|Jon Graham Burge|
December 20, 1947 |
|Residence||Apollo Beach, Florida|
|Education||Bowen High School
University of Missouri (one semester)
|Occupation||Police Commander (retired)|
|Employer||Chicago Police Department|
|Known for||Police brutality|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army/United States Army Reserve|
|Years of service||1966–1972|
|Unit||Ninth Military Police Company of the Ninth Infantry Division|
Army Commendation Medal (two)
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry
Jon Graham Burge (born December 20, 1947) is a convicted felon and former Chicago Police Department detective and commander who gained notoriety for torturing more than 200 criminal suspects between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions. A decorated United States Army veteran, Burge served tours in South Korea and Vietnam and continued as an enlisted United States Army Reserve soldier where he served in the military police. He then returned to the South Side of Chicago and began his career as a police officer. Allegations were made about the methods of Burge and those under his command. Eventually, hundreds of similar reports resulted in a decision by Illinois Governor George Ryan to declare a moratorium on death penalty executions in Illinois in 2000 and to clear the state's death row in 2003.
The most controversial arrests began in February 1982, in the midst of a series of shootings of Chicago law enforcement officials in Police Area 2, whose detective squad Burge commanded. Some[quantify] of the people who confessed to murder were later granted new trials and a few[quantify] were acquitted or pardoned. Burge was acquitted of police brutality charges in 1989 after a first trial resulted in a hung jury. He was suspended from the Chicago Police Department in 1991 and fired in 1993 after the Police Department Review Board ruled that he had used torture.
After Burge was fired, there was a groundswell of support to investigate convictions for which he provided evidence. In 2002, a special prosecutor began investigating the accusations. The review, which cost $17 million, revealed improprieties that resulted in no action due to the statute of limitations. Several convictions were reversed, remanded, or overturned. All Illinois death row inmates received reductions in their sentences. Four of Burge's victims were pardoned by then-Governor Ryan and subsequently filed a consolidated suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago, various police officers, Cook County and various State's Attorneys. A $19.8 million settlement was reached in December 2007, with the "city defendants". Cases against Cook County and the other current/former county prosecutors continue as of July 2008. In October 2008, Patrick Fitzgerald had Burge arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury in relation to a civil suit regarding the torture allegations against him. On April 1, 2010, Judge Joan Lefkow postponed the trial, for the fourth time, to May 24, 2010. Burge was convicted on all counts on June 28, 2010. He was sentenced to four-and-one-half years in federal prison on January 21, 2011 and was released in October 2014.
Raised in the South Deering community area on the Southeast Side of Chicago, Burge was the second eldest son of Floyd and Ethel Burge. Floyd was a blue collar worker of Norwegian descent and Ethel was an aspiring fashion writer of mixed Western European descent. Burge attended Bowen High School where he showed a keen interest in the school's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC). There he was exposed to military drill, weapons, leadership and military history. He attended the University of Missouri but dropped out after one semester, which ended his draft deferment. He returned to Chicago to work as a stock clerk in the Jewel supermarket chain in 1966.
In June 1966, Burge enlisted in the army reserve and began six years of service, including two years of active duty. He spent eight weeks at a military police (MP) school in Georgia. He also received some training at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he learned interrogation techniques. He volunteered for a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, but instead he became an MP trainer and then served as an MP in South Korea, gathering five letters of appreciation from superiors. On June 18, 1968, Burge volunteered for duty in Vietnam a second time, and was assigned to the Ninth Military Police Company of the Ninth Infantry Division. He reported to division headquarters, where he was assigned to provide security as a sergeant at his division base camp, which was named Đồng Tâm by William Westmoreland. Burge described his military police service as time spent escorting convoys, providing security for forward support bases, supervising security for the divisional central base camp in Dong Tam, and then serving a tour as a provost marshal investigator.
