always looked the same.”
His weight lifting helped him on the street. “He didn’t come on strong because he didn’t have to,” says another member of the tactical team. “Especially in the summer, people would see Jay’s arms and that was it. They wouldn’t mess with him.”
“Jay had nothing to prove to anybody,” Frank Hauser says.
When he was on the mass transit unit back in the 70s, they could only use Brunkella as a decoy in the winter. An officer who was in the unit explains, “In the summer when people saw those arms, it’d take too long before they’d get up the nerve to approach him.” He’d be pretending to sleep or to be passed out drunk. The backup team would be crouched in some tiny broom closet, with sweat rolling down their faces and their backs growing stiffer, and the jackrollers would just walk by.
Frank Hauser transferred into mass transit with Brunkella in 1974. It was their first undercover assignment and they could pretty much dress as they wanted. “Jay wouldn’t get real funky,” Hauser remembers. He wore blue jeans and grew a goatee and that was about it as far as a disguise. But Jay was young and still had a bit of a baby face, Hauser says. He didn’t look like a policeman and had no problem riding the rails undercover.
Another officer remembers working down in the subway with Jay during the Christmas shopping season. Two teenage girls stole a wallet from a woman’s purse. They chased the girls and caught one, but the one with the wallet got away. The woman had two kids, a baby she carried in her arms and a girl about seven years old. “The girl says ‘There goes our Christmas money.’ Jay gave her ten dollars. I gave her twenty. But the thing is, that ten dollars was all the money Jay had. I still had money in my pocket. But to Jay that was like two hundred dollars. Jay was always broke. But he never bitched about anything. He never complained. It always made me feel bad.”
“Everybody complains. Don’t you? Some guy’d be sitting around bitching about his wife and I’d say to Jay don’t you ever get sick of your wife? And he’d say nah, she’s great.”
“He was a policeman’s policeman,” says a man who worked in the tactical unit with Brunkella. “What I mean by that is that he did it all. Some policemen are out there for the headlines. They’ll make four pinches a year and they’ll be real good pinches. Everybody’ll make the good pinches but some guys feel, well, I’m past the stage of making the minor pinches. They overlook a lot of things. They blow everything off. Jay never did. Whatever his job was, or whatever he stumbled upon, he always handled it in a professional manner. No matter how small it was, or how good of a pinch or how big of a pinch. There’s not many policemen like that. The guy liked coming to work.”
“He enjoyed the work,” says another officer. “The happiest he was at work was when he found a gun.”
He was part of a team at mass transit that once confiscated 43 guns in 18 working days. One of the other cops had an eye for the concealed weapon, which is an art like spotting pickpockets, and Jay picked it up somewhat and used it later. His first year with the tactical unit he and Tom Cotter recovered over 30 guns, most of them on the streets north of Howard.
“It’s very easy to burn out on the street,” Frank Hauser says. “It’s hard to keep the adrenaline going three, four times a night.” But Jay Brunkella worked high-crime assignments for most of his career. And if he was burning out nobody noticed. He came to work and he did his job and he never complained.
He was a family man, with a house, a wife, and a daughter. When the shift was over he headed home. Occasionally he would join some of the guys if they stopped for a beer after work. But Jay didn’t drink. He’d have a glass of soda water and then head home. He worked out at a gym every day. He was a car buff. Frank Hauser calls him a “neatnik,” and says you could eat off the floor of his cars, they were so clean. He liked candy and ice cream and Hauser told him he better keep working out the way he ate.
“We found each other’s weak points and we twisted,” Tom Spanos says. “We used to call Jay the fashion-plate attack. We’d roll the window in the car down and try to mess up his hair.”
He was a “super straight arrow,” one of his friends says, “but he wasn’t a saint or anything like that.”
In his 18 years on the police force Brunkella received 22 honorable mentions, five complimentary letters from citizens, two department commendations, and two unit meritorious awards.
“Hardly a day goes by when you don’t think about him,” Spanos says.
Sometimes the things a man doesn’t do define him as much as anything else. Jay Brunkella never complained, rare in any walk of life. And he didn’t drink, avoiding what to many policemen becomes almost an occupational disease.
Frank Hauser drank only slightly more than Jay, taking a glass of wine now and then. They were good friends for 16 years and the thing that always stood out to Hauser was Jay’s marriage. “Jay had a very happy marriage.” Hauser, who had never married, was a frequent visitor to the Brunkella household. For years he told friends, “I would be married today if I could have the same kind of relationship that Jay and Carol have.”
“Jay was a lucky guy,” Hauser says. “He had a good life. Unfortunately it ended much too soon.”
Allison Jenkins’s oldest sister, Cynthia, has lived in the neighborhood north of Howard since 1977. She knows it isn’t Chicago’s best area but feels it is a long way from the worst. “I don’t bother anybody,” she says. “Hopefully, they don’t bother me. Crime is everywhere you go.” She has lived in several different apartments in the small neighborhood and says one of the reasons she stays is that the apartments are generally large and the rents still fairly reasonable.
At the time of the shooting she was living in an apartment on Marshfield, just a half block north of the Gale school. It was a day later when she heard something had happened.
“Hey, I saw your brother on TV last night,” someone said at the insurance company where she was a clerk. “He shot a cop.”
Cynthia called her mother, who told her what had happened. The family already knew the worst. If Jay Brunkella died, they could charge Allison with murder.
“You know he’s not a murderer,” Cynthia says. “The family was torn apart.”
Allison Jenkins is the youngest of nine children, and Cynthia, the oldest daughter, admits that she knew her little brother sometimes sold marijuana on the streets of the neighborhood. Only three days before, Allison had stopped by her apartment and she had advised him to give it up. “Leave that thing alone,” she told him. Allison had skills as an electrician and a carpet installer and she urged him to put his energy into one of those fields.
Allison had already had problems with the police. One evening about a month earlier Cynthia was coming home from work. Allison saw her and he parked his car right behind hers, and they were walking together toward her house when two white men in a car called “Hey, you!”
“Are they talking to you?” she asked.
Allison told her that they knew his name and it wasn’t “Hey, you,” so they must be talking to someone else. They kept walking. The two plainclothes policemen got out of their car, grabbed Allison by the belt, and twisted him around and took him away. Cynthia went into her house and called Rita and told her the bad news.
Cynthia spends little time on the street. She is a single parent with two children, a boy 15 and a girl 9. She often works two jobs to get by. Currently she is working a full-time job and taking a night course to become a paralegal.
Her children both attend private schools in Evanston. Years ago she’d sent her son to Gale, but after two years she’d had enough of the public schools. “It wasn’t doing him any good,” she explains.
“I think an education is the most important thing in life,” she says. “I’ve given up a lot so my kids can have a better education. I used to buy expensive clothes but I don’t anymore. I want my son to go to college.”
The day after the shooting, Edis Snyder, the principal of Gale Academy, called an assembly of the upper grades. She wanted to reassure the students about the day before. They hadn’t been trapped in the school; the bell had been held to give the police time to finish their work. The students were never in any danger.
She also wanted to use the incident as an object lesson. “The powers are very strong out there,” she told the students. “You’ve got to stay clean and try to develop a decent life. Why let yourself in for trouble? Stay on the right side of the law. If you want to get killed, go play with drugs. This is what happens.”
Snyder, who has been a principal for ten years, and has been at Gale for four and a half years, says there is no drug problem inside the school. “I don’t have two kids a year caught smoking cigarettes in the washrooms.” Theft is rare. “If a kid uses bad language, he’s suspended. I don’t care what they do at other schools.”
But the neighborhood is right out the door, and she knows its problems. Ninety percent of the students come from the area north of Howard Street. Ninety percent are minorities, predominantly black and Mexican.
When she first arrived at the school there was no parent group at all. “It was a transient, impoverished community,” she says. “I say impoverished not so much because of the economic problems, which were and are considerable. But because they didn’t value education.”
The school became an academy four years ago and conditions have improved. Special programs were introduced, and some of the students enrolled in them are actually bused into the neighborhood to attend Gale. “I think it’s very important that the children know that students want to come here,” Snyder says.
The school offers an all-day kindergarten, plus what Snyder describes as “a good, solid, basic program, with extra science and extra music.” She says the enrollment of 900 is the highest in Gale’s history. A Lerner newspaper article pinned to the office bulletin board talks about the need for additional class space. Mary Cox, a Gale parent, is quoted as saying, “About the only place we don’t have classes meeting is in the washroom and that’s being considered.”
