As Chicago Mayor Richard Daley deals with a string of scandals inside the Chicago Police Department, old scandals continue to haunt him, says the Chiago Tribune. The news of nearly $20 million in settlements with four former Death Row inmates allegedly tortured by police into making confessions two decades ago — when Daley was the Cook County prosecutor — comes amid a spate of fresh scandals that have forced the mayor to take unexpected steps in his dealing with his most troublesome department. He restructures civilian oversight of the police and hired a California lawyer to head the Office of Professional Standards, now renamed the Independent Police Review Authority.
A scandal with roots in the 1980s has had the most staying power — and that won’t end with one of the largest settlements of a police lawsuit in city history. “Why does this have such legs? Because of the enormity of what’s alleged and the cast of characters that are, without question, involved in this over the years,” said lawyer Flint Taylor, who has pushed the torture issue for two decades and handled several inmates’ cases. Those characters begin with Jon Burge, the commander of a unit of police detectives alleged to have tortured dozens of murder suspects, most in the 1980s. This year alone, excessive force and other misconduct payouts approved by the City Council, as well as new jury verdicts and lawsuit settlements, have tallied $25 million. Add to it the $19.8 million to settle the four torture cases and the cost to Chicago taxpayers approaches $45 million. The figure does not include legal fees, such as the roughly $6 million in Burge-related court cases in recent years.