FOIA: Muhammad FOIA to Office of the Mayor

Below is CJP’s FOIA in the Sgt. Khalil Muhammad case to the Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office in his unjustified shooting, and subsequent murder, of Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes in the Chicago’s Morgan Park Neighborhood back in August of 2017.

This is part of a series of FOIAs that the Chicago Justice Project is filing to shed light on the highly questionable mediation of his pending termination case in front of the Chicago Police Board that resulted in a plea agreement of a 180 day suspension rather than termination. As we file the subsequent FOIAs we will be posting links. Also we will be posting responses we get from the agencies. You can find links to all of our FOIAs in in this case here.

Below is the content of our FOIA we filed with the Office of the Mayor on 2/18/2020.

In accordance with Definitions and Instructions below and the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140, I request that your office provide the following public records: 

1. All video and audio recordings of any kind of Sgt. Khalil Muhammad’s Aug. 13, 2017 off-duty shooting of unarmed teenager Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes in the Morgan Park neighborhood of Chicago (the “Incident”) –Board Case # 19 PB 2956.  Without limiting the scope of this FOIA request in any way, the response to this request should include at a minimum all of the following:

a. Electronic recordings from cell phones

b. Electronic recordings from nearby security cameras collected by Police as evidence or otherwise

c. Bodycam footage from Muhammad.

d. Surveillance video showing Muhammad driving past Hayes without stopping.

e. Video of the Incident reviewed by any members of the Board.

f. Video of the Incident reviewed by any hearing officers employed by the Board.

2. All documents regarding the “Incident”.  Without limiting the scope of this FOIA request in any way, the response to this request should include at a minimum all of the following:

a. Police reports regarding the Incident.

b. Statements regarding the Incident.

c. Evidence reviewed or considered by members of the Board regarding the Incident.

d. Evidence reviewed or considered by any hearing officers employed by the Board regarding the Incident.

e. Evidence in the Record of Proceedings before the Board.

f. The “stipulation” filed by the City with the Board in October, 2019, including all 11 exhibits to same.

3. Any documents or motions field by the City with the Board regarding the Incident.

4. Any charges filed by the City with the Board regarding the Incident.

5. Any final decisions handed down by the Board regarding the Incident. All documents regarding the “Plea Agreement”.

6. All documents regarding the Board’s decision not to fire Muhammad.

7. All documents regarding the Board’s decision that Muhammad’s use of deadly force was unjustified.

8. The transcript and/or any notes or recordings (or documents reflecting) Muhammad’s statement(s) about the Incident.  Without limiting the scope of this FOIA request in any way, the response to this request should include at a minimum all of the following:

a. Muhammad’s statement(s) to the Police.

b. Muhammad’s statement(s) to COPA.

9. COPA’s summary and findings about the Incident.

10. All documents (including electronic documents and communications) referring, regarding or relating to Hayes, the Incident, the Plea Agreement, negotiation of the Plea Agreement, COPAs decision or analysis of the Incident, and/or the Board’s decision or analysis of the Incident, including drafts thereof.

11. Communications, including but limited to electronic communications and summaries of same (email, text, instant messaging of any kind, voicemail, etc.) to or from the Police Board or any member of the Police Board regarding the Incident, the Plea Agreement, the Board’s decision not to fire Muhammad, and/or the Board’s decision that Muhammad’s use of deadly force was unjustified.  Without limiting the scope of this FOIA request in any way, the response to this request should include at a minimum all of the following:

a. electronic communications to or from COPA regarding the topics included above;

b. electronic communications to or from the Mayor’s Office or anyone from the Mayor’s Office or offices regarding the topics included above;

c. electronic communications to or from the CPD regarding the topics included above;

d. electronic communications to or from amongst Police Board members regarding the topics included above; and/or

e. communications of any kind to or from anyone related to the bad publicity the Board’s decision received after it was made public.

10. All policies, procedures, regulations, guidelines, rules, protocols, legislation, ordinances, or laws (official or unofficial, binding or non-binding) that guide, authorize, explain or detail the Board’s practices related to whether and when to accept a settlement agreement between the City of Chicago or any of its departments and police officers who are currently or reasonably believe they will be subject to review by the Board in current or future proceedings.

DEFINITIONS
“Document” and/or “Documents” means any documents or electronically stored information of any kind—including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations—stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form.

The “Incident” means Sgt. Khalil Muhammad’s Aug. 13, 2017 off-duty shooting of unarmed teenager Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes in the Morgan Park neighborhood of Chicago. The Incident is the basis for Chicago Police Board Case # 19 PB 2956.

