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Former Chicago cop faces perjury charge

Former police officer SylshinLondoutside 6th District Police Stati7808 South Halsted St. Wednesday Nov. 28 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Former police officer Sylshina London outside the 6th District Police Station at 7808 South Halsted St. Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 30, 2012 3:59PM

Sylshina London, a former Chicago Police officer facing a felony perjury charge, is a small fish.

Unlike the ranking officers in the Jon Burge torture cases, London isn’t accused of standing by while young African-American suspects were tortured with electric shock, beatings and suffocation. Indeed it took prosecutors years to hook Burge with a federal perjury charge.

And unlike the high-ranking law enforcement officials who testified in the federal civil trial of Anthony Abbate, the cop who brutally beat a bartender in 2007, London isn’t accused of taking part in a code of silence.

London is accused of lying about being hit in the face with a bottle by a woman who was riding in a funeral procession that London’s vehicle cut into.

Yet, unlike the free pass handed police officers mentioned above, the Cook County state’s attorney is using the full might of the law against London, even putting its top prosecutor on the case.

Even worse, while the Fraternal Order of Police paid for the criminal defense of Burge, London was left hanging.

Gregg L. Smith, London’s attorney, said the court would determine whether or not the bottle hit her in the face.

Smith claims he has videotape that will prove something was thrown at London, while prosecutors claim to have footage from a blue-light camera that shows London’s car window was up.

“There was a bottle that was thrown by these people and she is being prosecuted,” Smith said.

It will be up to a judge or jury to get to the truth.

But what intrigues me about London’s case is not the charges but the people who are at the root of these allegations.

They are not your average law-abiding citizens. They are people who have wreaked havoc in neighborhoods by committing crimes that include offenses ranging from delivery of drugs and retail theft to battery and aggravated assault. London’s perjury charge stems from a run-in that took place in March of 2010.

That’s when London claimed she was battered and verbally assaulted by the group after she “inadvertently” cut into a funeral procession near 79th and Vincennes. At the time, London was driving her personal vehicle to report to work at the 6th District police station at 78th and Halsted.

The mourners were part of a 100-car procession en route to Mount Hope Cemetery in Morgan Park.

According to the former cop, the group of mourners became so enraged, they cursed her, threatened to “kick her a-- ” and threw liquor bottles at her car.

London testified in court that a bottle Debra Green threw from the passenger seat struck her in the face. After London called uniformed police officers to the scene, Green and others were detained and ended up missing the burial of Green’s sister.

Green filed a complaint with the Independent Review Authority alleging that London “brought discredit” upon the Chicago Police Department by driving her vehicle into a funeral procession.

The former officer was also investigated by the Internal Affairs Division and was put on duty restrictions.

Subsequently, Green was found guilty of misdemeanor battery during a bench trial while three other defendants were acquitted.

After serving 91/2 years on the force, London resigned from the police department last July and moved to North Carolina.

Before leaving town, however, London delivered letters to both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his new superintendent, Garry McCarthy, expressing concerns about the motivation for the IPRA investigation.

“I couldn’t go out quietly without them knowing how unfortunate the situation had become. I guess I am shocked because this is an institution that I believed in,” she said.

Her experience has changed her perspective on policing.

“I never would have worked for an organization that is putting away innocent people knowingly. I served the community to the best of my ability and I never betrayed the people’s trust. When I went to court, I didn’t have to lie on anybody,” London said.

When Green’s conviction was thrown out because of the blue-light camera video, she and two other mourners filed a federal lawsuit against London, the Chicago Police Department and the City of Chicago.

Is this justice?

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