There are plans to expand into a building across Marshfield. There has even been hopeful talk of building a new school.
But the outside world will not go away. Several months after Jay Brunkella’s death someone else was killed outside the school. Despite happening on a weekend, this incident was actually the more traumatic one for the school. A former student and the brother of a current student were involved, and it was rumored at Gale that the killer still was free. Snyder called another assembly. She told the students that, in fact, the killer had been arrested, and she warned them one time more not to fall into life on the streets. “This is what happens,” she said–one young man dead and another in jail.
Allison Jenkins already had a lawyer. At the time of the shooting Jenkins had been awaiting trial on charges of delivery of a controlled substance, having allegedly sold three grams of cocaine to an undercover police officer the previous March. But the family was not satisfied with the original lawyer, and when Jay Brunkella died and Allison Jenkins was charged with murder, the family hired Craig Katz to defend Jenkins at both trials.
In January 1987 the cocaine case went to trial before Criminal Court Judge Joseph Urso. A jury found Jenkins guilty, and on January 20 Urso sentenced Jenkins to six years in the state penitentiary.
Katz was shocked by the sentence. “It’s ridiculous,” he says. “It’s ludicrous. It’s a first conviction for a baby amount. If we had plea-bargained it he would have gotten probation.”
There had been preliminary discussions toward a plea-bargain, but Katz held off because he thought his case was good enough to win an outright acquittal. Besides, a conviction could have been used against Jenkins by the state at the murder trial.
It was speculated that Urso punished Jenkins so severely to see to it that if he were acquitted on the murder charge he would nevertheless pay something for his involvement in Jay Brunkella’s death. “That may well have been in the back of someone’s mind,” Katz says. “I think it’s very difficult not to consider that he’s sitting there charged with murder.”
On Tuesday, September 22, 1987, one year after the day that Jay Brunkella was shot, the Chicago Police Department announced that arrest warrants had been issued for 27 drug dealers who worked the streets north of Howard. During a six-month undercover operation, police said, they had spent $12,250 to make 80 drug buys, most of them cocaine, in the “drug supermarket” where dealers “line up wall to wall like cockroaches.” Similar operations had taken place on the south and west sides, and warrants were also issued in those investigations.
Held without bond, Allison Jenkins sat in Cook County Jail for more than a year before his trial for the murder of Jay Brunkella began. He was charged with two felonies: aggravated battery and murder. The state chose not to prosecute him for possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor and the original cause of all the trouble. Once again, Joseph Urso was the presiding judge. Once again, Jenkins requested a trial by jury.
On September 28, another Monday afternoon, a little more than a year after that day on Jonquil Terrace, the jury was named. Judith Cooper, the last juror chosen, is a fiction writer; she chairs Local 12 of the National Writers Union. These credentials would have got her excused from many juries, but in this case the state had already used all but one of its peremptory challenges. The next two possible jurors were, in order, Margaret Smith, a white commodities trader, and Richard Childs, a black maintenance worker. If the state had excused Cooper, Katz, who also had one challenge left, would have excused Smith. Which would have made Childs the second black on the jury. There had been 11 blacks in the original jury panel. Judge Urso had excused four for cause. The state had used peremptory challenges to excuse five more. Andrea Grannum, a high school teacher, was the only black to reach the jury.
If Katz had excused Cooper in hopes of getting to Childs, the state probably would have accepted Smith. It was a stalemate. Smith and Childs were selected as alternates.
Katz objected to the systematic exclusion of blacks from the jury. Urso ruled that this had not taken place.
On Tuesday morning, before opening arguments began, Judith Cooper, who is Jewish, informed the court that she would like to attend religious services that Friday evening, which was Yom Kippur. The case was expected to go to the jury sometime Thursday. It was decided that this would not be a problem.
In his opening argument, Assistant State’s Attorney Dennis Dernbach told the jurors that the case was unique. He admitted that Jay Brunkella had been shot by his partner Fred Hattenberger. But he said Allison Jenkins was as legally guilty of that murder as if he had pulled the trigger himself.
He described the surveillance from Gale Academy, Brunkella and Hattenberger looking out “on the area known as the Jungle.” He told of the parade of cars that carried in people from the city and suburbs to buy drugs. He described Allison Jenkins leaning into a car, walking away with a potato chip bag in his hand, and then placing the bag under the fence. He said that Jay Brunkella and Fred Hattenberger ran down the stairs of the school and out the door to Jonquil Terrace and attempted to place Jenkins under arrest. But Jenkins ran. Hattenberger pulled his gun and ordered Jenkins to freeze, then gave chase. He caught Jenkins, who resisted, elbowing Hattenberger in the chest. They lost their balance and fell. As they were going down, the weapon discharged.
“Allison Jenkins set in motion those events which caused the death of Jay Brunkella. He is responsible for what followed–the tragic death of Jay Brunkella.”
In his response, Craig Katz called Hattenberger “one of the last true urban cowboys,” who on the day of the shooting was carrying two guns, including a Colt .45 single-action automatic pistol loaded with deadly hollow-point bullets. Katz told the jury that Hattenberger would testify that he did not mean for the gun to go off. “No one did. It was a tragic accident. The deputy superintendent of police who investigated the case called it an accident–”
“Objection,” both state’s attorneys shouted.
“Sustained,” Urso ruled. The judge admonished Katz and told the jury to disregard what they had just heard. Urso had already ruled that the supplemental report written by the deputy superintendent calling the shooting an accident was inadmissible, as were statements to the same effect made by other police officials to reporters on the day of the shooting.
Continuing his opening argument, Katz claimed that Jenkins did not strike Hattenberger in the chest or resist arrest. “This was an accident, a tragic accident. Allison Jenkins was at the wrong place at the wrong time. This police officer was ready to shoot an unarmed man for a misdemeanor marijuana bust.”
Judith Cooper says that at first, being on the jury was like a game. But when opening arguments ended and the first witness was called, it suddenly got very real.
Carol Brunkella was on the stand for only a few minutes. She testified that she had been married to Jay for 17 and a half years, that they met while in high school, and that they have a 16-year-old daughter, Tyler. She told the jury that on the day of the shooting, even before the phone rang, “I knew something had happened.”
She described going to Saint Francis Hospital and later to Lutheran General. She was sobbing when she told the jury about the events of October 4 at Lutheran General. “He stopped breathing. Thankfully, it was all over. He was gone.”
The trial took four days. But in the end it was basically Hattenberger’s word against Jenkins’s.
Hattenberger, on the stand Tuesday afternoon, testified that when he came out of the school, “Jenkins looked up and he saw me. He turned to me and he said ‘Hey man, I ain’t got shit. I ain’t got shit on me.'”
Hattenberger testified that he answered, “Hey, all I want to do is talk to you.” Jenkins began walking toward him, but then turned abruptly and ran into the street. “I yelled at him to stop,” Hattenberger testified, then gave these answers to a series of questions.
“I kept chasing him into the street.”
“I drew my gun out of my holster.”
“I yelled again for him to stop.”
“I put a bullet into the chamber of the gun.”
“I loaded the gun.”
Asked why he loaded the gun, he answered, “If you are going to use the gun, that is the only way to make it function.” He said he knew Allison Jenkins by sight and recently had heard on the street that Jenkins was armed.
When they were about 15 feet apart, “the subject abruptly stopped and turned facing me.” Hattenberger approached. Jenkins’s hand was near his waistband. “I told him to stay there and kept my eyes on his hand.” When he got close enough, he grabbed Jenkins’s right arm. “I could feel he was tense. Then he relaxed and I relaxed.” Suddenly Jenkins tensed again and elbowed him in the chest and tried to run.
Hattenberger put both arms around Jenkins, and as Jenkins continued to struggle they lost their balance and started to fall. The gun discharged.
“I landed,” Hattenberger testified. “Jay said that he was hit.”
Hattenberger radioed for help. When the arrest team arrived and handcuffed Jenkins, Hattenberger walked over to the school-yard fence and retrieved the potato chip bag. Inside he found smaller Ziploc bags containing “crushed green plant.” Hattenberger identified the bags for the jury. The next day of the trial, a police crime lab technician would testify that the bags contained 4.89 grams of marijuana. Hattenberger also identified a photograph of his chest showing a bruise that he said he received when Jenkins elbowed him.
