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Chicago cop lies, tanks shooting case, but not charged

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez speaks to reporters after a bond hearing for Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in November. | AP photo

By her own admission, Chicago Police Officer Allyson Bogdalek was “untruthful” during a 2011 court hearing for Ranceallen Hankerson, who was charged with armed robbery and attempted murder in connection with a violent liquor store stick-up on the South Side a year earlier.

While under oath on the stand, Bogdalek told the courtroom she hadn’t shown the liquor store owner – who was shot in the leg during the 2010 robbery – a photo spread with Hankerson’s picture prior to his arrest.

In reality, she had shown the owner Hankerson’s photo, but the victim initially failed to identify Hankerson as the assailant – a critical piece of information for Hankerson’s defense, according to court records and interviews.

In 2012, following a series of court hearings but before Hankerson’s actual trial, Bogdalek came clean about what happened – after Hankerson’s defense attorney got a hold of Bogdalek’s squad-car video from the day Hankerson was arrested. The video captured a cell phone conversation between her and a supervisor in which she mentioned showing lineup photos to the liquor store owner shortly after the stick-up.

Hankerson’s criminal case was quickly dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office because of Bogdalek’s conduct, according to interviews and court records.

Reached some months ago, Bogdalek declined comment to the Better Government Association. More recent attempts to get in touch with her were unsuccessful.

To Hankerson’s attorney, Nick Grapsas, Bogdalek should have been fired and prosecuted.

But more than three years later, Bogdalek is still on the job, and it recently came to light that Alvarez ignored a recommendation from an underling to hit Bogdalek and her partner with perjury-related charges – raising further complaints that Alvarez too often looks the other way when it comes to alleged police misconduct, particularly within the Chicago Police Department.

In December 2013, Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Freeman requested permission to charge Bogdalek with three felonies: Perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct, according to court records.

She also recommended that Bogdalek’s partner be granted immunity in exchange for testifying against Bogdalek and pleading guilty to attempted obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor.

The partner was never questioned about the photo array during a Hankerson court hearing but he was “equally blameworthy” because he agreed with Bogdalek to “bury the negative photo array,” Freeman wrote in a memo obtained by the BGA and CBS2.

But Alvarez personally closed the case without charges in February 2014, court records show.

“I lost all respect for that office at that point,” Grapsas, a former Cook County prosecutor, said. “I thought that when this was going to be reviewed that it was going to be seen for what it is. You can’t reconcile the video with that testimony.”

Alvarez refused to answer questions directly. Her top aides, however, defended Alvarez’s decision not to charge Bogdalek and disputed that Alvarez has been soft on cops – even though it took Alvarez more than a year, and intense public pressure, before she leveled murder charges against Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of teenager Laquan McDonald, whose shooting was caught on dash-cam video.

First Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Kirk portrayed Freeman as off the mark on the Bogdalek case, and said, “It seems unjust to hold Bogdalek criminally accountable when she was the whistleblower in this situation.”

Kirk added, “At the end of the day we believed that we wouldn’t have been able to sustain our burden of proof.”

Since taking office in 2008, Alvarez has prosecuted 96 local law enforcement officers, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Nearly 40 percent, or 36 cases, involve Chicago police, followed by 32 Cook County sheriff’s employees and 23 suburban officers. The remaining five cases involve the Illinois State Police and two other departments.

However, many of those cases involve off-duty conduct, including alleged drunken driving and domestic battery. And some of the prosecutions involving a police shooting and excessive force resulted in acquittals.

“The numbers speak for themselves – no other state’s attorney before her has charged as many law enforcement officers,” Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly said via email.

Lying among officers in police reports and in court has long been a problem in Chicago and elsewhere, with critics saying that wouldn’t be the case if prosecutors and police brass held cops more accountable.

In Bogdalek’s situation, before coming clean she told two sergeants and a lieutenant she had been “untruthful” but was instructed to keep quiet, according to court records.

It’s unclear whether Bogdalek or anyone else from the department will ever face discipline. Her personnel file, obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, mentions an investigation by the CPD unit that probes alleged police misconduct. That investigation – which was initiated more than three years ago – remains ongoing, a police spokeswoman said, adding other officers involved in this case also are under scrutiny by the police Internal Affairs Division.

Bogdalek is on desk duty and paid $84,450 a year, according to records and interviews.

This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Andrew Schroedter, who can be reached at aschroedter@bettergov.org.