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Grisly Details In Two Separate Chicago Police Torture Scandals Emerge

By Jon Graef in News on Jan 11, 2014 8:30PM

Photo by: jmuch

The grisly details that have emerged in two separate Chicago Police Department torture scandals this week are decidedly not a good look for a police department focused on police legitimacy.

First, the Chicago Tribune reported the latest details of the ongoing Steve Mandell case. Mandell is the ex-Chicago cop accused of plotting to kill a federal witness from behind bars. Prosecutors in that case contend they have audio of Mandell casually discussing with partner Gary Engel, who committed suicide in his jail cell a week after he was arrested in October 2012, how to torture a kidnapping victim into giving up cash and jewelry.

Prosecutors allege Manning and Engel planned to wage “psychological warfare” on the kidnapping victim to coerce him to turn over his assets and discussed their ideas on how best to drain the victim of blood.

Equipped with handcuffs, walkie-talkies and fake badges, Manning and Engel planned to disguise themselves as federal marshals arresting the victim on a warrant, according to the charges. Once they had the businessman in their car, they planned to take him to a Northwest Side storefront they dubbed “Club Med,” which had been outfitted with restraints, an industrial sink and other equipment for carrying out the murder, prosecutors allege.

The planned torture included genital mutilation, which Engel reportedly described as like "slicing a banana split." The details come from the latest court filing in the case.

As if that weren't enough: Vice reporter Rania Khalek spoke to Angel Perez, a filmmaker who alleges he was "was beaten and sodomized with a gun by Chicago police officers until he agreed to be a drug informant" back in October 2012. The reason for the alleged intimidation? Perez was working on a book and documentary about the Jon Burge torture scandal. `

Perez told Khalek that Officers Jorge Lopez and Matt Cline brutally interrogated him about a contact of his, "Dwayne," who was Perez's weed hookup:

The two cops drove Angel to the police station, where, he alleges, he was handcuffed to a wall and shackled by the ankles. They demanded Angel participate in a drug sting against Dwayne. When he refused they contorted his shackled body, causing excruciating pain. This went on for several hours.

“At one point, the Sergeant sat on the plaintiff’s chest and placed his palms on the plaintiff’s eye sockets and pushed hard against them,” according to the complaint Angel filed in court. “The Sergeant also drove his elbows into plaintiff’s back and head causing severe pain. Defendant Lopez was in the room at the time and did not intervene.”

According to Angel, once the cops realized that he wasn’t going to cooperate, they cranked up the torture


The rest is too vile for words. Perez struggles with PTSD, is angry with the lack of progress in his case, and alleges that he is continually harassed by Chicago police, who declined to comment to Vice about the story.

Those separate stories, or at least the Perez allegation, throw a considerable wrench in CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy's embrace of police legitimacy. What is police legitimacy? WBEZ explained last December. Reporter Robert Wildeboer observed a special one-day training course that basically played out like beat cop calisthenics; how to catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

The one-day training on something called police legitimacy, an idea based on academic research into effective policing. Superintendent Garry McCarthy has been pushing it since he came to Chicago. He often drops the names of researchers and academics Tracey Meares and Tom Tyler who have articulated and championed the twin ideas of procedural justice and police legitimacy. ...

So, let’s say you get pulled over and get a ticket but the cop was really nice. The research finds that you could leave that interaction feeling good about police even though you got a ticket. On the flip side, let’s say you don’t get the ticket but the cop is a total… well, let’s keep it clean for the kids and just say he’s not nice. Even though you didn’t get a ticket you’ll likely leave that interaction with a negative view of police.

So good cops being good helps more than it hurts, even when you're enforcing the law. That makes everyone feel good about their police department, which makes them more likely to cooperate, which makes it easier to solve cases with the help of the community.

Why is McCarthy into this idea? "McCarthy says this is a step towards repairing the legacy of mistrust between poor communities of color and the police," Wildeboer reported.

Obviously, in the case of Perez, there's still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done.