In Jenkins’s version of events, related Thursday, two days later, Hattenberger came out of the school and “he pointed the gun at my chest and told me to run so he could shoot me.” Jenkins testified that he did not know Fred Hattenberger and at first did not realize that Hattenberger was a police officer. “I told him ‘I’m not going to run. I have no reason to run. I ain’t got nothing on me. Just put your gun away.'”
Jenkins testified that he backed up, with his hands in the air, and eventually backed into Brunkella, who grabbed him. Hattenberger then ran up and Brunkella told him, “You can put your gun away.”
But according to Jenkins, Hattenberger did not put the gun away. Instead, he grabbed Jenkins by the belt and twisted him around. “He slapped me in the back with the hand with the gun.” The weapon discharged. The three men fell to the street.
Jenkins testified that he knew Brunkella, whom he referred to by his street name, “Polish.” He said some police officers would “mess with you and harass you,” but that Brunkella was “a fair cop” who wouldn’t do that.
Hattenberger had testified that his own street name was “Joe Stone.”
Katz did not call any eyewitnesses to back up Jenkins’s testimony. There had been several people on Jonquil Terrace that day, including Esme Goff, Jenkins’s aunt, who had been talking to Jenkins minutes before the shooting and claimed that she’d witnessed it. But her statements, to the police, the state’s attorney, and Katz, were so conflicting, according to Katz, that he decided not to use her. Each statement she gave was different, Katz says. In all of them the police brutality was much worse than anything Jenkins alleged.
The state had problems with its leading eyewitness. Rico Rodriguez, a felon with convictions for burglary, armed robbery, aggravated battery, and delivery of a controlled substance, had testified before a grand jury that he’d witnessed a drug transaction between Jenkins and a man in a car outside the Gale school. He’d told the grand jury that he’d seen Jenkins flee from the police and then motion as if he were going for a gun.
During opening arguments, Dernbach had informed the jury about Rodriguez’s criminal background and told them, “You’ll have to make up your own mind whether he’s credible or not.”
On the witness stand Tuesday afternoon, Rodriguez changed his story. Now he claimed he’d simply seen Jenkins receive a potato chip bag from the man in the car, eat some of the chips, and then throw the bag away. Everything else he’d told the grand jury was a lie. He said he’d told the story because two police detectives had put a .357 magnum to his head and threatened to kill him if he didn’t.
“Hey,” he told the state’s attorneys, “I only said what you guys wanted me to say.” The guys, Dernbach and Joseph McNerney, had talked to Rodriguez only minutes before, in the lockup behind the courtroom, and he’d been a cooperative witness then.
Because of a delay in getting a rebuttal witness, the trial went longer than expected. On Friday morning, with one witness yet to testify and closing arguments still to come, Judith Cooper was called out of the jury room. How would she feel, Judge Urso asked, if deliberations went on into the evening and she ended up missing Yom Kippur services?
She didn’t know, she told the judge. She felt all eyes on her. She was suddenly self-conscious, alone in the jury box without the protection of the other jurors around her. It was as if she was on trial now. “You’re really putting me on the spot here,” she told Urso before she was led back to the jury room.
A few minutes later she was called back into the courtroom and told that she was excused. If she chose to, she would be allowed to sit with the jury through final arguments. But she would not take part in deliberations.
It had never occurred to Cooper that they were considering excusing her. She had thought that they might delay deliberations. When she actually thought about her religious duty, the trial seemed more important. If she had spoken up right then, the court probably would have kept her on the jury. But she didn’t know she could say anything, and she didn’t. Margaret Smith replaced her.
“You’d think that if you grew up on Perry Mason, you’d know all this stuff,” Cooper says. “But the truth of the matter is, the legal system is a mystery to most people.” The jurors, she says, “never really knew what was happening. You’re locked in that little room. You don’t know what you can or can’t do.”
Trials are punctuated by whispered sidebar conferences between the lawyers and the judge. The whispers are so the jury won’t hear. When things start to look interesting objections are suddenly made, and the jury is led back to the windowless room it calls home. Cooper had found a table and chairs, a water fountain, and two washrooms.
Cooper was not very impressed by her fellow jurors. She describes most of them as “very conservative. They seemed to have no concept of how other people lived.” They had been instructed not to discuss the case, but from some of the offhand comments that she heard, Cooper was afraid the jury would find Allison Jenkins guilty as charged. She was convinced of his innocence.
For Cooper, the case came down to Hattenberger’s word against Jenkins’s. She believed Jenkins.
On the stand, Hattenberger had testified that Jenkins tensed, relaxed, then tensed again while in his grasp. Cooper weighed that against Jenkins’s testimony that Hattenberger grabbed him by the belt and twisted him around. “It was very humiliating, the way he described it,” she says. “I’m a writer, and to me this was a very telling detail.”
She thought it was very important for Hattenberger not to be found at fault in a fellow officer’s death. She thought he was a man under a lot of stress. “He looked like a walking time bomb,” she says.
In his closing argument, Dennis Dernbach told the jury that if they believed Jenkins committed battery on a police officer performing his duty, that battery was an aggravated battery and therefore a felony, and a verdict of guilty on the charge of felony murder should follow.
Dernbach showed the jury a map of the crime scene–Jonquil Terrace, the school yard. Dernbach went back over the two clashing versions of the events: Hattenberger saying Jenkins ran, Jenkins saying he backed up. “Which is more believable, his backing up 60 to 80 feet in seconds or his running?”
“Do not tell the criminals, the drug dealers, that it’s all right to run, that it is all right to resist,” Dernbach told the jury.
Craig Katz in his closing argument told the jury, “This is not about a drug deal, make no mistake about it. The drug transaction, if there was one, had nothing to do with what happened.”
“What would be the point of trying to escape by striking a police officer?” he asked. They knew who Jenkins was and they would catch him sooner or later. Why should he run?
“I don’t think the state has come anywhere near proving their burden that a battery or an aggravated battery took place,” Katz told the jury. “And if you don’t believe that, you can’t find Allison Jenkins guilty of murder.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph McNerney had the final word. He repeatedly called Jenkins a liar. “He was out on bond and he didn’t want to get caught while on bond. He ran. He wanted to distance himself from those drugs.” About Jenkins’s contention that he did not know Fred Hattenberger was a police officer, McNerney said, “This guy can spot a plainclothes police officer a mile away.”
Rico Rodriguez was another liar, according to McNerney. He and Jenkins had recently spent a month on the same tier at Cook County Jail. It was there that they struck an agreement for Rodriguez to change his testimony. “He’s little more than a liar,” McNerney said of Rodriguez. “He’s spent most of his own life in the penitentiary.”
Judge Urso then instructed the jury to accept only Rodriguez’s grand jury testimony.
After jury instructions, Judith Cooper and Richard Childs were allowed to go ahead first into the empty jury room to collect their belongings. Cooper says that she wanted to tell Margaret Smith, her replacement, “Be strong,” but there was no opportunity, and besides, they’d been ordered not to say anything to the jurors.
Out in the hallway, the lawyers and the reporters were waiting. When questioned, Cooper and Childs both said they would have found Jenkins not guilty. To Assistant State’s Attorney Dennis Dernbach this was not necessarily a bad sign. It was not unusual for alternates to disagree with the eventual verdict. “They are not a good guide,” Dernbach says.
From the reporters and from defense attorney Craig Katz, the two alternates heard some of the information that had been withheld from the jury. They learned that Hattenberger had once before accidentally shot a fellow officer. The incident had happened 12 years earlier and the wounded officer was said to have suffered only minor injuries. Judge Urso had refused to allow Katz to question Hattenberger about the incident.
They also heard that Brunkella’s widow, Carol, had recently filed a civil suit against the Chicago Police Department, seeking an unspecified amount of damages. The suit charged that the department was negligent in letting Hattenberger, who was not named in the suit, carry a Colt .45 single-action revolver, sometimes called a semiautomatic, which Carol Brunkella’s attorney, Thomas J. Nathan, told the Tribune is known to have a sensitive trigger and to be prone to accidental discharge. Urso had ruled this information inadmissible.
They also met Jenkins’s family. Cooper sat with his wife Rita and found it hard to believe that “this woman could be married to a murderer.”
It was Craig Katz who had made the decision to excuse Judith Cooper from the jury. Katz says he decided to ask the court to excuse her because Cooper had been so vague and noncommittal when questioned about her feelings. Katz feared that Cooper, being in a hurry, might push for a quick verdict, which would more than likely go against Jenkins. Or if deliberations ran on into the evening, she might take her anger at being trapped there out on Jenkins.
