IPRA investigator revealed sensitive info on police shooting to victim’s family, then sought attorney referral fee: IG
The investigator didn’t tell IPRA about having contact with the attorney service or the victim’s family, the inspector general said.
An investigator for the now-abolished Independent Police Review Authority was accused Thursday of concealing “material” information about a police shooting, improperly communicating sensitive details to the victim’s family and seeking a referral fee in exchange for connecting the family with an attorney.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s quarterly report says the shooting happened Nov. 23, 2016, but does not identify the investigator or the shooting victim. The date coincides with the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Kajaun Raye near 65th Street and Marshfield Avenue in West Englewood.
“A responding Chicago Police Department officer provided sensitive information, such as the potential location of the weapon, as well as photographs, to the then-investigator regarding the shooting,” the inspector general’s report states.
“On the same date, the investigator provided the victim’s home address to an acquaintance at the National Attorney Referral Service, then arranged and attended a meeting between that representative, an attorney and the victim’s family.”
The investigator “never informed anyone” at IPRA of contact with the attorney service or the victim’s family, “waited four days” to inform IPRA of the material information received from the police officer and “repeatedly called” the victim’s family during the investigation, the report states.
The investigator also “lied or omitted material information in statements to IPRA, the FBI” and the inspector general’s office.
The accused IPRA investigator subsequently went to work as a civilian employee of the Police Department but was fired and placed on a do-not-hire list at Ferguson’s request.
A source told the Sun-Times that the former investigator in question is Kelvin Lett.
Lett previously filed a federal lawsuit against IPRA, alleging that he was ordered to find a police shooting was unjustified.
Lett’s lawsuit alleged that in June 2016, Sharon Fairley, IPRA’s former chief administrator, ordered him “to alter his reports so as to lie about his findings on a particular case regarding an officer-involved shooting of a civilian.”
He claimed Fairley said “he had to have a more ‘devious mind’ to do this job and that he needed to lie about his findings in such a way to reflect that the officer shooting was unjustified.”
The lawsuit was dismissed last year.
Police Sgt. John Poulos has said Raye pointed a gun at him before the officer opened fire. Raye died of a single gunshot wound to the back.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which replaced IPRA, has ruled the shooting justified, even though three months passed before any gun was found.
Raye’s social media activity factored into its conclusion.
After obtaining warrants to search Raye’s social media accounts, COPA found that a day before the shooting Raye sent a photo to another person that appeared to show a Kahr Arms CW40 pistol — the same type of gun eventually recovered by police.
Raye’s mother has branded COPA’s findings as “bulls---” and filed a lawsuit against the city and Poulos.
In a court filing earlier this month, the mother acknowledged her son was armed with a Kahr Arms CW40 pistol but said ballistics analyses show it was in his jacket when he was shot.
Raye’s mother said experts retained by her and the city agree the fatal bullet “entered the victim from his back, traveled through his body and encountered the Kahr firearm that was located in the breast pocket of the Pelle Pelle jacket.”
The lawsuit filed by Raye’s estate is set to go to trial next month.
Raye was the second person shot to death by Poulos, who was promoted to sergeant after a recommendation from former First Deputy Supt. Kevin Navarro in February 2016.
Poulos fatally shot a suspected burglar near a former Lincoln Park bar owned by he and his family in 2013. The man was unarmed, and Poulos was cleared in the shooting.
However, in 2004, the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau opened an investigation into Poulos’ ownership in the now-closed bar. Owning an establishment that sells alcohol is prohibited and could end with an officer’s firing; Poulos went on disability shortly after the internal affairs investigation started.
Investigators also looked at allegations Poulos had not disclosed he was arrested before applying to the department.
The investigation apparently went dormant because Poulos stayed off the job for another seven years, department sources previously told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson wanted Poulos terminated, but the Chicago Police Board dismissed the charges against Poulos.