During his military service, Burge earned a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and two Army Commendation Medals for valor, for pulling wounded men to safety while under fire. Burge claimed no knowledge of or involvement in prisoner interrogation, brutality or torture in Vietnam. Burge was honorably discharged from the Army on August 25, 1969. However, when reporting on the Chicago Police Department's ongoing legacy of torture, Ryan Cooper, reporting in The Week magazine, asserted that Burge probably learned to torture in Vietnam, because his preferred technique was to use a hand-cranked generator, a common technique in Vietnam, where hand-cranked field telephones were widely available.
|Jon G. Burge|
December 20, 1947 |
Chicago, Illinois, US
|Department||Chicago Police Department|
|Years of service||1970–1992|
|Rank||Sworn in as an officer – 1970
Detective – 1972
Sergeant – 1977
Lieutenant – 1981
Commander (Violent crimes) – 1981
Commander (Bomb & arson) – 1986
Detective Commander – 1988
Burge became a police officer in March 1970 at age 22 on the South side of Chicago. In 20 years of service, he earned 13 commendations and a letter of praise from the Department of Justice. In May 1972, he was promoted to detective and assigned to Area 2 (Pullman Area) Robbery. He was later promoted to field lieutenant in the Monroe Street District. From 1981–1986 he served as the commander of the Area 2 Violent Crimes Unit until he was promoted to commander of the Bomb and Arson Unit in 1986. In 1988, Burge became Area 3 (Brighton Park) detective commander.
According to The Guardian, federal prosecutors stated that Burge's use of torture began in 1972. However, the most prominent example occurred in 1982. On February 9, 1982, there was an incident on the streets in which a suspect took a police officer's weapon, then shot and killed both the officer and his partner. This incident occurred within Burge's jurisdiction; he was then a lieutenant and commanding officer of Area 2. The two fatalities brought the total to five officers (including two Cook County Sheriff's Officers wounded and a rookie Chicago police officer shot and killed on a CTA bus on February 5) who had been shot in the 60-square-mile (160 km2) area of the South Side within about a month.
Initial interrogation procedures allegedly included shooting pets, handcuffing subjects to stationary objects for entire days, and holding guns to the heads of minors. Jesse Jackson, Operation PUSH spokesmen, the Chicago Defender and black Chicago Police officers were outraged. Renault Robinson, president of Chicago's Afro American Police League characterized the dragnet operation as "sloppy police work, a matter of racism", comparing the police action to that of a southern sheriff leading a posse that turned into a lynch mob. Jackson complained that the black community was being held under martial law. After all of the police excesses, mere coincidence enabled the capture of the suspects for the most recent two killings. Tyrone Sims identified Donald "Kojak" White as the shooter, and Kojak was linked to Andrew and Jackie Wilson by having committed a burglary with them earlier on the day of the killings.
Andrew Wilson was arrested on the morning of February 14, 1982 for the murder of the two police officers, and by the end of the day he was in Mercy Hospital and Medical Center with lacerations on various parts of his head, including his face, chest bruises and second-degree thigh burns. It was clear that Wilson had received sufficient injuries to be sent to the hospital, with more than a dozen of them caused while in police custody. During a two-week trial in 1983, Andrew Wilson was convicted of the killings and given a death penalty sentence, while his brother, Jackie, was convicted as an accomplice and given a life sentence. In 1985, Jackie's conviction was overturned by the Illinois Appellate Court because his right to remain silent had not been properly explained. Because Andrew was given a death sentence, his case was not reviewable on the same grounds by the Appellate Court and went directly to the Illinois Supreme Court. In April 1987, the Supreme Court overturned Andrew's conviction with a ruling that his confession had been coerced involuntarily out of him while under duress.
In October 1987, the appellate court further ruled that Jackie Wilson should have been tried separately from his brother and that evidence against Andrew Wilson regarding other matters for which the police wanted him was incorrectly admitted. In June 1988, Andrew was re-convicted. However, with ten women in favor and two men opposed, the jury was unable to agree on his eligibility for the death penalty after five days of deliberation, and the following month he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Seven years after the original arrest, Andrew filed a civil suit stating that he had been beaten, suffocated with a plastic bag, burned (by cigarette and radiator), treated with electric shock, and been the victim of the pattern of a cover-up. Although the suit was against four detectives, a former police superintendent and the City of Chicago, it hinged on the testimonies of plaintiff Wilson and commander Burge, who oversaw all of the alleged activity.