The jury did continue to deliberate into the evening, and Cooper left to attend services. Richard Childs waited in the courthouse. Fred Hattenberger also waited. Craig Katz’s hope began to fade. “In a long deliberation,” he explains, “it’s generally the kiss of death when the alternates come out on your side.”
Evening became night.
“Most jurors’ minds can be changed,” Dennis Dernbach says. “Anytime they are out for a couple of hours, you assume they’re discussing the case.”
Craig Katz, responding to Cooper’s statement that there was no way she would have found Jenkins guilty, says, “It’s easy to make statements like that when you’re not in the jury room.”
At 10:30 that night, more than nine hours after deliberations began, the jury returned its verdict. Allison Jenkins was found guilty as charged.
Jenkins was clearly shocked by the verdict. “What?” he called. On the other side of the smoked glass separating the spectators from the courtroom, his wife cried.
Sentencing was set for October 30. The minimum sentence would be 20 years for felony murder, the maximum sentence life.
Out in the hallway, Katz told reporters, “I think it stinks. I think it’s absurd.” He said the state “jacked up a simple battery to an aggravated battery and then jacked up an aggravated battery into a murder, all because of some trigger-happy cop.”
The cop, Fred Hattenberger, told reporters, “It was just what I expected to happen.” Asked how he felt, now that it was over, he said, “Your pen doesn’t have enough ink to write what I’ve gone through.”
A few minutes later, Andrea Grannum, the only black juror, led her fellow jurors down the stairway to the first floor of the courthouse. Reporters waiting near the bottom of the stairway could see the tears streaming down her face, but before they could question her, Richard Childs, the alternate juror who was also waiting, put his arm around her and led her off to the side.
All the other jurors refused to comment. They walked together toward the revolving doors leading out of the building. It was raining outside and it was misty. The jurors stood there, 11 strong, by the revolving doors, waiting for the rain to let up or just saying good-bye. Then Andrea Grannum and Richard Childs walked around them and pushed through the door into the rain and disappeared into the night.
Childs walked Andrea Grannum to her car and she started it and started home. But her tears were too heavy. She could not see well enough to drive. She managed to pull the car into a gas station and then called a friend from a pay phone. He came with a friend and drove her home.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get as low as I was that night,” Grannum says. She had helped to convict a man who she did not believe was guilty. “I was so stupid,” she says. She was up most of that night, crying and talking. She has three daughters, the oldest in college. It was the 13-year-old who consoled her, “Mom, it’s all right.”
Her friend tried to make her feel better. “You didn’t do it by yourself,” he told her. “You didn’t do it to him, the system did it to him. If it wasn’t you, there would have been 12 other people.”
Grannum says, “It’s hard to explain what jury deliberations are like. It’s so heavy on your mind. The mental pressure is unbelievable. I never dreamed it would be like that. It’s almost like an interrogation, where the police get you in that room and put that bright light in your eyes.”
The jury took its first vote soon after deliberations began. According to Grannum, seven or eight jurors thought Jenkins was guilty, two or three were undecided, and she and the foreman thought he was innocent.
Most of the jurors did not believe Jenkins’s version of the events. They cited ballistics testimony to back up their belief. If Jenkins’s story was true, they contended, the bullet would not have followed an upward path through Jay Brunkella’s body. Grannum argued that this wasn’t necessarily true; besides, if Jenkins’s story was a lie, why wasn’t it a better one? The defense knew about the trajectory of the bullet. If they were going to make up a lie, they could have come up with one that better fit the facts.
Many of the jurors could not believe that Hattenberger, or any other policeman, would strike a civilian without provocation. Grannum thought most of them were out of touch with the way things sometimes happened in the city.
Grannum herself lives in the suburbs. But she says, “It’s not suburban or city so much as the way you’re brought up, what you’ve seen or not seen. You can be a city person and be very naive.”
“Why would Hattenberger lie?” some of the jurors asked.
They need a scapegoat, Grannum told them. Someone had to pay for Jay Brunkella’s death.
She says she thought of the dead man as an honest and fair policeman. “I got an image of him as being different than his partner. He was a street cop but he wasn’t out for blood.”
Grannum says that she also felt some sympathy for Hattenberger. “The fact that it was his gun, the fact that his partner died. There were a lot of ifs. If he hadn’t pulled out his gun. He needed Jenkins to be guilty to atone for that.”
But her arguments were to no avail. One by one the undecided switched to guilty. As they deliberated, Grannum says, “They kept putting more and more weight on the testimony of Harry Walker. They ended up saying that he saw a struggle. But this man never said he saw a struggle. He said he saw a commotion.”
Harry Walker, a housepainter, had been a witness for the prosecution. He’d testified that he’d been loading something into the back of his nearby van when he heard something happening, turned to see Jenkins and Hattenberger falling, and then heard the gun go off. This backed up the state’s contention that the gun fired during the fall.
The jury sent a note out to the judge asking for transcripts of certain testimony. All they received in reply was a message to keep deliberating.
By six o’clock it was 11 against one. Sometime after that, Grannum says, they sent another message to the judge saying that they could not reach a verdict. The message came back to keep deliberating.
“That added a little pressure to me,” Grannum says. “That was telling me that you better think of something so you can see it the way everybody else sees it.”
She kept asking herself, am I unconsciously refusing to see this just because we’re both black?
No, she answered each time, I just don’t see it.
The other jurors were never ugly or mean to her. “But they kept giving me their theories of why he was guilty. I got very tired,” she says, “very worn down.
“Some of the jurors were very intelligent and astute,” Grannum says. “But some of them were not bright enough to decide a man’s fate. They had nothing to say, no opinions at all, and I resented that. Some people were very nonchalant about it. One lady acted silly. ‘Persuade me,’ she said. ‘I can go either way.'”
Before the trial, Grannum says, “I was a typical middle-class black person who basically believed in the judicial system.” Now, she says, “I think the judicial system stinks. I think it’s terrible. I’m sure there are plenty of innocent men in jail, if they were judged like these jurors judged.”
She also felt hints of racism in the jury room. After Jenkins had testified one juror said, “He sounds like he’s been rehearsed.”
Another juror, a woman, agreed. “He talked too well,” she said.
“I wanted to slap her,” Andrea Grannum says. “Jenkins talked like he had some kind of intelligence. He had a good command of the English language.” She thought some of the jurors felt a black man could not possibly talk that well on his own. Therefore he must have been coached.
As the night wore on the pressure increased. The judge had told them to keep deliberating, but except for Grannum everyone agreed. More and more the deliberations had become Grannum struggling to see the incident their way.
“I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t do it alone,” Grannum says. Nine and a half hours after deliberations began, she weakened and gave in. She agreed that if Hattenberger had grabbed Jenkins’s arm and Jenkins’s body had then moved in any kind of way, even in an involuntary reflex, that motion could have been enough to be considered “physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature,” which is a legal definition of battery, a misdemeanor that becomes aggravated battery, a felony, when committed against a police officer “engaged in the execution of any of his official duties including arrest or attempted arrest.”
But almost as soon as she conceded the point, she changed her mind. The verdict was put in front of her and she knew it was wrong. “I’ll sign it,” she says she told her fellow jurors, “but I don’t agree with it at all.” And she signed the verdict.
“I was so stupid,” she says now.
The jurors filed into the courtroom and the verdict was read. Guilty on both counts. Katz requested that the jury be polled.
As Judge Urso called the first juror’s name and asked “Was this then and is this now your verdict?” Andrea Grannum realized that she was being given another chance. But before she could prepare herself, the judge called the second name. “Andrea Grannum, was this then and is this now your verdict?”
And she didn’t have the nerve.
“Yes,” she said, and she hung her head.
Ten more yeses followed. Allison Jenkins was guilty of the murder of Jay Brunkella. Signed, sealed, and delivered. “Maybe if I’d had a little more time,” Grannum says. “If there’d been five or six before me maybe . . .” Her voice trails off. “I thought I would get in trouble so I just said yeah.” She says she believed she could have been held in contempt of court if she’d spoken her mind. The jury walked into the jury room for the last time and Andrea Grannum ran into the washroom and burst into tears.
When she came out, Judge Urso was in the room handing out certificates to the jurors, thanking them for their service. She put her coat on and then Urso said, “Here you go, Mrs. Grannum,” and handed her the last certificate and shook her hand. She says she was still in tears at this time. If Judge Urso noticed, he made no comment.
Some of the other jurors were laughing and joking. Andrea Grannum felt as bad as she ever had.
