City doubles down on stance against federal court oversight of CPD

SHARE City doubles down on stance against federal court oversight of CPD

Craig Futterman, clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, discusses a lawsuit seeking federal court oversight of the Chicago Police Department filed Wednesday, June 14, 2017. City attorneys have filed a motion to toss the suit. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

City attorneys have fired back against a class-action lawsuit seeking a federal court consent decree over Chicago Police Department reform, claiming federal oversight is unnecessary because the city has made its own “substantial and ongoing reforms.”

The 32-page motion to dismiss filed on Monday would seem to indicate that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no intentions of bowing to pressure to accept federal court oversight.

“[P]laintiffs’ injunctive relief claims are moot because the policies and practices that they seek to enjoin are no longer in place in light of CPD’s extensive, ongoing reform efforts,” the motion says.

Black Lives Matter Chicago and six additional community groups filed suit in June along with six individuals, on behalf of people who “have been, or in the future will be, subjected to use of force by the CPD.” The NAACP has also joined as a plaintiff in the suit.

They claim Chicago Police have engaged in a practice of excessive force against people of color, an argument supported by a Justice Department probe that found widespread constitutional violations in the department.

They accused Emanuel of reneging on his January commitment to negotiate a consent decree and, instead, of attempting to cut a “backroom deal” with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who opposes court oversight over local police departments. Fifteen Chicago Police officers were also named as defendants.

“The city of Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing,” their suit says.

In Monday’s motion, city attorneys asked U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee to toss the suit because the plaintiffs hadn’t shown “that they will be subjected to excessive force at the hands of a CPD officer in the future,” citing an overhauled set of use-of-force policies and training methods.

Emanuel and CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson have insisted that that city wants to take a different path toward the same reforms.

“CPD’s revisions to its use of force policies include an increased emphasis on the sanctity of life, ethical behavior, objective and proportional uses of force, and de-escalation and force mitigation, as well as the imposition of appropriate limitations on the use of less-than-lethal and lethal force,” the motion says.

The complaint details the police department’s troubled history, reaching all the way back to the “shoot to kill” orders during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and CPD’s 1969 execution of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.

City attorneys decried it as “rehashing” past events that are “not relevant to the use of force policies and practices currently in effect at CPD.”

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has led a chorus of groups calling on Emanuel to accept federal court oversight.

The case is next scheduled for a hearing on Sept. 1.

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