Jury selection commenced on February 15, 1989. The original two-woman, four-man jury included three African-Americans and one Latino. When Burge took the stand on March 13, 1989, he denied claims he injured Andrew Wilson during questioning and denied any knowledge of any such activity by other officers. Wilson's legal team, led by G. Flint Taylor, received anonymous letters during the trial from a person claiming to be an officer who worked with Burge. This person alleged that the Wilson case was part of a larger pattern of police torture, sanctioned by Burge, of African-American suspects. However, U.S. District Judge Brian Barnett Duff did not permit the jury to hear this evidence. Gradually, charges against other officers were dismissed. On March 15, 1989, Sergeant Thomas McKenna was cleared of wrongdoing; and on March 30, 1989, Detectives John Yucaitis and Patrick O'Hara were unanimously cleared by the jury. However, the jury was at an impasse on the Burge verdict. Judge Duff ordered a retrial for Burge, former Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek and the City of Chicago on two other outstanding charges (conspiracy and whether the City of Chicago's policy toward police brutality contributed to Wilson's injuries). Burge was cleared in a second nine-week trial that began on June 9, 1989.
Burge and other Chicago Police officers allegedly used methods of torture that left few marks. They were accused of slamming telephone books on top of suspect’s heads. There were also three separate electrical devices that Burge and his detectives were accused of using: a cattle prod, a hand cranked device, and a violet wand. They allegedly used a Tucker telephone, an old-style hand cranked telephone which generated electricity, and attached wires to the suspect’s genitals or face. According to veteran sergeant D. J. Lewis, this is a method of torture common in the Korean War, and usually results in a confession. Burge has denied ever witnessing such telephone torture procedures. The violet wand was said to be regularly placed either on the anus, into the rectum or against the victim's exposed genitals. They also used stun guns and adapted hair dryers. Burge and officers under his command also allegedly engaged in mock executions, in putting plastic bags over heads, cigarette burnings and severe beatings. At one point he is alleged to have supervised the electrical shocking of a 13-year-old boy, Marcus Wiggins.
The verdict that cleared Burge and his colleagues also found that the City of Chicago employed a policy of using excessive force on suspected killers of police officers. Initial reports of torture appeared in the pages of the alternative weekly the Chicago Reader in 1990. By 1990 there was growing momentum to an effort to seek disciplinary action against Burge. An investigation conducted by Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards concluded that Jon Burge and his detectives engaged in "methodical" and "systematic" torture, and "The type of abuse described was not limited to the usual beating, but went into such esoteric areas as psychological techniques and planned torture."
Danny K. Davis turned police brutality and excessive force into a Chicago mayoral race campaign issue for the February 26, 1991 Democratic Primary. He sought an independent citizens' review. On January 28, 1991, Amnesty International called for an investigation into police torture in Chicago. After Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley showed reluctance to follow the Amnesty International directive, Davis raised an issue about a police coverup. Eventually, after pressure by citizens' organizations and anti-brutality organizations, an internal investigation resumed.
In 1991, Gregory Banks filed suit against Burge, three colleagues and the City of Chicago for condoning brutality and torture. The allegation was related to a false 1983 confession to murder obtained by placing a plastic bag over Banks' head, putting a gun in his mouth and other acts. There were eleven other suspects that the officers allegedly abused with brutality such as electro-shock. The suit was brought by the same attorneys who represented Andrew Wilson in the previous 1989 brutality case. The suit described 23 incidents against black and Hispanic suspects between 1972–1985. A third suit was brought against Burge in 1993. The Banks suit named Sergeant Peter Dignan as one of the officers involved in the abusive handling. Dignan was promoted later for meritorious service despite the fact that the City of Chicago settled out of court with Banks.
In November 1991, the Chicago Police Department Office of Professional Standards, an internal review division for police misconduct, acknowledged an October 25, 1991 request for action against Burge. This type of request was a common precursor to a police dismissal and gave the City of Chicago's Corporation counsel 30 days to consider the report. Burge was suspended pending separation for 30 days starting on November 8, 1991. The Chicago Police Board set a November 25 hearing to formalize the firing of Burge and two detectives based on 30 counts of abuse and brutality against Wilson. The hearing related to the internal police investigation finding that Burge and Detective John Yucaitis physically abused Wilson in 1982, while Detective Patrick O'Hara did nothing to stop them. The suspension became controversial after the 30 day period ended and the officers remained suspended without pay. They sued for reinstatement, but their reinstatements were denied. During the hearing an internal report that had been suppressed for years revealed police review findings that criminal suspects were subjected to systematic brutality at the Area 2 detective headquarters for 12 years and that supervisory commanders had knowledge of the abuses. During the trial, several alleged victims testified against Burge.
