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City Fired Investigator Who Found Police At Fault In Shootings, Records Show

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jul 21, 2015 3:55PM

The city has fired an independent police investigator who found that several police officers' shootings of civilians were unjustified.

The investigator, Lorenzo Davis, resisted orders from higher-ups to reverse his findings, according to internal agency records obtained by WBEZ.

Davis, 65, was a supervising investigator with the city's Independent Police Review Authority and a former Chicago police commander until July 9. He had been investigating police brutality complaints for the agency, at a time when police departments around the country are being scrutinized for their policing practices in the wake of the high-profile, fatal shootings of several young, black citizens.

Since the creation of the agency, known as IPRA, in 2007, investigators have reviewed nearly 400 shootings of civilians by police and found all but one to be justified.

Davis was fired, according to records, after a 19-month performance evaluation found that he "displays a complete lack of objectivity combined with a clear bias against the police in spite of his own lengthy police career." IPRA itself has been accused of lacking objectivity by local police brutality activists who believe the agency is not ruling fairly on cases where police officers shoot citizens.

A statement on the findings from IPRA said:

“This is a personnel matter that would be inappropriate to address through the media, though the allegations are baseless and without merit. IPRA is committed to conducting fair, unbiased, objective, thorough and timely investigations of allegations of police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.”

Davis, who spoke with WBEZ, said his decisions were fair. A longtime police officer before retiring in 2004, he said he observed that some officers were not doing their jobs properly.

“I did not like the direction the police department had taken,” Davis said. “It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do. The discipline was no longer there.” ... “If there are a few bad police officers who have committed some shootings that are unnecessary or bad then it erodes the public’s confidence in all the other police officers out there."

Davis said chief administrator Scott M. Ando told him to change his findings in six cases, which he declined to discuss in detail because some are pending and all are confidential. He refused:

“They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot,” Davis said about those officers. “They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force.”