CHICAGO (AP) — Accusations that an officer called President Barack Obama a racial slur have prompted the agency that investigates police misconduct in Chicago to recommend that the city’s police department enact a policy that prohibits officers from engaging in any kind of discrimination.
The recommendation from the Independent Police Review Authority’s chief administrator, Sharon Fairley, came after the agency suggested firing the officer, who is accused of making the remark in October when Obama was in Chicago and officers were deciding who would work on the presidential detail. An offended officer filed the complaint with IPRA.
Meanwhile, in another case of alleged misconduct by a Chicago police officer, a suspect seen in a Facebook video choking an officer and then being kicked in the head by another officer during an arrest has been released without charges being filed.
Police say the man, who was identified by his lawyers as 23-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, was released Wednesday “pending further investigation.” A police spokesman said a day earlier that O’Neal was arrested Monday afternoon after officers chased him and found three bags of heroin on him.
Authorities haven’t given a reason for O’Neal’s release, and his attorney has refused to comment.
IPRA’s recommendation in the case of the officer accused of using the slur was included in a letter sent May 12 to police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. When Johnson didn’t reply within the requested 30 days, IPRA posted the letter on its website Tuesday evening, the Chicago Tribune reported (http://trib.in/1YrMSTh ).
Chicago police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. IPRA declined to name the officer, citing union rules.
The department’s human resources policy explicitly prohibits officers from exhibiting racial bias, but similar language is not included in the Standards of Conduct for CPD members.
The police department has been criticized for having a code of silence among its officers. In this case, Fairley said other officers “were not as forthcoming as they should be” about the remark when IPRA interviewed them.
“This is troubling,” Fairley said, adding that she asked the department to remind officers that they are obligated to be truthful.
In O’Neal’s case, Johnson placed the officer on desk duty after the video became public. IPRA is also investigating the incident.
During a news conference, attorney Michael Oppenheimer said not only disciplinary action, but also a criminal investigation of the officer should take place.
Oppenheimer said O’Neal, who declined to comment during the news conference, plans to file a federal civil lawsuit in the coming days.
Police originally had arrested O’Neal on suspicion of aggravated battery to a police officer and other charges, including drug possession.
O’Neal is on parole for a felony drug conviction, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com