The internal hearing concluded in March 1992, and the Chicago Police Board found Burge guilty of "physically abusing" an accused murderer 11 years earlier and ordered his firing from the police force on February 10, 1993. Detectives John Yucaitis and Patrick O'Hara were given 15-month suspensions without pay and reinstated, which amounted to a penalty equal to time served. Upon reinstatement the two detectives were initially demoted, but almost a year later they were reinstated at full-rank with backpay for time served while demoted. Burge attempted to have the ruling overturned, but the suspension and subsequent firing was upheld.
The internal hearing resulted in a situation in which the City of Chicago was employing lawyers to defend Burge during an appeal by Wilson and a new case by Banks while employing lawyers to prosecute him on departmental charges. The City of Chicago had to hire outside counsel to prosecute the detectives at the internal hearing. After having spent $750,000 to defend Burge in the Wilson hearing, the City of Chicago was in a dilemma about whether to follow normal practices and pay for the defense of its police officers.
In 1993, Wilson was granted a new hearing by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling was based on the fact that the exoneration of the officers resulted from a trial strategy to "immerse the jury in the sordid details of Wilson's crimes" rather than focus on a suspect's "right to be free from torture and the correlative right to present his claim of torture to a jury that has not been whipped into a frenzy of hatred".
In 1998, Bianca Jagger, Anthony Amsterdam, George N. Leighton, Abner Mikva, R. Eugene Pincham and representatives from the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Chicago Law School, and by the London-based International Center for Criminal Law and Human Rights called for a stay of execution for Aaron Patterson who was allegedly tortured into a confession.
In 1999, lawyers for several death row inmates began to call for a special review of the convictions based on evidence extracted by Burge and his colleagues. These inmates (Aaron Patterson; Madison Hobley; Stanley Howard; Leonard Kidd; Derrick King; Ronald Kitchen; Reginald Mahaffey; Jerry Mahaffey; Andrew Maxwell, and Leroy Orange) became known as the "Death Row 10". In a report called the Goldston Report, the City of Chicago enumerated 50 alleged instances of police brutality and abuse by Burge and other officers. The City of Chicago struggled with the issue of coerced confessions for decades and in the 1990s it quietly reopened several controversial brutality cases. Despite an extensive investigation into the actions by a number of police employees, few others but Burge were sanctioned.
Several politicians, including US Representative Bobby Rush, requested that State's Attorney Richard A. Devine seek new trials for the Death Row 10 who were allegedly tortured by Burge. Devine met with representatives and supporters of the inmates and was convinced to request that the Illinois Supreme Court stay proceedings against three of the inmates. However, the Supreme Court denied Devine's request. Rush also sought out Janet Reno to pursue federal intervention.
In February 1999, David Protess, a Northwestern University journalism professor and his students uncovered exonerating evidence on behalf of Death Row inmate Anthony Porter. The students produced four affidavits and a videotaped statement that placed the guilt on another suspect. Recantations of testimony at trial were among the affidavits obtained. One witness claimed that he named Anthony Porter after police officers threatened, harassed and intimidated him into doing so.
In 2000, Governor Ryan halted executions in Illinois after courts found that 13 death row inmates had been wrongfully convicted. Ryan also promised to review the cases of all Illinois death row inmates. Given the number of cases of alleged brutality, allegedly coerced inmates were offered reduced sentences in exchange for dropping charges. A plea agreement was reached with one convicted victim. Devine made a broader offer to several inmates. Aaron Patterson rejected the plea.
On January 11, 2003, having lost confidence in the state's penal system, outgoing Republican Governor George Ryan commuted the death sentences of 167 prisoners on Illinois’ death row. He decided to grant clemency to all death row inmates by converting death sentences to sentences of life without parole in most cases and reducing some sentences. In addition, Ryan pardoned four death row inmates: Madison Hobley, Aaron Patterson, Leroy Orange and Stanley Howard, who were among the ten who claimed wrongful imprisonment. In the unusual proceeding, the governor took the extraordinary step of a direct pardon release rather than a court proceeding.
