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Burge Takes The Stand

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 18, 2010 2:20PM

In dramatic and occasionally emotional testimony yesterday, former Chicago Police commander Jon Burge took the stand in his own trial and denied he ever witnessed or condoned the torture of any suspects. As he denied a claim by former suspect Shadeed Mu’min that Burge played Russina roulette with a gun pointed at Mu’min's head, Burge said, "I may not be a Mensa candidate, but I'm not that stupid, sir." Talking about the Andrew Wilson case, Burge even teared up. From John Conroy reporting for Vocalo:

The most dramatic moment came when Burge suddenly started crying, seemingly out of the blue, when he was discussing the impending arrest of Andrew Wilson. Suddenly his face grew very red, he said, “Excuse me, sir,” and reached for tissues near the stand. He sniffled a few times as the court grew very quiet.

“Is this an emotional topic for you?” Martin asked.

“Very much so,” Burge said.

Under cross-examination from Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weisman, Burge became agitated, sparring with Weisman.

Choosing his words carefully, Burge said [retired police officer Michael] McDermott "appeared to be terribly distraught and under tremendous pressure" while testifying. "And that's because there's a code of silence in the Chicago Police Department — you've heard of the code of silence?" Weisman asked.

"Yeah, I've heard it from a bottom-feeding lawyer," snapped Burge, prompting laughter from spectators in the packed courtroom.

"OK, I've been called worse," Weisman said as Burge tried to recover.

"I was not referring to you," he told the prosecutor. "I believe you're a very good attorney."

Burge's testimony is scheduled to resume Monday morning.