Police board fires seven officers
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 23, 2012 12:26AM
7-12-10 Outside Police emblem . Chicago Police Headquarters at 35th and Michigan and Superintendant talks to media about new Firearms Ordinance procedures. Al Podgorski - Sun-Times
Updated: February 24, 2012 8:09AM
The Chicago Police Board recently fired seven officers for violations ranging from a drunken road-rage incident to lying to investigators about a raid.
Officers also were fired for failing to process thousands of tickets, abusing the department’s medical-leave policy and possessing guns while drunk and off-duty.
An ordinance passed last year required the board to post disciplinary findings about cops on its website along with an explanation for each decision.
These are officers who were fired over the last four months:
◆ Officer Matthew Riley allegedly lied to investigators about an illegal raid on a Northwest Side home in 2004.
Members of the Special Operations Section were accused of stealing $13,000 in savings from the home in the 2600 block of North Laramie. Officers had stopped a Cadillac driven by Miguel Melesio, a high-school student, and held him in a squad car while other officers raided his family’s home, officials said. Sources said they do not think the family was involved in illegal activity.
The police board said Riley lied to Internal Affairs investigators that Melesio was in the home during the raid and let officers inside. He also lied that a supervisor was present during the search, the board found.
Riley told the board that a sergeant ordered him to lie and that a lieutenant was present when the sergeant gave the order but never said a word.
Riley was not charged criminally, but 10 other members of the Special Operations Section have pleaded guilty to various crimes including home invasions, robberies and plotting a murder-for-hire that was not carried out. The unit was disbanded after the scandal surfaced. The sergeant resigned and the lieutenant retired.
◆ Officer Kevin Carey was allegedly involved in a road-rage incident in 2006.
Willie Flood, a waiter, told the police board he was heading to work when Carey “for no reason” started to chase his car from the South Side to Logan Square on the Northwest Side. Carey allegedly pointed a gun at Flood on the Kennedy Expressway and later in Logan Square.
Officers unaware Carey was an off-duty cop ordered him to drop his weapon. But, according to a sergeant, Carey continued to point his gun at Flood. Officers eventually knocked the weapon out of Carey’s hand. Only then did they learn he was an off-duty officer.
Two sergeants and two officers testified Carey used racial epithets when referring to Flood.
Carey was charged with aggravated assault and driving under the influence, misdemeanors. He refused to take a Breathalyzer in the criminal case but took one for the department’s internal investigation, and his blood-alcohol level was .145, nearly twice the .08 legal limit, officials said.
Carey challenged prosecutors for using the department’s Breathalyzer results in his criminal case. But an appeals court upheld the prosecutors’ decision.
Carey pleaded guilty to the DUI charge, records show. The assault charge was dropped.
Police board members said they did not believe Carey’s testimony that Flood pointed a gun at him and that Carey complied with the officers’ orders to drop his weapon.
◆ Officer William Whelehan allegedly tossed a bag of dog feces on a neighbor’s porch in 2009 and called the resident, Kenneth James, a racial epithet after James complained that Whelehan’s dog urinated on his Northwest Side lawn. An argument between the men allegedly resulted in Whelehan pointing his weapon at James before officers arrived at the scene. Board members said they did not believe Whelehan’s statement that James was lying.
◆ Officer Dale Prince allegedly fired his weapon in his backyard while he was off-duty and drunk.
Officers also found seven unregistered guns in Prince’s home when they investigated the gunfire in 2007. Board members did not believe Prince’s story that he drew his gun because he was responding to a possible burglary and his gun discharged when he tripped.
◆ Officer Brian Gentzle allegedly was drunk while carrying his weapon in 2008 and lied to investigators about the incident. Gentzle was off-duty when he and an armed civilian were stopped by officers in the stairwell of an apartment building in the 2800 block of North Clybourn, the police board said.
◆ Lasandra Harrell allegedly failed to process thousands of traffic and parking citations between 2004 and 2008. She stuffed the citations in her desk, the board found, adding, “she attempted to hide the fact that she was not doing her job.”
◆ Officer Safona Calderon allegedly took a 2010 vacation in the Dominican Republic while she was on the department’s medical roll and was supposed to stay at home. She made a false statement to the department’s Medical Integrity Unit to cover up her misconduct, the board found.
In September, the Sun-Times reported the Medical Integrity Unit investigated about 1,800 cases since it was formed in 2009. Under their contract, officers are allowed 365 days of sick leave every two years. In 2009, officers took about 150,000 sick days for an average of 11.6 per officer.