Two Chicago cops who were caught on video beating an ex-con at a late-night restaurant on the Northwest Side in 2006 have resigned a week before they faced the prospect of being fired.
Officers Jason Orsa and Brian Murphy resigned from the Chicago Police Department as of Dec. 1, according to department spokesman Frank Giancamilli.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Chicago Sun-Times, released security surveillance videos in August of the March 24, 2006, assault at the Taco Burrito King restaurant at Harlem Avenue and Higgins Road.
The videos show Murphy, then 24, jumping up from his table with his gun drawn on Obed DeLeon and ramming DeLeon into a wall.
Orsa, then 26, joins Murphy and Murphy’s friend Matthew Walsh, a Marine, in repeatedly punching and kicking DeLeon, then 22, according to the videos and court records.
A third off-duty cop who was eating with them, Daniel McNamara, then 28, appears to be trying to keep others in the restaurant away from the altercation.
McNamara — whose father also was a cop, as is his brother — got an 18-month suspension because the city was unable to prove he punched or kicked DeLeon, according to an August ruling by the Illinois Appellate Court. McNamara has served that suspension.
In 2009, the city’s Independent Police Review Authority concluded its investigation, and in 2010, then-police Supt. Jody Weis moved to fire Orsa and Murphy, the Sun-Times has reported.
The following year, the Chicago Police Board agreed with Weis and fired the pair.
But they went to court, and, in 2012, Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen Pantle overturned the board’s decision, saying, “The videotape and other evidence clearly support Murphy and Orsa and their witnesses’ recollection of events.”
Pantle also criticized the police department for taking so long to investigate, saying the delay made it harder to contact witnesses who might have supported the officers’ claims that DeLeon had threatened them.
In sworn testimony supported by two restaurant patrons, DeLeon said he never threatened the cops but just walked in complaining that someone had left a car blocking the entrance to the restaurant’s parking lot.
Last month, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Pantle’s decision.
“Our careful and close review of the video leaves us puzzled by the circuit court’s rejection of the board’s . . . true and correct findings,” Justice Michael B. Hyman wrote. “We cannot ignore an even more troubling aspect of this case — the inherently improbable character of the officers’ defense, which largely relied on stirring prejudices by suggesting that DeLeon’s conduct was gang-related.”
The video doesn’t have sound. The police officers and Walsh said DeLeon yelled “cobra love,” a reference to the Spanish Cobras street gang, and said he was a “cop killer” ready to “cap someone,” according to court records.
Orsa, whose father was a cop, and Murphy were stripped of their police powers in August, though they remained on the city payroll.
Their resignations came a week before the Chicago Police Board’s monthly meeting, at which the board could have moved to fire them again.
Contributing: Tim Novak and Chris Fusco