That weekend the trial would not go away. “I didn’t know what to do,” she says. “I had this big problem going around in my head. I’m not good at putting things out of my mind. I have to act on them. They just bother me and bother me until I do something.”
On Tuesday morning she called the judge.
Andrea Grannum was the second juror to call Judge Urso. On Monday he’d received a call from Margaret Smith. Smith told Urso that she had gone to the scene of the shooting over the weekend and no longer felt that Allison Jenkins was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Smith is the alternate juror who replaced Judith Cooper on the jury. The two women both live on the north side and had ridden together during the trial. On Saturday, the day after the verdict, they talked by phone. Smith, who does not own a car, wanted to buy Cooper a meal to thank her for the rides. They decided to have breakfast on Sunday at the Heartland Cafe, a restaurant about a mile south of the scene of the shooting.
Cooper says she felt awful when she heard about the verdict. In many ways she blamed herself. “I feel terribly guilty,” she says. “Someone died tragically and there was no need to add to it.”
During breakfast, Cooper told Smith about the things she had learned after the jury began deliberating–about the previous shooting, about the lawsuit by Carol Brunkella. Cooper explained her feelings about Rita Jenkins, and shared with Smith something she had learned from the defendant’s wife. According to Rita, Allison had been dressed in shorts and an unbuttoned white shirt at the time of the shooting. Hattenberger had testified that he thought Jenkins might be armed, but according to Rita there’d been no place for Allison to hide a gun.
How Jenkins was dressed that afternoon was a question never raised in front of the jury, Cooper and Smith say. Allison Jenkins wore a denim jacket and pants throughout the trial, and Smith had imagined him dressed somewhat the same way on the street. But it was cool during the trial. It had been hot that day on Jonquil Terrace.
This new information did not change Smith’s mind. She still did not believe Jenkins’s version of the shooting.
After breakfast, the two women decided to drive to Jonquil Terrace. As soon as they turned the corner in front of the Gale school, Allison Jenkins’s story suddenly made sense to Margaret Smith.
The street was tiny. In the courtroom drawing it had seemed huge. Now it looked like no room at all. Jonquil Terrace was a narrow street running between an aging public school and two run-down residential buildings.
In court, Jenkins had testified that he’d backed up from the firebox in front of the school to a spot across from the courtyard building, all the while asking Hattenberger to put his gun away. In his closing argument Dennis Dernbach had made much of that testimony. Do you really believe he backed up 60 to 80 feet? Which is more believable–his backing up or his running? In the courtroom, with only the drawing as a guide, it had been hard to believe that Jenkins had backed up as much as he’d claimed. Now, on the street, that distance seemed like nothing at all.
Smith had never been happy about Fred Hattenberger running around with his gun out. “I wouldn’t want to have a seven-year-old in school while the police are outside chasing people like that,” she says. But she had a hard time believing that any police officer would strike a suspect without reason. That belief, coupled with the improbability of Jenkins’s story, had led her to believe Hattenberger. She still leaned in that direction; but now, recognizing how Jenkins’s story could have been true, she suddenly had some very reasonable doubts. She was not certain of Jenkins’s innocence, as Judith Cooper was, but she was no longer convinced of his guilt.
The two women never got out of the car. They sat there for a while taking it in, the firebox and the school fence, the spot in the street where Jay Brunkella fell. After a while they drove down to Howard Street.
Cooper parked the car and they got out. It was a cool but sunny Sunday afternoon, the anniversary of Jay Brunkella’s death. Margaret Smith could not believe that she was actually walking around in “the Jungle.”
The neighborhood was a shock. Hearing about it in court, “I thought it was the worst neighborhood in Chicago,” Smith says. “I thought it was the kind of place where you’d have to be fearful for your life if you went through there at two in the afternoon.” Here she was walking down the street, and it wasn’t that way at all. “It was a neighborhood,” she says. She wouldn’t want to live there but it was a long way from what she had imagined. They went into a bakery and bought some Jamaican bread and ate it as they walked along. “It was great,” Smith says of the bread.
Smith took some of the bread home with her. In the morning she called Judge Urso and told him she had changed her mind. Urso told her that he would have to inform all the attorneys involved and that she should expect to hear from them. “If anyone gives you any trouble please let me know.”
Judge Urso received another call that same day. James Crooks, a Chicago police officer, told the judge that he had once seen Fred Hattenberger strike a civilian in a manner similar to the slap that Jenkins had described at the trial. This incident had taken place in a bar on Clark Street. According to Crooks, Hattenberger struck the civilian on the back with a flashlight for no apparent reason.
On Tuesday, October 27, defense attorney Craig Katz filed motions asking that the jury’s verdict be set aside, and that James Crooks’s allegations be considered as new evidence and as the basis for a new trial.
The hearing takes place on October 30, the date originally set for sentencing. In the hallway outside the courtroom, Andrea Grannum, Judith Cooper, and Margaret Smith wait for the appearance of Craig Katz. They talk quietly and pass around the morning Tribune, which has a long story about the case by the Tribune’s criminal courts reporter, Linnet Myers. Under the headline “A shot is fired, a cop dies–but is it murder?” the story recaps events in the case and quotes Allison Jenkins from a jailhouse interview. “One thing that really, really puzzles me,” he asks, “how can they charge me with a murder I didn’t commit? How can a man not have a gun and be found guilty of murder? The question is there. How can it be done?”
Myers quotes two law professors who say that the felony-murder law is based in English common law, but that Britain itself abolished the rule in 1957 and that “the most likely result around the country is that this case would not be felony murder.”
The story also quotes an unnamed police source: “Truthfully, I don’t think he should have been found guilty, and that’s the feeling of most people who were working on the tact team, the people who knew Jay and knew Jenkins.
“To be frank, I was surprised he was charged with murder. I was shocked he was found guilty. . . . He was wrong–he was out there dealing. He was guilty of narcotics violations but not murder. . . .
“Ninety-five percent of the policemen would have handled the situation differently [from Hattenberger]. There’s a time and a place to unholster your revolver, and that wasn’t the time and place.”
Myers quotes Sergeant Thomas Spanos in response: “Unless you yourself are in a situation on the street, nobody can say what you saw. . . . If they criticize him for taking out his gun, they’re wrong. If they support him for taking out his gun, they’re wrong. He made that decision because he was aware of everything around him.”
The story details Grannum and Smith’s calls to Judge Urso and quotes two other jurors, one of them Patricia Terrones and one unnamed. “Terrones said the jurors were ‘very displeased’ that Hattenberger had drawn his gun when he chased Jenkins. They felt that his actions were dangerous, she explained. ‘One man on the jury said he used to handle guns. He said that [Hattenberger] shouldn’t have done that, drawn his gun. That shouldn’t have been permissible.’
“Terrones and the other juror, who asked not to be named, said that had they known about Hattenberger’s past actions, it might have made a difference in their verdicts. ‘I wish we could have known a little bit more,’ the second juror said. ‘There probably wasn’t enough presented to us. It would have made a difference.'”
Katz arrives and confers with the three jurors before entering the courtroom. Smith and Grannum, being possible witnesses, will have to stay out in the hallway until they are called to testify–if Judge Urso allows them to testify, that is.
Allison Jenkins is led into the courtroom. He’s wearing a checkered sweater and gray slacks and seems cheerful as he waves to his family, which is out in force. Katz argues that the court erred in not granting a mistrial because of the systematic exclusion of blacks from the jury. He points out that the only black was also the only holdout.
He argues that he should have been allowed to question Hattenberger about the prior accidental shooting and about Carol Brunkella’s lawsuit. He says about Hattenberger, “I don’t believe he’s a safe officer on the street. I don’t believe he belongs on the street.”
He also argues that the judge let in vague hearsay evidence when he allowed Hattenberger to testify that he had heard Jenkins was armed.
Katz tells the judge that Andrea Grannum never believed Jenkins was guilty. “As she signed the verdict form she did not agree. At the polling of the jury she whispered her name and said yes but she did not believe Jenkins was guilty.”
Katz says that police officer James Crooks is prepared to testify that he once saw Hattenberger, “without provocation, words, or warning,” strike an unarmed civilian on the back of the neck with his flashlight and “drive him to his knees.” Katz asks Urso to consider Crooks’s testimony as new evidence and as the basis for a new trial.
Katz argues that the murder charge against Jenkins is illegal. Simple battery, a misdemeanor, became aggravated battery, a felony, because the victim was a police officer. And because he was now charged with a felony he could also be charged with felony murder. This, Katz charges, is unlawful double enhancement. He makes a motion for an arrested judgment.
Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph McNerney responds that blacks and whites were both excluded from the jury and he points out that two blacks were on the final panel, one of them an alternate.
He says the prior shooting took place 12 years earlier as police were searching for fugitives from Cook County Jail. Hattenberger was bumped in the rear and his weapon discharged, causing minor leg wounds to another officer. McNerney argues that the old incident has no relevance to the current matter. “Officer Hattenberger has never fired his weapon at a suspect in 15 years on the police force.”
McNerney reminds Urso that the court did not allow the state to present witnesses who would have testified that Jenkins had previously sold drugs at the school yard.
He says that Carol Brunkella’s civil lawsuit was filed four days before jury selection and is unlikely to have had any bearing on Hattenberger’s testimony. “Consider what Officer Hattenberger has gone through since the shooting. If anything, Officer Hattenberger would like to see Carol Brunkella recover under that suit.”
McNerney then cites the case of People v. Jarosiewick, where the Illinois Appellate Court upheld a criminal court judge’s refusal to allow the defense, in an aggravated battery case, to cross-examine a police officer with regard to a civil-rights suit growing out of the same incident.
McNerney next cites Tanner v. United States. In this 1987 case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal judge who had denied a motion for a new trial that was based on charges of juror incompetence. Several of the jurors allegedly consumed large quantities of drugs and alcohol throughout the original trial. The Supreme Court majority found that “juror intoxication is not an outside influence about which jurors may testify to impeach their verdict.” Granting that some verdicts are surely reached “after irresponsible or improper jury behavior,” the Court warned that “full and frank discussion in the jury room, jurors’ willingness to return an unpopular verdict, and the community’s trust in a system that relies on the decisions of laypeople would all be undermined by a barrage of postverdict scrutiny of juror conduct.”
There was “no juror,” says Joseph McNerney, “that did not clearly, out loud, voice their assent with the verdict. . . . Polling is intended to discover coercion. Once they are polled it’s over forever.”
McNerney cites an opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals in a similar case: “The general rule is that jurors may not impeach their verdict. After a jury has given its verdict, has been polled in open court and has been discharged, an individual juror’s change of mind or claim that he was mistaken or unwilling in his assent to the verdict comes too late.”
Allison Jenkins looks discouraged, as if he sees all hope slipping away.
“Mrs. Grannum was polled in open court,” McNerney says. “That was her time, and that is the purpose of polling.” He argues that any inquiry into the jury is “clearly improper.”
He wastes little time on Margaret Smith’s visit to the scene. The law is clear, he states: jurors may not go to the scene without the court.
McNerney argues that Officer Crooks’s testimony should not be allowed. He cites the opinion of the Illinois Appellate Court in People v. Martin: “To entitle a defendant to a new trial, newly discovered evidence must be conclusive and likely to change result upon retrial, must be material and noncumulative, must have been discovered after the trial, and must be of such character that it could not have been discovered before trial by exercise of due diligence.
“Newly discovered evidence which only has the effect of impeaching, discrediting, or contradicting a witness does not afford a basis for a new trial.”
McNerney says that “James Crooks is not a credible or believable witness.” He says Crooks never reported the alleged incident to the Office of Professional Standards, or to the Internal Affairs Division, or to the State’s Attorney’s Office, or to the federal government, and that this failure might itself be official misconduct. “James Crooks’s career with the Chicago Police Department has been less than exemplary.”
Jenkins slips lower in his seat.
McNerney cites People v. Hughes, a rape case dealing with a motion for a new trial. Dennis Dernbach, the other assistant state’s attorney, appears to be falling asleep.
On the other side of the tinted glass, some of Jenkins’s relatives appear to be sleeping.
McNerney cites People v. Terry, in which the Illinois Supreme Court wrote: “The common-design law permits a defendant accountable for the actions of others to be liable for a murder even though a misdemeanor was originally intended.”
McNerney cites People v. Decker, a complicated Illinois Appellate Court case dealing with double enhancement. He proceeds to People v. Hickman, in which two burglars were convicted of murder after a police detective was shot to death by a fellow officer during a search outside a liquor warehouse.
“In Hickman,” McNerney tells the court, “there’s no evidence that the real burglars were still there and they were convicted of murder.”
If the mention that Hickman and the other burglar experienced even worse luck was intended to make Allison Jenkins feel better about his own, it doesn’t seem to work. Jenkins sinks yet lower in his seat.
“I submit, your honor, that you are bound by the rulings of these cases,” McNerney tells the judge. “That’s the law.”
Katz, in his response, notes McNerney’s comment that James Crooks might be exposing himself to charges of official misconduct, and asks the judge, “What more credible witness would you want?”
There is a short recess. When Urso returns, he says that he has decided to listen to Crooks’s testimony before ruling on the motion for a new trial.
Margaret Smith is now sitting with Judith Cooper in the back of the courtroom. Katz has obviously given up any hope of putting her on the stand. Andrea Grannum waits in the hallway, alone again.
Crooks testifies that sometime in 1986, while patrolling in a one-man squad car, he responded to a call of a fight in a bar at 6627 N. Clark St. He doesn’t remember the day or the month of the incident, but he remembers that it was daytime and the day was a warm one.
Hattenberger and approximately six other officers were already on the scene when Crooks arrived. The disturbance was over and the patrons were filing out the door on police orders. Crooks was standing by the door. Hattenberger was inside the tavern, about ten feet away. As a Mexican patron walked past, Hattenberger took his metal flashlight and hit the man on the back of the head. The Mexican doubled over and continued out the door. No words were exchanged. No arrests were made. There had been no provocation.
Asked why he did not report the incident, Crooks says, “It is not–we don’t do that. If we see a police officer commit an infraction, we don’t routinely report that.”
Crooks testifies that after it became known around the 24th District that he was planning to testify, he began to be harassed. Crooks does not cite any actual physical or oral abuse, but he says that Crooks Is Dead and Kill Crooks were written on walls around the station. He asked for a transfer and a week ago was moved to central headquarters at 11th and State.
He admits that before the trial began he telephoned Katz anonymously and told him about the prior shooting incident involving Hattenberger. He did not mention the tavern incident at that time.
On cross-examination, McNerney asks why he didn’t report the incident. Hadn’t he been taught at the police academy to report such incidents?
“They do not train you in the police academy to routinely inform on your fellow officers,” Crooks answers. He says he was not aware that failure to report such an incident could be considered official misconduct.
“Have you ever heard of official misconduct?” McNerney asks.
“Yes I have,” Crooks replies.
“Do you always work alone?”
“The majority of the time at 24 I worked alone.”
“You don’t like Hattenberger, do you?”
“I hardly know Hattenberger.”
A while later, Crooks says, “From what I know, Officer Hattenberger is a fine officer.” He admits that he has seen many infractions while on the job and had never reported any of them until now.
McNerney tries to get Crooks to admit that he has seen more serious infractions than this one. But Crooks says this is the most serious incident he has ever witnessed.
McNerney is incredulous. “Are you telling me that in 17 years . . .”
“Yes sir,” Crooks answers.
Crooks admits that in 1985 he was suspended for four months after being charged with two rule violations–refusing to take a physical and making a false report at the personnel division. But he counters, “I was charged and exonerated and given all my back pay.”
At first he doesn’t remember a 1981 suspension for filing a false report. “I’m sorry I couldn’t remember a three-day suspension. After 17 years these complaints come and go.”
Crooks admits that the physical he refused to take would have included a urine test.
“Is that why you refused to take it?” McNerney asks.
An objection is sustained.
Crooks admits that in 1983 the police board recommended that he be suspended for 30 days on a charge of public indecency. But, he says, the suspension was nullified by the superintendent of police. “I never served that.”
On redirect by Katz, Crooks testifies that he came forward “because of the amount of time this defendant would have to serve after he had been found guilty.”
After Crooks is excused, Judge Urso says that he will consider the testimony, as well as the affidavit signed by Andrea Grannum and the cases cited by McNerney. He tells the attorneys that if they have any other cases to cite, to please file them as soon as possible. The hearing is then continued until November 13.
Out in the hall, Andrea Grannum is informed that she will have to return in two weeks. Crooks tells reporters that he would come forward again. “What’s a little harassment compared to 20 years?”
“What about this indecent exposure?” a female reporter asks Crooks.
Crooks walks away.
The reporter follows. “I know that’s often for something as innocent as urinating in an alley. Is it something like that in this case?”
