Page 20 - November 2021
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COPA ridiculed by the court
Most officer-involved shooting cases read like a worn-out television sitcom. The officer is re- quired to use deadly force, and COPA inves- tigates it. The usual suspects of civil rights attorneys get the case and seek millions
for the offender or the surviving family.
COPA weighs every inference and deci-
sion against the officer and concludes that
a massive violation of the use-of-force policy
and a cover-up occurred, and seeks termination. The civil rights case proceeds as planned. The
City will defend the officer’s actions, and a settlement may be reached, or the case will go to trial. Throughout all of this, the officer has to not only defend his or her own actions that day but has to defend every single officer-involved shooting since the dawn of policing.
The process is not complicated, and each player knows their role and how to exploit their position. The civil case is about money. The City’s response is initially about saving money but then turns into trying to convince the citizens of the false narrative that “the police are bad, but we have it under con- trol.” COPA’s motivation appears to be...well, I guess that’s for a different day with the help from our good friends at Anheus- er-Busch. However, something interesting just happened that may upend the process.
Recently, two officers were dispatched to a scene of a man with a gun. The officers got on scene and located the offender, who immediately put his hands up and surrendered without
incident. I apologize — this is Chicago, and I forgot that the lawful commands of police officers are openly ignored. The two-time convicted felon began to flee, and a foot chase ensued. Two officers monitored the chase and backed up their fellow officers and went to the scene. The of- fender ran hard and strong to avoid capture. After a serpentine route, he found himself trapped in the back of a yard with a gun in his hand. The responding offi- cers arrived, gave verbal commands for him to drop the gun, and the offender then oriented the gun and his body at them. The officers were in that no man’s land moment. Do they take the bullet that is surely coming, or do they discharge their weapons in self-defense? They had no cover, no concealment and, most importantly, no time to de-escalate. The officers were faced with an imminent threat of death and discharged their weapons. The offender succumbed to his wounds. Play
silly games, win silly prizes.
COPA, of course, moved for termination. However, the su-
perintendent, in a moment of clarity, does not agree. Give cred- it where credit is due: The superintendent objects to termina- tion and takes a very considered position that the officers did in fact act reasonably. In this stacked system we call police dis- cipline in Chicago, one member of the Police Board reviews the case to determine if the superintendent is right or if COPA is right. Think of it as a preliminary hearing-type proceeding. The one member reviews the investigation conducted by COPA and makes a decision as to whether the superintendent is correct and the officers should not be disciplined, or whether the case
  The Law Firm of Grace & Thompson Specializes in Representing Chicago Police Officers
 James E. Thompson, Partner
Timothy M. Grace, Partner
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Seasoned trial attorneys representing Chicago Police Officers in matters before the Chicago Police Board, Internal Affairs, COPA, Inspector General, and Civil and Criminal Courts.
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