The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Commission Finds Evidence Of Police Torture In 5 Convictions—4 Involving Jon Burge

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 26, 2013 9:50PM

On Thursday, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission determined there was enough evidence to prove five men convicted of murder were tortured into confessing to the crimes. Four of the cases involved confessions obtained by the systemic torture practices of disgraced Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge and his infamous ring of detectives.

The commission said the cases involving Burge contained many of the signature patterns of his crew.

"One characteristic of the Burge cases ... is the coercion of confessions from the mentally handicapped and psychologically vulnerable," said the court filing in Mitchell's case. Another notable Burge pattern was that detectives threatened to lock up Mitchell's mother and have state welfare workers take away his siblings, according to the filing.

The most notorious case involved Jerry and Reginald Mahaffey, who were convicted in the brutal 1983 murder of Dean Pueschel and wife Jo Ellen. The Mahaffeys were accused of clubbing Dean Pueschel to death; pistol-whipping, raping and murdering Jo Ellen Pueschel; and clubbing and stabbing the couple’s son Ricky.

Jerry Mahaffey was arrested at his home and, according to the torture commission report, punched in the nose, had a gun drawn on him, was beaten during interrogation , suffocated with a plastic bag and was threatened with having his children placed in an orphanage. The Mahaffey’s are serving life sentences in prison. Jerry Mahaffey’s wife and a neighbor gave sworn statements of the police beatings, but his confession was allowed when the detectives in the case were cleared of misconduct charges.

Last week the City Council Finance Committee agreed to settle another police torture case involving Burge for $10 million, the second such settlement involving a Burge case this year. Counting legal fees, police misconduct cases involving Burge have cost the city nearly $70 million.

The five cases will now go before a Cook County Circuit Court judge, who will determine whether new trials are necessary