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CPD officer probed in Special Operations Section scandal sues for back pay

Two legal scholars — one from Northwestern University and the other from the University of Chicago — found that “for the worst 5 percent [of officers], there was a clear relationship between allegations and litigation.” | Sun-Times file photo

A Chicago police officer who was suspended and later placed on desk duty after becoming embroiled in a scandal that rocked the department over a decade ago has sued the city of Chicago in federal court seeking back pay and claiming he hasn’t been granted an administrative hearing to clear his name.

In September 2006, Thomas W. Sherry was a member of the police department’s now-defunct Special Operations Section when he and other officers were charged in Cook County Circuit Court with a list of felonies, including armed violence, home invasion, residential burglary and aggravated kidnapping, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.

Thomas Sherry leaves the Leighton Criminal Courts Building after charges against him were dropped in 2009. | Sun-Times file photo
Thomas Sherry leaves the Leighton Criminal Courts Building after charges against him were dropped in 2009. | Sun-Times file photo

After his arrest, Sherry was stripped of his police powers and suspended without pay until the charges against him were dropped in February 2009. During that time, CPD also made him hand over three semiautomatic pistols.

Eleven officers were ultimately convicted in connection with the scandal.

After Sherry’s charges were dropped, he was placed on desk duty and forbidden from carrying a gun, restrictions that remain in place, the suit claims.

Sherry says CPD’s Office of Internal Affairs has never tried to interview him since the charges were dropped, and that the department has failed to give him a list of the charges and allegations against him, the suit claims.

He is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay for the time he was suspended, as well as damages related to the “emotional distress, anxiety and humiliation” he has been subjected to. He also wants the department to return the weapons that were “wrongly confiscated” from him over a decade ago, one of which has already been destroyed, the suit says.

Perhaps most importantly, Sherry wants the city to grant him a “name-clearing” hearing or return him to “full duty with no restrictions,” the suit says.

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department, declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Sherry’s attorney, Paul Geiger, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.