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Saturday, 12 January 2008

Jeremy Williams

Jeremy Williams and another man were sitting in a parked car when Williams was shot. As the officer fired, the driver of the car backed the car up and escaped. Police were not able to search the car until it was recovered later. No gun was recovered, and no shots were fired from the car at the scene, according to police records obtained by the Tribune.
Police officials sought charges against Williams, who lost his eye in the shooting. Prosecutors balked, however, because of insufficient evidence showing that the officers faced a deadly threat in the Dec. 20 shooting on the West Side, a spokesman for State's Atty. Dick Devine said.
For years, survivors of shootings by police officers nearly always ended up being charged with crimes, a recent Tribune investigation found.
But the state's attorney's office has made several recent moves to reform its role in police shooting investigations, further straining relations with a Police Department mired in misconduct scandals.
"There was no gun recovered, no shots fired," Devine spokesman John Gorman said of Williams' shooting. "The police officers said that someone pointed a gun at them, but they couldn't make out which guy it was and the suspect made no admission of it. In other words, there was no evidence."
The officers' conduct in the shooting remains under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates allegations of excessive force and brutality by officers. Ilana Rosenzweig, its chief administrator, declined to comment on the investigation.
Late on Dec. 20, a motorist called 911 to report that someone fired a gun in the air from a Lincoln Town Car as it drove south on Pulaski Road near Lake Street.
Just before midnight, Williams, 22, was sitting in a car with another man, Pierre Manning, when a police car carrying three members of the Harrison Area gang team pulled up and got out, according to police records.
The description and license plate given by the caller matched the car Manning was driving. The vehicle was registered to a woman at the address where police found the men parked, according to police records.
One of the officers pulled his gun, said he saw a raised firearm in the car and fired "five or six shots," according to records. Williams was struck in the eye. It was later learned that Manning was wounded in the arm, said lawyer Sally Saltzberg, who is representing the men.
In addition to the officer who fired his gun, one other officer said he saw a gun raised in the car. But neither officer could say whether the driver or the passenger was holding the gun, according to police records. The third officer said he did not see a gun.
As the officer fired, Manning backed the car up and drove off. He dumped Williams at the curb several blocks away and then continued to flee. The officers said they tried to pursue the car but lost it when it turned a corner, according to police records. Police found the car abandoned in the area later but never recovered a gun.
Williams was taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center, where he was treated for the gunshot wound to his eye. Manning was arrested days later on unrelated charges and is being held in the medical wing of Cook County Jail. He and his lawyers accuse police of beating him during his subsequent arrest.
Forensic testing on the car is ongoing, sources familiar with the investigation said. But city officials have made it clear that the police are unlikely to try to secure charges again, the sources said.
The men filed a petition in Circuit Court last week demanding records from the investigation, typically a prelude to filing a lawsuit. Chicago Police spokeswoman Monique Bond declined to comment on prosecutors' decision not to charge Williams or Manning.
In a review of police shootings conducted by the Tribune, the newspaper found that people shot by officers were nearly always charged with attacking the police. In numerous cases, the charges did not hold up in court because of a lack of evidence or conflicting statements from the officers.
During the last year, top prosecutors have acknowledged their growing skepticism about the integrity of police shooting investigations. In the wake of the Tribune's investigation, Devine announced the formation of a new unit to review civil lawsuits to search for evidence that plaintiffs' lawyers may have uncovered.
Devine also is planning to change his prosecutors' role at the preliminary roundtable reviews that take place hours after shootings. But he has said he won't make any final decisions before speaking to incoming police Supt. Jody Weis, who was approved by the City Council on Wednesday and inherits a department reeling from a string of misconduct scandals.


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