Daley, at the time the Cook County State's Attorney, has been accused by the Illinois General Assembly of failing to act on information he possessed on the conduct of Burge and others. Daley has acknowledged his responsibility to be proactive in stopping the torture, but denies any knowledge which could have made him responsible. On July 19, 2006, US Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. issued a press release calling Mayor Daley culpable, possibly even criminally culpable, for his failure to prosecute until the statute of limitations had run out. Jackson called for an investigation to determine if there was any planned delay to allow the cases to expire. Eventually, death penalty opponents requested that U.S. President Bill Clinton follow Ryan's lead in halting executions. In August 2000, The Illinois Supreme Court reversed or remanded two Burge-related death row cases based on allegations of torture by police.
After being pardoned by Governor Ryan, Burge's victims began to file lawsuits. Madison Hobley was the first of the four pardoned inmates to file suit in May 2003. Aaron Patterson followed in June with his own suit, and Stanley Howard filed suit in November. Eventually, the City of Chicago agreed to a $20 million settlement with the four pardoned inmates. Another result of the pardons was a series of legislative death penalty reforms that Ryan's successor Rod Blagojevich vetoed. By 2005, the state mandated video recording of interrogations in homicide cases. Barack Obama had pushed the mandated video recording bill through the Illinois State Senate in 2003. One of the four men pardoned by Ryan, Madison Hobley, would sue Burge for the torture. Ultimately, it was answers Burge gave in a deposition in Hobley's lawsuit that allowed Burge to be charged with perjury.
In 2002, the Cook County Bar Association, the Justice Coalition of Chicago and others petitioned for a review of the allegations against Burge. Edward Egan, a former prosecutor, Illinois Appellate Court jurist, and semiretired lawyer who lived in Florida, was appointed as a Special State's Attorney (a/k/a "special prosecutor") to investigate allegations dating back to 1973. He hired an assistant, several lawyers and retired Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. The only prior official investigation, which resulted in Burge's firing, had been by the Office of Professional Standards, which determined that "the preponderance of evidence is that abuse did occur and that it was systematic." Former prosecutor Robert D. Boyle was also appointed as a special prosecutor. In 2003, former Chief of the Special Prosecution Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office Gordon B. Nash Jr. was appointed as an additional special prosecutor.
A total of 60 cases were ordered to be reviewed. A special prosecutor was hired because Cook County State's Attorney, Richard Devine, had a conflict of interest stemming from his tenure at the law firm of Phelan, Pope & John, which defended Burge in two federal suits. Criminal Courts Judge Paul P. Biebel Jr. presided over the determination of the need of a review to determine the propriety of criminal charges and the appointment of the special prosecutor.
During the written phase of the investigation Burge and eight other officers pleaded the Fifth Amendment. On September 1, 2004, Burge was served with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury in an ongoing criminal investigation of police torture while in town for depositions on civil lawsuits at his attorney's office. Burge pleaded the Fifth Amendment to virtually every question during a 4-hour civil case deposition. He only answered questions about his name, his boat's name (Vigilante) and his $30,000 annual pension. The City of Chicago continues to be bound by court order to pay for Burge's legal fees. The service of the subpoena was quite storied with Burge eluding servers at Midway Airport and a team placed at his lawyer's office before dawn. Eventually, several police officers were granted immunity in order to further the investigation into Burge.
Three years into the investigation no criminal charges had been filed although several civil suits were filed in federal court. By that time, a total of 139 victims were involved in the case as well as 19 investigators. Disappointment on the progress caused the victims to request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights allot them an hour-long hearing at their October 2005 session.
