The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

How to Get Away with Murder—Be a Chicago Cop

Dec 17, 2007

Cops in Chicago are given free rein to shoot and kill people and are almost never held accountable. This is the conclusion of an investigative report published recently by the Chicago Tribune. More than 100 people were killed by the Chicago police over the past decade. In 12 cases the person had been shot in the back. Yet the county prosecutor over the last decade never once charged a cop with shooting a civilian while on duty.

Instead of putting killer cops on trial, the county prosecutor was busy bringing people who survived police shootings to trial. The Tribune found that in 12 cases, the charges against the person shot were dropped or the trial acquitted them. So if the people who were killed were innocent of any crime, what does that say about the police?

Some of the families of those killed went to court, charging the cops and the city that employed them with wrongful death. The city of Chicago was forced to pay out 59 million dollars in settlements to these families, thus admitting police and city responsibility.

The Tribune gave the story of 20-year-old paraplegic Cornelius Ware. In 2003, cops in an unmarked police car pulled him over for running a stop sign. The cops drew their guns and told him to get out. Ware’s mother yelled from the sidewalk, “He can’t walk! He’s paralyzed!” But a cop fired five shots anyway, then reloaded and shot again. As Ware lay dying, police supervisors quickly cleared the cop of any wrongdoing. However, when Ware’s family brought suit, a trial jury sided with them and the city of Chicago had to pay 5.3 million dollars for this officially sanctioned murder.

Those millions of dollars paid out for “wrongful death” are–right now–the only real indictment of cops who murder. That is, until the population holds the police to account.