“Muhammad” means Police Sgt. Khalil Muhammad.

Hayes means Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes

The “Analysis” means the analysis of Muhammad’s statement and the Incident by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

“COPA” means the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

“Johnson” means ex-Superintendent of Police Eddie Johnson.

The “Plea Agreement” means Muhammad’s plea agreement with the State’s Attorney’s Office in which, according to news reports, Muhammad admitted that the 2017 shooting was “without lawful justification” in exchange for a 180-day suspension.

Emanuel means ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Lightfoot means Mayor Lightfoot.

The “Board” means the Police Board. This includes, individually and collectively, President Ghian Foreman and Vice President Paula Wolff as well as Matthew C. Crowl, Eva-Dina Delgado, Steve Flores, John P. O’Malley Jr., Andrea L. Zopp, Rev. Michael Eaddy and Rhoda D. Sweeney.

INSTRUCTIONS
If the agency withholds any document or information pertinent to the requests made herein, please identify the document or information in as much detail as is possible, and detail in specific language why each document or piece of information is being withheld.

If any information requested herein is withheld on the basis of a claim of privilege or other protection as material prepared in anticipation of litigation or trial, then that claim shall be made expressly in a writing that describes the nature of the Documents, Communications, or Things not produced or disclosed in a manner that will enable us to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection. With regard to each claim of privilege or protection, the following information should be provided in the response or the objection:

(a) the type of Document, e.g., letter or memorandum;

(b) general subject matter of the Document;

(c) the date of the Document;

(d) such other information as is sufficient to identify the Document for a subpoena duces tecum, including, where appropriate, the author, addressee, and any other recipient of the Document, and, where not apparent, the relationship of the author, addressee, and any other recipient to each other; and

(e) the nature of the privilege or protection;

(f) if applicable, the litigation or trial of which he document was created in anticipation.

If any Document identified herein has been lost, discarded, or destroyed, each such Document should be identified as completely as possible, including as to each such Document, its date, general nature (e.g., letter, memorandum, telegram, telex, photograph, computer printout), subject matter, each author or originator, each person indicated as an addressee or copy recipient, and its former custodian(s). In addition, as to each such Document, the following information shall be supplied:

(a) date of disposal, loss, or destruction;

(b) manner of disposal, loss, or destruction;

(c) reason for disposal or destruction, or any explanation of loss;

(d) persons authorizing the disposal or destruction;

(e) persons having knowledge of the disposal, destruction, or loss; and

(f) persons who destroyed, lost, or disposed or the Document or Thing.

I look forward to hearing from you in writing within five working days, as required by the Act 5 ILCS 140(3).  Please direct all questions or responses to this FOIA request to this email address by responding to this email. 

Updates on FOIA to the Office of the Mayor

2/25 – “Except for emails as explained below, the Mayor’s Office has no responsive records.

To the extent your request seeks emails from Mayor’s Office employees, your request is unduly burdensome.  Section 3(g) of FOIA provides that “requests for all records falling within a category shall be complied with unless compliance with the request would be unduly burdensome for the complying public body and there is no way to narrow the request and the burden on the public body outweighs the public interest in the information.”

In order to effectively run an email search, the Mayor’s Office needs the following search parameters: (1) the e-mail address(es) or employee name(s) of the account(s) you wish searched; (2) key words you wish to search for; and (3) the timeframe to be searched.  Without search parameters, the Mayor’s Office would need to review all department emails to determine whether any are responsive to your request.  Such an undertaking would pose an immense burden on the department.

It is necessary that your FOIA request be narrowed and clarified.  If you would like assistance in narrowing your request, please contact me, and I will assist you. I can assist you in drafting parameters to run an email search of Mayor’s Office employees. Otherwise, for the reasons provided above, the Mayor’s Office is unable to respond to your FOIA request as currently drafted.

If you agree to narrow your request, you must submit a revised written request to my attention. The Mayor’s Office will take no further action or send you any further correspondence unless and until your current request is narrowed in writing.  If we do not receive your narrowed request within fourteen calendar days of the date of this letter, your current request will be denied.

In the event that we do not receive a narrowed request and your current FOIA request is therefore denied, you have the right to have a denial reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, 500 S. 2nd Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706, (877) 299-3642. You also have the right to seek judicial review of your denial by filing a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court.”

