After 29 disciplinary investigations, multiple suspensions and four arrests by his own department, Richard A. Rizzo has been fired as a Chicago cop.
The Chicago Police Board voted 8-0 Thursday night to fire Rizzo for failing to secure his police 9mm Ruger handgun on Dec. 2, 2012, when his girlfriend threw the weapon onto Cicero Avenue during an argument at a gas station in Burbank after a Toys for Tots motorcycle parade.
Rizzo’s lengthy disciplinary record and rap sheet also played a role in his firing, according to police board records released Friday.
Rizzo’s “disregard for public safety, taken together with his four previous disciplinary suspensions (one-day, ten-day and thirty-day suspensions) for off-duty domestic altercations, and a fifteen-day suspension for insubordination), are sufficiently serious to constitute a substantial shortcoming that renders his continuance in his office detrimental to the discipline and efficiency of the Chicago Police Department,” wrote Fredrick Bates, a police board hearing officer.
Rizzo, 46, couldn’t be reached for comment.
He didn’t attend two police board hearings on the case, so he never mounted a defense.
Between 2005 and 2011, Rizzo was arrested four times on charges including battery, aggravated assault with a handgun and child endangerment. But the police department never attempted to fire him. Instead, police superintendents Phil Cline and Garry McCarthy suspended Rizzo between one and 30 days for various infractions.
McCarthy finally moved to fire Rizzo after the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Rizzo’s run-ins with the law as part of the newspaper’s “Tarnished Badges” investigation, which began in the summer of 2013.
McCarthy filed for his dismissal in October 2014, stripping Rizzo of his police powers and placing him on desk duty.
Rizzo was paid $64,694 by the department last year, records show.
Beside his arrests, Rizzo also was investigated for other incidents, including one in 2001 in which a felon died of a drug overdose while sleeping on a couch in an apartment Rizzo shared.
Then, in 2009, Rizzo reported to the police that someone had stolen his 2008 Dodge — and two handguns, his hat shield and body armor, all of which had been left in the car. Investigators determined that, rather than being stolen, the car had been repossessed; Rizzo was suspended three days for failing to secure his guns and hat shield.
In December 2010, Rizzo was arrested for aggravated assault with a gun and domestic battery after a fight with a 40-year-old man and the man’s 18-year-old son, who lived with Rizzo in a Garfield Ridge bungalow. According to police reports, Rizzo punched the older man, grabbed the gun, put the muzzle to his eye and said, “How about I shoot you in the face?”
The department stripped Rizzo of his police powers on Jan. 11, 2011, but he was returned to active duty on Oct. 6, 2012. Prosecutors dropped the charges against him, and Rizzo got a 30-day suspension from McCarthy.
The Dec 2, 2012, incident that led to Rizzo’s firing involved his fiancée grabbing his police handgun from his motorcycle’s storage bin at a gas station at 79th and Cicero and throwing it onto the street. She then ran into the street, grabbed the gun, brought it back to the gas station and stepped on it when Rizzo tried to retrieve it. A customer at the gas station picked up the gun and handed it back to Rizzo.
Rizzo “put the public at risk by failing to secure his firearm, which ended up being thrown on the ground,” wrote Bates, the police board hearing officer.