Crooks walks away mumbling, looking embarrassed.
A few minutes later, Katz is out in the hallway touting Crooks to the reporters. “Seventeen years on the police force and one three-day suspension. How’s that for a record?”
Katz says the indecent exposure charge was for urinating in an alley.
Later, McNerney tells a reporter that Crooks was charged with exposing himself to a female lifeguard in a pool at the University of Illinois.
The Sun-Times runs the story on page 44 under the headline, “Cop-killing death threats told.” The Tribune headline is milder: “Cop who spoke out tells of harassment.” But it’s on page one. This is the first time that any of the stories growing out of the shooting has made it to the front page.
After she changed her mind and her name was in the newspapers, Andrea Grannum had a dream. “The police came to my house and brought two tow trucks and hooked one to each end of my car and then they just pulled it apart. ‘See, that’s what you get,’ they told me.”
Up at the Rogers Park district station, some of the men who worked with Jay Brunkella are unhappy with the press coverage. “It’s all on Jenkins’s side,” one man says, then adds, “Don’t use my name.”
“It never happened,” Sergeant Tom Spanos says of the flashlight incident alleged by Officer Crooks.
Spanos also has complaints about the press coverage. “The Tribune called Jenkins a ‘nickel-and-dime marijuana man,’ as if he’s harmless. But here’s a guy who’s outside a grade school selling dope. He’s already been arrested for selling cocaine. In the course of all these years he’s been a nickel-and-dime man, how many kids has he killed? When we find some kid dead of an overdose, we don’t know where he got the drugs. You never know what they’re cutting this stuff with. They all think they’re great chemists.”
Spanos repeats what he told the Tribune. Only Fred Hattenberger was out there on the street, in a position to judge the situation. “They can’t tell you how to feel,” Spanos says. “Some guys are scared all the time. Some guys are never scared. Some guys wear bullet-proof vests and carry two guns. Some guys never pull their gun out.”
Allison Jenkins’s sister Cynthia says, “The legal system here is something else. The police have all the rights and you have none.
“How could you not be allowed to introduce Hattenberger’s character to the jury?” she asks. She says that Smith would not have had to visit the scene “if she’d been given enough evidence at the trial.” Of Andrea Grannum, she says, “If she had one ounce of doubt she shouldn’t have given in. But I don’t know what the pressures were.”
Jenkins’s mother, Kathleen, is certain he’ll be granted a new trial. “I trust in God with all my heart,” she says.
Rita Jenkins has no such faith. “I think we’re going to have to appeal,” she says.
Every Thursday she makes the 14-mile trip to the Cook County Jail, then waits an hour or two for a 25-minute visit with Allison. “He’s doing better than I am,” she says of her husband. But he doesn’t expect Urso to grant the new trial either. “He thinks he’ll get a quick appeal,” Rita says.
She says that Allison got more depressed as the hearing wore on. “Those other cases have nothing to do with this case.”
Rita Jenkins is also from Belize. She came to the U.S. with her husband in 1977. They lived in Harlem for a while before moving to Chicago. “New York is much faster and crazier than Chicago. But I don’t really think this would have happened there.”
They have two boys, eight and three. The older one is in second grade, on a scholarship at a private school.
She talked to Andrea Grannum at the hearing. “She’s really shaken up,” she says. “She really felt she should have stuck it out longer. I think she did the best she could.” She says she has no hard feelings. “Coming forward was a big step for her to take. Most people would just forget about the case and go forward with their own life. Who cares enough about another person to go that far?”
November 13 is a Friday. The day is not a lucky one for Allison Jenkins.
Before the hearing, Judith Cooper sits on the floor in the hallway outside the courtroom reading children’s books to Jenkins’s two boys. Rita Jenkins leans against the wall.
Cooper says she doubts she will ever forget the trial. “It’s kind of obsessive on my part. I want to see it through to the end. I don’t think it’s a case that should be buried.”
When Katz comes in he says he thinks the odds are fifty-fifty for a new trial.
Rita Jenkins sits in the front row of the spectators’ section, a boy on either side of her. When Allison is led into the courtroom he smiles at his family. The boys wave back.
Judge Urso says that Andrea Grannum will not be allowed to testify. But her affidavit will remain a part of the posttrial motion and he is willing to hear evidence about additional cases where jurors changed their minds.
He denies the motion for a mistrial based on the systematic exclusion of black jurors. Urso says, “This did not occur.” He says that he required the state to give reasons why each juror was excluded and was satisfied that these were racially neutral reasons.
Urso says he believes he was correct in precluding questioning of Hattenberger about the prior shooting incident. “The fact that something else had occurred 12 years earlier in different circumstances is not relevant here.” He says the lawsuit by Carol Brunkella does not name Hattenberger and would not have affected his testimony. “The question the jury must determine is what happened out on the street on that particular day.”
Urso says that Margaret Smith changed her mind after she considered evidence not before the court.
As for Andrea Grannum’s contention that she was coerced into her verdict and never truly believed Jenkins to be guilty, Urso says, “This is not the first time this issue has arisen.” But, he says, the state of the law since the beginning of the century has been that “a juror will not be allowed to impeach his or her verdict based on testimony to something that occurred in the jury room.”
Urso also says that three hours before the verdict, the jury sent out a note reporting that they had reached a unanimous verdict on one charge but were deadlocked on the other. Urso says he doesn’t know which charge–murder or aggravated battery–the jury was unanimous on, “but it included this juror.”
Urso says that his instructions to the jurors were clear. If after considering the evidence they did not believe the charges had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then their verdict must be not guilty. “Every juror knew what their duties were.
“This would undermine our whole jury system,” Urso says. He says there is no evidence that Grannum was coerced. “She was polled in open court.” He recalls his trip into the jury room. He says he shook each juror’s hand, including Andrea Grannum’s, and she gave no sign.
Urso says that James Crooks did not remember when the incident in the bar had taken place. “Clearly that does not fall into the category of newly discovered evidence,” and would not have been admitted at the trial. On the other hand, Crooks’s statement that Hattenberger enjoyed a fine reputation would have been allowed, the judge says.
He says that the double-enhancement argument is “the point I found the most troublesome.” But he says he now believes that this is not a case of double enhancement. He says that in every double-enhancement case he studied, it was reasoned that one set of facts was used twice. For instance, a battery is committed with a gun, and the gun is used to raise the charge to aggravated battery, and then it’s used once more to raise aggravated battery to armed violence. But, Urso says, a battery on a policeman “is as much an aggravated battery as any other aggravated battery.
“Although it is difficult for people to understand how someone can be charged with murder without pulling the trigger, clearly the law indicates that is not necessary.
“The court is of the opinion that these motions should be denied, they will be denied, and they are hereby denied.”
Sentencing is set for December 4.
“Bye, Daddy,” says Allison Jenkins’s oldest son, as his father is being led back to the lockup.
“I feel bad,” Andrea Grannum says in the hallway outside the courtroom.
Judith Cooper says, “You base this on all this law, but what it boils down to is two people who didn’t know they could say something.”
“Dissent should take place in the jury room,” Dennis Dernbach says. “The law is clear: how a jury reaches a verdict is the province of the jury.”
In the aftermath of the trial Margaret Smith decided, “I will never do jury duty again as long as I live.”
After she talked to Judge Urso she talked to friends and colleagues. “Why didn’t you get out of it?” was a question many of them asked.
“I knew things I could have said to get excused,” Smith says now, “but I thought it would be a good experience.”
Jenkins had denied everything when he’d taken the stand. He wasn’t selling dope. He was just talking to some friends in a passing car and they’d given him some potato chips. Smith did not think he was very believable. When she told friends that one of the reasons she disbelieved Jenkins was that she didn’t think a police officer would strike a suspect without cause, some of them told her that occasionally incidents such as that do occur.
“When many people say things like that,” Smith says, “you start to believe that you are naive.”
Smith doesn’t know if any of the information withheld from the jury would have made any difference in the final outcome.
“After a situation, everybody knows the answers,” Smith says.
She has one answer of her own. Now when people ask her why she didn’t get out of jury duty, she tells them, “I’ll never do it again.”
She knows this is not good for the judicial system. “It’s a catch-22,” she says. “The people who are on the ball are on the ball enough to know not to want to serve.” She has just joined this group.
“I don’t want to sit in that seat again,” Margaret Smith says. “I don’t want to judge.”