Here is CJP’s Repsonse:

2/26 – Tom,

Custodians:

  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel
  • Walter Katz
  • Joe Deal
  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot
  • Maurice Classen
  • Susan Lee

Time frame: Aug 12, 2017 – 2/25/20

Keywords:

  • Sgt. Khalil Muhammad
  • Sergeant Khalil Muhammad
  • Sgt. Muhammad
  • Sergeant Muhammad
  • Officer Khalil Muhammad
  • Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes
  • Ricardo Hayes
  • Hayes shooting
  • Muhammad shooting
  • Settlement
  • Plea Deal
  • Arrangement
  • Chicago Police Board
  • Citizen Office for Police Accountability
  • COPA
  • Office involved shooting
  • Police shooting
  • CPD Shooting
  • Chicago Police Department Shooting
  • Morgan Park shooting
  • Suspension
  • 90 day suspension
  • 180 day suspension
  • Termination
  • Sydney Roberts
  • Karlo Flowers
  • Kevin Connor
  • @chicagocopa.org
  • Ghian Foreman
  • Paula Wolff
  • Matthew C. Crowl
  • Rev. Michael Eaddy
  • Steve Flores
  • Jorge Montes
  • John P. O’Malley Jr.
  • Rhoda D. Sweeney
  • Andrea Zopp
  • Max Caproni

3/5 – Dear Mr. Siska:

On behalf of the City of Chicago Office of the Mayor (“Mayor’s Office”), I am responding to your three Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests dated February 26, 2020 and received in our offices on the same day. You requested:

Requesting an email search with: Custodians: Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Walter Katz; Joe Deal; Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Maurice Classen; Susan Lee

Timeframe:      Aug 12, 2017 – 2/25/20

Keywords:  “Sgt. Khalil Muhammad” “Sergeant Khalil Muhammad” “Sgt. Muhammad” “Sergeant Muhammad” “Officer Khalil Muhammad” “Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes” “Ricardo Hayes” “Hayes shooting” “Muhammad shooting” “Settlement”  “Plea Deal” “Arrangement”  “Chicago Police Board” “Citizen Office for Police Accountability “COPA” “Office involved shooting” “Police shooting” “CPD Shooting” “Chicago Police Department Shooting” “Morgan Park shooting” “Suspension” “90 day suspension” “180 day suspension” “Termination” “Sydney Roberts” “Karlo Flowers” “Kevin Connor” “@chicagocopa.org” “Ghian Foreman” “Paula Wolff” “Matthew C. Crowl” “Rev. Michael Eaddy” “Steve Flores” “Jorge Montes” “John P. O’Malley Jr.” “Rhoda D. Sweeney” “Andrea Zopp” “Max Caproni”

Your request is unduly burdensome under Section 3(g) of FOIA.  Section 3(g) of FOIA provides that “requests for all records falling within a category shall be complied with unless compliance with the request would be unduly burdensome for the complying public body and there is no way to narrow the request and the burden on the public body outweighs the public interest in the information.”

We ran the email search you requested above; however, there are over 30,700 items responsive to your request.  In order to produce the items responsive to your request, the Mayor’s Office would have to review each item for exempt material.  Even assuming it would only take 1 minute on average to review each item, it would take over 511 hours to respond to your request.  This is a very conservative estimate of the amount of time it would take to respond to this request, and it is very likely that the actual time would be higher.  Additionally, there are varying levels of public interest in the information responsive to this request.  Overall, the burden the request places on the Mayor’s Office outweighs the public interest in the information sought, and the request is unduly burdensome under Section 3(g) of FOIA.

It is necessary that your FOIA request be narrowed and clarified.  If you would like assistance in narrowing your request, please contact me, and I will assist you.  I can provide you with more information about the number of records responsive to each search term. Otherwise, for the reasons provided above, the Mayor’s Office is unable to respond to your FOIA request as currently drafted.

If you agree to narrow your request, you must submit a revised written request to my attention. The Law Department will take no further action or send you any further correspondence unless and until your current request is narrowed in writing.  If we do not receive your narrowed request within fourteen calendar days of the date of this letter, your current request will be denied.

In the event that we do not receive a narrowed request and your current FOIA request is therefore denied, you have the right to have a denial reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, 500 S. 2nd Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706, (877) 299-3642. You also have the right to seek judicial review of your denial by filing a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court.

Sincerely,

Tom Skelton

FOIA Officer – Mayor’s Office

3/5 – Response from CJP

Tom,

Please provide us with the number of items returned for each search term or phrase so we can consider narrowing the request. Your response as framed provides us no real information for which to make a decision on which terms, if any, we should remove from our request.

Tracy

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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