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Lawyer wants city punished for hiding cop’s role in 2014 shooting

Attorney Jeffrey Granich is accusing city attorneys of trying to avoid turning over documents that a judge has told them to provide in a police misconduct lawsuit. | Sun-Times file photo

Lawyers for a woman who suffered a miscarriage after being tasered by a Chicago police officer three times in 2013 wants a federal judge to sanction City Hall and the Independent Police Review Authority for withholding key records about the officer in question.

Jeffrey Granich, the lawyer representing Elaina Turner and Ulysses Green in a federal lawsuit against the city and three officers, alleged in a motion this week that Officer Patrick Kelly — who has a history of alleged violent altercations — was involved in a fatal shooting in April 2014. The suspect, Hector Hernandez, was shot 13 times, records show.

But despite multiple assurances from IPRA lawyers that it had previously turned over to Granich all records related to Kelly, Granich claims he only learned of that shooting when he attempted to depose Kelly last week. Now, Granich wants a federal judge to order the city to pay attorney fees and hand down other “punitive sanctions” against the city and IPRA for not revealing that shooting.

Granich’s motion also says city lawyers turned over a document the day before Kelly’s deposition indicating Kelly “was twice found unfit for duty following a psychiatric evaluation.”

“The documents in dispute are not part of the officer’s disciplinary files requested by the plaintiffs’ attorneys and therefore were not provided to the Law Department nor plaintiffs,” Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s law department, said in an email. “Nevertheless, we are investigating why the existence of these documents was not discovered and disclosed sooner. If we find that such failure was intentional or negligent, we will take appropriate disciplinary action.”

Attorneys for both sides appeared Thursday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox, who told city lawyers their odds of avoiding fees is “slim to none” if the allegations turn out to be true. Then she raised another question:

“Are you convinced that you have everything from your client?” Cox asked three lawyers representing the city and the police officers.

One lawyer representing the officers pointed out that Kelly’s 2014 shooting occurred after the 2013 tasering of Granich’s client. Cox gave lawyers for the city a week to turn everything over.

Former federal prosecutor Dan Webb was tapped in January to lead a third-party review of the city’s law department after a senior attorney resigned in disgrace for concealing evidence in another police-shooting case.

Granich’s clients were found not guilty after a bench trial in October, records show. Turner had been charged with resisting arrest. Green, her fiance, was charged with aggravated assault of an officer.

The April 7, 2014, shooting Granich said Kelly was involved in was eventually ruled justified by IPRA. Records show police first encountered Hernandez on the front porch of a house in the 2500 block of West 50th Street, where he was holding a 2-year-old child and a backpack he claimed held a 9mm pistol.

Someone eventually wrestled the child away from Hernandez, but Hernandez later retreated into the house, punctured his throat with a small knife and then pointed a larger knife — with a 10-to-12-inch blade — at officers as he stepped toward them. That’s when he was tasered and shot 13 times, according to an IPRA report.

Kelly is also the subject of another lawsuit at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, alleging that after visiting multiple bars one night in January 2010, Michael D. LaPorta joined Kelly at Kelly’s home. That’s when Kelly’s service weapon allegedly discharged and fired a bullet into the back of LaPorta’s head, leaving him disabled.

The details of that incident are “as blurry as the alcohol-fueled evening” that preceded it, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber once wrote.

Though Kelly was initially charged with assault in that case, records show the charge was later dismissed. A filing in federal court Wednesday indicates a criminal investigation has since been reopened “focusing on whether Officer Patrick Kelly shot Michael LaPorta.”

Kelly’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, declined Thursday to comment while the investigation is pending.

Records in that case also indicate Kelly “has a long history of complaints for excessive force and other misconduct.”