Preventable Victimization and Inside-Outside Homicides

Megan Twohey’s recent expose on Bruce Smith, a Chicago-area gynecologist accused multiple times of sexual assault, and the absolute disregard for those allegations from the criminal justice system has produced some justice.  It was not until after the expose that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) sought a DNA sample from Smith to match to a sample taken from the body of one of Smith’s victims, some eight years after it was collected.  It is inconceivable that anyone could believe that the system takes sexual assault seriously when it so completely ignored a credible allegation.  As a result of Twohey’s work Smith was finally asked to produce a DNA sample and Thursday was arrested and formally charged with sexual assault after his sample matched the sample taken from the victim’s body eight years ago.

Chicago Tribune LogoWhile is seems like justice was finally done, and it may have been, I cannot stop thinking about how many victims could have been spared their victimization had the police and prosecutors done their job in the first place.  It would be nice to know the job status of the cops and prosecutors who did not do their jobs, wouldn’t it?  Both the CPD & the SAO should immediately release the names, titles, work assignments, and work histories of each of the officers and prosecutors that failed to do their job.  This will inform the public and allow the citizens about the possible impact these officers and prosecutors may have had on our criminal justice system in Chicago & Cook County.

Here is a short list of the investigations that must be completed in the most transparent fashion possible as a result of what Twohey uncovered:

  • A full investigation to determine if the officers and prosecutors involved should keep their jobs.
  • A full investigation to determine what if any additional cases are sitting in the work history of these officers and prosecutors waiting for DNA testing that have been ignored.
  • A full investigation needs to be completed throughout the entire CPD and SAO files to determine if what these officers and prosecutors did is part of a much larger pattern within the agencies.

Inside v. Outside in the battle for “What is a preventable homicide”

Recently Superintendent Weis called for a new way of categorizing homicides – inside homicides: which the CPD cannot prevent, and outside homicides: which the CPD should have some role in preventing.   Well, interesting take but it would have been better had this line been fed to the Superintendent from someone other than Mike Masters – his chief of staff who has never been a cop, or the Mayor’s Office.  Regardless of where the homicide occurs the only way to know if it could of or should have been prevented by the police is to look at the details of each homicide.  With the level of restrictions placed on access to data from the CPD it would be impossible to review the data to determine which homicides could have been impacted by the CPD.

Below you will find a letter to the editor from Dawn Dalton the Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.  Our great media in Chicago never published this letter.  Despite Megan Twohey’s work, the media seems to continue to disregard domestic violence and sexual assault.  I provide the letter for your reading pleasure. CMBWN Logo

To Prevent Murder Cops Need to Follow Domestic Violence Protocol

On May 18th Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis talked about creating a new category of homicides-he wants to make the distinction between indoor and outdoor murders.

Superintendent Weis believes the police department can prevent “outdoor” homicides, but when murder happens inside, “it’s hard for police to have an impact on that”.  Weis says that he wishes CPD could prevent homicides that happen indoors but he just does not see how his officers can do that.

What the public might not realize is Chicago Police have been told precisely how they can prevent “indoor” homicides.  Consider the brutal murder of Ronyale White in May 2002.  White was a victim of domestic violence who had an order of protection against her husband.   The night she died White called 911 no less than four times to report that her husband was threatening her with a gun and she feared for her life.

When two Chicago Police officers were sent to the scene they chose not to enter the residence or conduct any investigation of White’s repeated calls for help.  According to the Illinois Supreme Court, that “willful and wanton act” by Chicago Police failed to prevent the murder of Ronyale White.  The courts ruling forced the city of Chicago to settle a lawsuit filed by White’s family for over $4 million.

Superintendent Weis should be well aware of the Ronyale White case and he should know that there are many situations where police can prevent “indoor” homicides.  In fact, he needs to look at how domestic-related calls to 911 (OEMC) are handled.  His department reports that OEMC receives over 200,000 domestic-related calls every year-that’s more domestic calls than any other kind of calls to 911.

Weis’ office acknowledges that over the past four years only 30% of those calls resulted in officers filing a report.  The Superintendent needs to do more than just train officers on how to respond to domestic violence.  He can start by examining how closely police are following the Chicago Response Protocol-the mandate for how cops should deal with domestic calls.  Had the Protocol been followed, police could have prevented Ronyale White’s murder.

Weis needs to hold cops accountable for following the protocol.  Maybe his department can make an impact on “indoor” murders if they pay closer attention to how they handle domestic violence.  Instead of re-categorizing murders as indoors or outdoors we encourage him to take a proactive stand against domestic violence because he knows it can lead to homicide.

There are many victims of domestic violence whose lives depend on the Superintendent’s commitment to ensuring cops follow the protocol.

Dawn Dalton
Executive Director
Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network

Justice for Riley?

Riley Fox Wanted PosterI have written twice previously on this and I doubt this will be the last time I address the case of murdered 3-year-old Riley Fox.  You can find previous posts in the pull out.  Police officials announced on Friday that they have arrested a man serving time in IDOC for another sexual assault for the sexual assault and murder of Riley.  For those unfamiliar with the case police forced a confession for this crime from Riley’s father after a coercive interrogation.

Prior Posts on Riley Fox Case

In announcing the arrest of Scott Eby, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow informed us that Eby was serving time for the sexual assault of a relative that occurred after he assaulted & murdered Riley.  Glasgow did not offer an apology to the relative that was assaulted by Eby; I think one might have been due.  If you consider the time line the assault of the relative would not have happened had they caught Eby within months of assault and murder of Riley.  Instead a case was manufactured against her father, a confession was coerced, and a DNA test was halted.  Kevin served 10 months in jail awaiting trial while authorities stopped looking for other suspects and allowed the real perpetrator to continue to victimize others.  Simply put – when a false confession is coerced from a suspect more than just the suspect is hurt – the whole community suffers as a violent and abusive predator continues to find others to victimize.

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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