On May 19, 2006 an initial ruling was made to release the special report on torture accusations. On June 20, 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court unblocked the release of the special report by Egan that took 4 years and cost $17 million. In the end 148 cases were evaluated. The investigation revealed that in three of the cases prosecutors could have proved beyond a reasonable doubt in court that torture by the police involving five former officers including Burge had occurred. Half of the claims were deemed credible, but because of the statute of limitations no indictments were handed out. Mayor Daley and all law enforcement officials who had been deposed were excluded from the report. Also, the 75 credible abuse cases were overlooked with the report focusing on doubts about the actual torture of pardoned death row inmates. Among the final costs were $6.2 million for the investigation and $7 million to hire outside counsel for Burge and his cohorts. Although the statute of limitations argument was a disappointment to many, the argument was very elaborately detailed in an 18-page section of the report. Debates in the op-ed pages continued for days and Egan explained his report to the public with legal theories and federal jurisdiction issues.
On the same day of the initial ruling to release the special report was made, the 36th session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture issued its "Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture" report of the United States. The document states, "The Committee is concerned at allegations of impunity of some of the State party’s law-enforcement personnel in respect of acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Committee notes the limited investigation and lack of prosecution in respect of the allegations of torture perpetrated in areas 2 and 3 of the Chicago Police Department (art. 12). The State party should promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate all allegations of acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by law-enforcement personnel and bring perpetrators to justice, in order to fulfil its obligations under article 12 of the Convention. The State party should also provide the Committee with information on the ongoing investigations and prosecution relating to the above-mentioned case."
In 2002, Special State's Attorney (a/k/a "special prosecutor") Egan was appointed by Judge Paul P. Biebel, Jr., Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, who directed Egan to investigate (and, if appropriate, prosecute) the accusations. Egan's review, which cost $17 million, revealed improprieties that resulted in no action due to the statute of limitations.
Four of Burge's death row inmate victims—Aaron Patterson, LeRoy Orange, Stanely Howard, and Madison Hobley—filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago, Burge, several of Burge's former subordinate police detectives, Cook County, and a few current and former State's Attorneys and assistant state's attorneys of Cook County (the precise list of police officers and prosecutors varied somewhat from plaintiff to plaintiff). Although each case was randomly assigned to a different district judge, the parties all consented to have the four cases consolidated for discovery management before Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown. A settlement of $19.8 million was reached in December 2007 between the plaintiffs and the so-called "city defendants" consisting of the City of Chicago, Burge, the other former detectives, and former Cook County State's Attorney (and Mayor of Chicago at the time of the settlement) Richard M. Daley. The cases against Cook County and the other current/former prosecutors continue as of July 2008. Having never been convicted of a felony, Burge continues to receive a police pension to which he is entitled under Illinois state law.
After being fired, Burge lived in Apollo Beach, Florida, a suburb of Tampa. In 1994, he bought his current wood-frame home for $154,000 and a 22 ft (6.7 m) motorboat. While a police officer Burge had owned a 40-foot (12 m) cabin cruiser named The Vigilante that he maintained at Burnham Harbor. Upon retiring at full pension he ran a fishing business in Florida. The precise amount of his pension is not a matter of public record, but he was eligible for 50% of his approximately $60,000 salary.
The torture revelations led to actions to mandate videotaping of confessions. The case has been chronicled in various formats in the mass media. The book Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People (2001, ISBN 0-520-23039-6) by John Conroy includes four chapters on Burge's story. Also, the 1994 Public Broadcasting Service documentary film, co-produced with Peter Kuttner, that was entitled The End of the Nightstick, analyzed the torture charges against Burge.
Although Burge had been presumed to be protected by a statute of limitations, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, in October 2008 charged Burge with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury. Burge was arrested on October 21, 2008 at his home in Apollo Beach by FBI agents.
Under the charges, Burge could have been subject to 40 years in prison for the two obstruction counts and five years on the perjury count. The charges were the result of convicted felon Madison Hobley's 2003 civil rights lawsuit alleging police beatings, electric shocks and death threats by Burge and other officers against dozens of criminal suspects.
Burge pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 bond. Fitzgerald noted that although Burge was being charged with lying and not the torture to which the statute of limitations applied, he believed Burge to be guilty of both. In the October 21 press conference, Fitzgerald stated that Burge had "lied and impeded court proceedings" during his 2003 written testimony. In the indictment, the prosecution stated that Burge understood that he was a participant in and was aware of "such events involving the abuse or torture of people in custody". The trial had been set for May 11, 2009. Instead, on April 29, Burge filed a change-of-venue motion and the trial in relation to a lawsuit filed by former Death Row inmate Madison Hobley was set for October 29, 2009.