Gary Brunkella followed newspaper accounts of the trial and the hearings. When he read Allison Jenkins’s version of the events–with Jay telling Fred Hattenberger, “You can put your gun away”–he was certain those were, in fact, his brother’s words.
“When I read that,” Gary says, “I knew. Boom. Goddamn, that sounded so much like Jay.
“Jay was basically like me,” Gary says. “He was maybe a little hot at times but generally speaking he liked people. He was a little methodical, like I would be on a job, saying to someone ‘Slow down. You go too fast. You’re gonna hurt yourself. You’ll fall off the side of the building or go down the shaft. Just slow down.’ That’s the same way Jay was. ‘Put your gun away.’ I can almost hear him.”
Except for that first day in the hospital, Gary had never felt Jenkins was solely responsible for Jay’s death. Fred Hattenberger had to share the blame. “Why did this clown have his gun out?” Gary asks. “Jay didn’t have his gun out. That’s what bothered me before anything else.
“There’s nothing wrong with being afraid,” Gary says, “but you’ve got to be aware of the job you’re gonna do.
“When I’m in the shaft and a pebble falls on me I get out of the shaft and go find where the pebble came from because the next time it might be a rock.
“You’re not getting paid to die. That’s not your job.
“If it’s dangerous it’s good to be afraid because it helps to temper your behavior.”
If it was fear that had caused Fred Hattenberger to pull out his gun that day on Jonquil Terrace, Gary is sorry that the same fear did not also cause him to act with a degree of restraint.
But Gary isn’t sure it was fear at all.
“Hattenberger’s a hot dog,” a cop had told them the day after the shooting.
“What’s that?” Shirley Brunkella asked.
Gary already knew the answer. “That’s somebody who watches too many cop shows on TV,” he told his mother.
The cop was an old friend of Jay’s. They’d gone to high school together. The Brunkella family had known the man for over 20 years. There had been no reason for Hattenberger to pull his gun out, he told them. They knew where Jenkins lived. If he ran, so what? They’d get him at home.
He also told them about Hattenberger’s previous shooting incident. “He likes that gun,” this cop said, and he likes to wave it around, and they should get him off the force before somebody else gets hurt.
So this became their line too. If someone asked Gary or Patsy or Jay’s mother Shirley about the shooting they would parrot the words of Jay’s friend. They had no firsthand knowledge of what happened that day on Jonquil Terrace. They didn’t know Fred Hattenberger from Adam. They’d never met him. They didn’t know what he looked like and they didn’t really care. If Jay’s friend said he was the bad guy, then he was the bad guy. It was just that simple.
When Gary read accounts of James Crooks’s testimony, he says, “I thought it was wonderful. I thought, maybe now they’ll get him off the force. Maybe nobody else will get killed.”
He was disappointed when Jenkins wasn’t granted a new trial. But this was mainly because it meant that Crooks’s testimony would not be heard, not because he had much sympathy for Allison Jenkins. “He’s a chicken-shit dealer,” Gary says. “It’s probably bad pot to begin with.”
Patsy says she can understand how Jenkins can be held legally responsible for Jay’s death. “And,” she points out, “he was selling drugs in front of a grade school.” She just wishes that something would happen to Hattenberger, too. “Why are they still letting him have a gun on the street?” she asks. “Wouldn’t you think that after you finally kill someone they’d take your gun away?”
One night after Jenkins was denied a new trial, Gary called Jay’s old friend. The friend was busy and said he would call back. “What are they railroading this kid for?” Gary asked before he hung up.
The friend stopped by the house a few nights later. He’d been stopping by regularly since Jay’s death, which he was taking hard. Suddenly he seemed to be defending Hattenberger–the whole thing had been Jenkins’s fault. He was crying and yelling at the same time. “How can you, Jay’s brother, think that the guy responsible should go free?”
“If that’s how you feel,” the friend said a few minutes later, “I’ll probably never set foot in this house again.” They haven’t seen him since.
Gary doesn’t know what happened to change things. He thinks it might have been all the publicity about the case, or James Crooks breaking the infamous code of silence. Whatever, the department seems to have gathered around Hattenberger to protect him. “Closing ranks,” Gary calls it.
“I don’t understand why they can’t be like decent tradesmen,” Gary says. “What happens in any trade, you don’t work around guys like that.
“Jay gets dumped for life, you slam his badge up on a wall, and then you let this bum skate.
“I think they’re cheating themselves. They’re forgetting who they are and how much they mean to each other and to the city.
“It’s like tradesmen. They all really believe that they are ignorant people. That they don’t have a brain in their skull. But you put these guys together and they build cities. They build civilization. Cops are the same way. They try to maintain the cities, I guess.
“Sometimes I tend to be a little too romantic about cops,” Gary says. “It’s very easy for cops to become enamored with themselves. It’s harder for sheet metal workers.”
Gary says, “There was something that Patsy loved about Jay. He dumped on her one night and he was wrong. He realized he was wrong and he came back and apologized. That’s great masculine loveliness. Guys that can do that don’t need to push anybody around.”
“Jay was an honest guy with a real good heart and a very fair man,” Patsy says.
“Jay was not the only good cop,” Gary says. “There’s a lot of good cops out there and a lot of them liked Jay because they were just like him.
“He was just a good tradesman,” Gary says, “an ordinary person.
“The city’s a victim. They lost a good working man.”
On December 4, Craig Katz asks the court to reconsider his motion for a new trial.
“Denied,” Urso says.
Dennis Dernbach, in his sentencing argument, points out that Allison Jenkins was selling marijuana in front of a school. He says some people contend that selling pot is a victimless crime. But, he argues, the cost to society is great. The victims are the people they sell to and the cost to society of combating drugs. “In this case the cost was the life of Jay Brunkella.” Allison Jenkins did not pull the trigger, Dernbach says, but his actions “in fleeing the police that society has put out there” set in motion a chain of events that ended in the death of Jay Brunkella.
“It’s a tragic death,” Dernbach says, “a tragic loss to Carol Brunkella and her daughter, a tragic loss to Chicago and to society in general.”
He asks Urso to take all that into consideration and sentence Jenkins to “an appropriate amount of years.”
Katz says the state is emphasizing the drug sale. But “this is not a cannabis sale, it’s a murder charge.” He says the shooting was an accident. “He didn’t intend to hurt anyone.” He asks the judge to take into consideration that two jurors changed their minds. “I think that’s as important as anything else in determining sentence.” He asks for the minimum sentence, in this case 20 years, and points out that Jenkins has only a minor criminal background, with one previous conviction.
Urso asks Jenkins if he has anything to say before he is sentenced.
Jenkins asks the judge how he, Urso, would feel if he was on trial in Jenkins’s homeland of Belize, before a black judge and 11 black jurors and two black state’s attorneys. “Would you tell me the court is looking out for your interests or giving you a fair trial?”
“I do not believe that this is a racial issue,” Urso, who is white, responds. “There are legal issues involved here, very unusual legal issues which I have researched.” Urso predicts those issues “will be resolved by the appellate court.”
On the charge of murder, Urso sentences Jenkins to 20 years. Noting that this is the minimum sentence he can impose, he says, “That is appropriate, considering the limitations I have. Not in any way discounting the loss to society or to any particular family.”
He sentences Jenkins to five years on the charge of aggravated battery, but allows the prison terms to run concurrently. But he points out that the 20 years will run consecutively with the earlier six-year sentence for delivery of a controlled substance. An Illinois law requires consecutive sentences if a felon commits a crime while on bond.
Jenkins asks for and receives a 30-day stay, which means he will be in Cook County Jail a while longer before he’s shipped to the penitentiary. Urso tells him that he has until January 8 to file an appeal. Urso also tells Jenkins’s family that if they wait, the bailiff will try to secure the courtroom so the family can have a few minutes to say good-bye before Allison is escorted back to jail.
Out in the hallway, Dennis Dernbach calls the sentence appropriate. He says, “People that sell drugs put themselves and society in volatile situations” and should be held accountable.
Joseph McNerney says, “I’ve tried very few homicides that didn’t involve narcotics one way or another.”
It’s a 15-mile drive from the courthouse and the jail up to Jonquil Terrace and the Gale school. The drug dealers still work the narrow street and the tactical team still stops by. If the sentence stands, the children who are in first grade today and manage to beat the odds will be getting out of high school about the same time that Allison Jenkins comes up for parole.
That will be in the year 2000, if everything goes as expected. But on the streets north of Howard, things rarely happen that way.
That same year Jay Brunkella would be 53.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/John Figler.