Officer William Cozzi & the Chicago Police Board

The Chicago Justice Project (CJP) is dedicated to increasing the public’s access to criminal justice related information. To that end, CJP has used Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies of all the publicly accessible documents involved in the hearings held by the Chicago Police Board (CPB) in the Cozzi case. To find copies in PDF format of all the documents please visit our FOI Center.

It is alleged that on August 2, 2005 Chicago Police Officer William Cozzi beat Randle Miles in the head several times with an object that was not police issued. A videotape of the incident has been replayed dozens of times recently on the nightly news. This incident has resurfaced because Cozzi is due to be back with the Chicago Police in a few weeks after the expiration of his two-year suspension. Superintendent Phil Cline moved to fire Cozzi, but the Chicago Police Board overruled that decision and instead suspended Cozzi for two years.

Few people in Chicago have a working knowledge of this rather secretive agency due to the convoluted disciplinary process detailed in the collective bargaining agreement between the City and the union representing the officers, the Fraternal Order of Police. The CPB holds hearings that mimic trials in civil or criminal courts in Cook County. The hearing is presided over by a hearing officer. Each side is able to call witnesses and bring evidence forth in support of their arguments. There is a detailed transcript produced of the proceedings along with a video and audio recording. The members of the CPB that sit in judgment of the officer do not attend the proceedings. They are forwarded a transcript, copies of any exhibits filed with the hearing officer, and a copy of the audio/video recording of the hearing. The deliberations of the CPB and the reasons for their decisions are secret.

Cozzi beat an elderly man who was cuffed to a wheel chair in the head several times with a club of some sort. He was violating police policy just by carrying the non-issued weapon. He violated police policy by using the weapon. He committed a serious crime by beating a man about his head with a non-issued club. He then filed a false police report to attempt to cover up his crimes. The Chicago Police Board found Cozzi guilty on all of the above charges yet they only suspended him. All the letters of support and all the honorable mentions Cozzi received persuaded the board that Cozzi deserved a second chance.

There are nine members of the CPB. Of these nine members eight voted in the Cozzi case. The vote went 6-2 in favor of the suspension. The vote by member was as follows:

 

Name.……………………….Position.……………..Vote……………………………..Status of Term

Demetrius Carney………..President…………….Termination……………………..Aug-09

Scott Davis…………………Vice President………Termination……………………..Aug-08

Phyllis Apelbaum…………………………………… No vote recorded……………..Expired

Patricia Bobb………………………………………….Suspension………………………Expired

Arthur Smith………………………………………….Suspension………………………Expired

Dr. William Kirkling…………………………………Suspension………………………Aug-08

Rev. Johnny Miller…………………………………..Suspension………………………Aug-08

Victor Gonzales………………………………………Suspension………………………Aug-09

George Velcich……………………………………….Suspension………………………Aug-09

 

The members are appointed by the Mayor and need to be confirmed by the Chicago City Council. Each member is appointed to a term of five years or “until their respective successors are appointed and qualified”. As with all the appointments of Mayor Daley, they are mired in politics and patronage. It is important that we persuade the members of the police board to go public with the reasoning behind their votes. Also, we need to make sure that the process for the appointment of new members is as transparent as possible. ______________________________________
Below is a list of the charges that were brought against Cozzi in front of the Chicago Police Board. They are the charges for which he was found guilty though not terminated.
1. Police Office William J. Cozzi, Star Number 4129 is charged with violating Rule 1, “Violation of any law or ordinance,” in one or more of the following instances:

Count I: Committed the offense of Aggravated Battery in that he intentionally or knowing without legal justification caused bodily harm to Randle Miles by striking Randle Miles about the head and/or body with a “blackjack,” and/or “fat sap,” and/or bludgeon:

Count II: Committed the offense of Aggravated Battery in that he, intentionally or knowingly without legal justification caused bodily harm to Randle Miles by striking Randle Miles about the head and/or body while Randle Miles was on or about a public way, public property, or public place of accommodation.

Count III: Committed the offense of Battery in that he intentionally or knowing without legal justification caused bodily harm to Randle Miles by striking Randle Miles about the head and/or body.

Count IV: Committed the offense of Battery in that he intentionally or knowing without legal justification made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with Randle Miles by striking Randle Miles about the head and/or body.

2. Police Officer William J. Cozzi, Star Number 4129, is charged with violating Rule 2, “any action or conduct with impeded the Department’s efforts to achieve is policy and goals or brings discredit upon the Department,” in one or more of the following instances:

Count I: Struck Randle Miles about the head and/or body with a “blackjack” and/or “flat sap”, and or bludgeon. Count II: While on duty used an/or was in possession of a weapon that is not prescribed by the Chicago Police Department.

Count III: Generated one or more reports containing false information concerning his arrest of Randle Miles.

3. Police Officer William J. Cozzi, Star Number 4129, is charged with violating Rule 6, “Disobedience of an order or directive, whether written or oral,” in the following instances: While on duty, used and/or was in possession of a weapon not prescribed by the Chicago Police Department

4. Police Officer William J. Cozzi, Star Number 4129, is charged with violating Rule 8, “disrespect to or maltreatment of any person while on or off duty,” in one of more of the following instances: Stuck Randle Miles bout his head and/or body with a “blackjack,” and/or “flat sap,” and/or bludgeon.

5. Police Officer William J. Cozzi, Star Number 4129, is charged with violating Rule 9, “engaging in any unjustified verbal or physical altercation with any person while on or off duty,” in one of more of the following instances: Stuck Randle Miles bout his head and/or body with a “blackjack,” and/or “flat sap,” and/or bludgeon.

6. Police Officer William J. Cozzi, Star Number 4129, is charged with violating Rule 14, “Making a false report, written or oral,” in one of more of the following instances: Generated one or ore reports containing false information concerning his arrest of Randle Miles.