Thursday, July 20, 2006; A07
CHICAGO, July 19 -- Chicago police beat, kicked, shocked or otherwise tortured scores of black suspects in the 1970s and 1980s to try to extract confessions from them, prosecutors reported Wednesday.
But the prosecutors -- appointed by a Cook County judge four years ago to look into the allegations -- said that the cases are too old or too weak to prosecute.
Prosecutors Robert D. Boyle and Edward J. Egan said they found evidence that police abused at least half of the 148 suspects whose cases were reviewed. Nearly all of the suspects were black.
The suspects said that police beat them, played mock Russian roulette, administered electric shocks with a cattle prod-like device and a crank-operated "black box."
The investigators were not able to substantiate the allegations, but made it clear they believed many of the claims, including the use of the black box on at least one man, and said that in the majority of cases, suspects were beaten or kicked.
Boyle and Egan said that in three cases involving a total of five former officers was there enough evidence to prosecute, but the three-year statute of limitations has run out.
Among those five officers, Boyle said, was Jon Burge, a lieutenant who commanded a violent-crimes unit and the "midnight crew" that allegedly participated in the abuse.
Neither Burge nor anyone else has ever been charged, but Burge was fired in 1991 after a police board found that a murder suspect was abused while in custody. Burge's attorney has said that Burge never tortured anyone.
In its 300-page report, the prosecutors accused then-police superintendent Richard Brzeczek of dereliction of duty and said he and a former top official at the Cook County state's attorney's office, William J. Kunkle, failed to investigate.
"They can blame me for whatever they want to blame me for," Brzeczek said. "I know what I did was correct. It was not dereliction of duty."
Kunkle, who is now a Cook County circuit judge, was not available for comment, his staff said.
Mayor Richard M. Daley was the state's attorney during part of the period investigated, but Boyle dismissed any notion that Daley knew about the torture. The Daley administration had no comment.