Three people killed by police in Chicago should be alive today, according to a retired cop who says he was fired for reaching that conclusion after investigating their deaths for the city.
If the allegations made by Lorenzo Davis are true, then the authority charged with investigating the Chicago Police Department for police shootings and claims of misconduct since 2007 can no longer be trusted.
Davis, a former supervisor at the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) who previously had a 23-year career with the Chicago Police Department, tells The Daily Beast that he was fired after refusing to obey orders to reverse his findings that police were not justified in shooting suspects six times in the past eight years. In three of those incidents, the suspects died.
“Bad shootings,” Davis says in police parlance for unjustified officer-involved shootings.
IPRA boss Scott Ando was responsible for the orders to reverse the findings, Davis said, adding that when Davis refused to whitewash the incidents, Ando fired him. Davis, despite his decades in law enforcement, was accused by Ando of having an “anti-police bias,” he said.
“He made it clear that supervisors there serve at his pleasure,” Davis said. “Our jobs are completely at-will. He doesn’t have to have a reason to fire us.”
IPRA spokesman Larry Meritt declined to comment directly on Davis’s allegations.
“This is a personnel matter, and it would be inappropriate to address it through the media,” Meritt said in a statement. “IPRA is committed to conducting fair, unbiased, objective, thorough and timely investigations of allegations of police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.”
Davis first went public to WBEZ radio in Chicago this week. While he wouldn’t mention which cases he had called into question because the investigations are ongoing, there are plenty to choose from, including several that have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements with families of those killed by police.
“As many as 5 percent of police shootings [that IPRA investigates] are problematic,” Davis said.
Yet out of almost 400 police shootings investigated since 2007, IPRA has only found wrongdoing on the part of one officer. That’s not surprising to Davis, who said other investigators and supervisors in IPRA were overruled by Ando, the police department, or the police board when they concluded officers used lethal force without justification.
When IPRA finds that an officer is guilty of excessive force or unjustified in a shooting, it recommends disciplinary action—suspension, desk duty or firing, among other punishments. But that decision first must go through Ando before being considered by Superintendent Garry McCarthy and the police board, who can reject the recommendation.
A city agency, IPRA was created in 2007 after claims of corruption and distrust crippled its predecessor, the Office of Professional Standards. At its outset, hope was high that IPRA would help to change a police culture that some view as being abusive and torturous, Davis said. The agency’s former director, Ilana Rosenzweig, a California lawyer, fostered that sense of enthusiasm. But all that changed when an interim director that followed Rosenzweig was replaced by Scott Ando in 2014. Ando spent nearly 30 years with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago before taking over IPRA.
With deep ties to law enforcement, Davis and others claim that Ando is nothing more than a puppet for McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.