Also in April, Cortez Brown, who had sought a new trial with respect to two 1990 murders and who had already subpoenaed two Chicago police detectives for his May 18, 2009 hearing, won the right to subpoena Burge from a Cook County Judge. Burge was expected to exercise his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself. However, the Florida judge refused to grant such a subpoena given the likelihood that Burge would exercise this right.
On May 6, jury selection began for the trial. 80 potential jurors were given a 29-page questionnaire to complete. Attorneys had until May 24 to review the questionnaires before final jury selection began. An additional batch of 90 potential jurors was given a questionnaire on May 17. The trial heard its first testimony on May 26. Burge testified in his own defense for six hours on June 17 and on subsequent days. Closing arguments were heard on June 24, and jury deliberations began on June 25. On June 28, Burge was convicted on all three counts: two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury.
On January 21, 2011, Burge was sentenced to four and a half years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, who had refused to withdraw from the case. The federal probation office had recommended a 15- to 21-month sentence, while prosecutors had requested as much as 30 years. Burge served his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution Butner Low near Butner, North Carolina, about 45 miles (72 km) northwest of Raleigh, where he was Bureau of Prisons Register #50504-018. Burge's projected release date was February 14, 2015. However, he was released from prison on October 3, 2014.
There are plans to file federal civil lawsuits against Burge, Daley and others.
Spencer Ackerman, writing in The Guardian, reported settlements from lawsuits over Burge's use of torture, and other expenses, had cost the Police Department over $100 million. Local Chicago publications identified Zuley as a protege of Burge's. However, Ackerman states that the two officers never served together.
On April 14, 2015, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced the creation of a $5.5 million city fund for individuals who could prove that they were victimized by Burge. Burge said he found it hard to believe that Chicago political leadership could "even contemplate giving reparations to human vermin". The fund was approved by the Chicago City Council on May 6, 2015.
In approving the reparations, Chicago became the first municipal government to approve compensating victims with valid claims of police torture. Under the terms, about 60 living victims would each be eligible to receive up to $100,000. The living survivors, their immediate families, and the immediate families of the deceased torture victims would also gain access to services, including psychological counseling and free tuition to the City Colleges of Chicago. Additionally, the city approved building a public memorial to the deceased victims and established a requirement that students in the eighth and tenth grades attending Chicago Public Schools learn about the Burge legacy. At the May Council meeting, as more than a dozen Burge survivors looked on, Mayor Emanuel offered an official apology on behalf of the City of Chicago, and the aldermen stood and applauded. G. Flint Taylor, who was part of the legal team that negotiated the deal, stated in an interview that the “non-financial reparations make it truly historic. Taylor predicted that the reparations will be a “beacon for other cities here and across the world for dealing with racist police brutality.”
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However, Burge himself probably learned his torture techniques during his time in the Vietnam War. As Rejali argues, Burge's preferred method, electroshock torture using a magneto, was common during that war, when it was done with the magneto from a hand-cranked field telephone.
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According to London’s Guardian newspaper, there is evidence that former Chicago police detective Richard Zuley — one of commander Jon Burge’s men — tortured a detainee at Gimto during an interrogation in 2002.
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This month, disgraced Chicago police commander Jon Burge walked free with his pension after serving 4 1/2 years for lying under oath. Burge is accused of torturing or overseeing the torture of more than 100 African-American men on the city’s South and Westsides throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
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Chicago has long had an institutional problem with police torture. An infamous former police commander, Jon Burge, used to administer electric shocks to Chicagoans taken into his station, and hit them over the head with telephone books. On Friday, Burge was released from home monitoring, the conclusion of a four and a half year federal sentence – not for torture, but for perjury.
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- Jon Burge articles in the archive of the Chicago Tribune
- Police Misconduct archive at the Chicago Tribune
- Trial Begins for Ex-Chicago Police Lt. Accused of Torturing More than 100 African American Men - video report by Democracy Now!
- Video: Jury Convicts Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge of Lying About Torture
- Human Rights at Home: The Chicago Police Torture Archive at the University of Chicago Human Rights Program
- Police Misconduct at the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law