Prosecutor: Jon Burge Thought He Was Above The Law - The Chicago Criminal Law Blog

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Prosecutor: Jon Burge Thought He Was Above The Law

Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge used lies and a belief that he was above the law to dodge suspicion of abuse he waged on criminal suspects for several years, according to Assistant US Attorney Patrick Weisman, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jon Burge and his staff arrested and tortured about 135 men and women at Area 2 police headquarters, all African-Americans, between 1972 and 1991, according to the University of Chicago's Police Torture Archive. According to various court cases, he and officers under his command used electric shock to the ears and genitalia, mock executions, suffocation and burning.

U.S. District Court Judge Milton Shadur, in the Northern District of Illinois, said the following in a published 1999 case (U.S. ex rel. Maxwell v. Gilmore): 

"It is now common knowledge that in the early to mid-1980s Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and many officers working under him in the physical abuse and torture of prisoners to extract confessions."

Jon Burge's Chicago criminal defense attorney, Rick Beuke, countered by saying the "lies" from his client's "junkie" and "criminal" accusers were "pathological" and "laughable." But in the criminal justice system, even the lowliest of "junkies" deserves fair treatment in police custody and due process of law.

Patrick Weisman detailed the beatings, electric shocks and suffocations that five men in particular said they suffered at the hands of the defendant and his staff between 1973 and 1985. He discussed corroborating evidence from medical staff, Chicago criminal attorneys and former Area 2 police detective Michael McDermott, who testified at the trial.

Jon Burge's attorney continued to defend his client, saying he "has nothing to apologize for in this court," but Patrick Weismann got the final word:

"It's time for justice to speak and it is your time to speak justice."

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