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Former Cop Backs Off Claims In Burge Trial Testimony

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 15, 2010 3:40PM

In testimony yesterday at the trial of former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, former Chicago Police Sgt. Michael McDermott backed off claims he had previously made in grand jury testimony. Described by John Conroy - covering the trial for Vocalo - as "reluctant," McDermott backed off claims that he had seen Burge point a gun at the head of Shadeed Mu’min and put a clear typewriter cover in front of Mu'min's face to suffocate him. McDermott, who received immunity in exchanged for his testimony, insisted he was clarifying his earlier testimony. From Carol Marin and Don Moseley at NBC 5:

"I've changed my mind about this," McDermott said. "I don't think there was abuse in any way." That's when prosecutor April Perry pounced. McDermott's 2008 grand jury testimony was read forcefully read back to him: "Didn’t you say you saw Burge point a gun at Mu’min? Didn’t you say you saw plastic put over Mu’min’s head? Didn’t you testify to that under oath?"

McDermott said he has since rethought his grand jury testimony. But he also admitted lying during past torture investigations. On Monday, he said what he witnessed was not abuse, but inappropriate police procedures.

McDermott detailed pressure he felt at potentially losing his pension and his current job as a Cook County State's Attorney's Office investigator because of his testimony. Burge's defense took a "confrontational" approach to McDermott, trying to use his testimony as a means of showing he was giving prosecutors what they wanted to protect himself.