The Cook County state’s attorney’s office in Chicago is setting up a special unit to review police shootings and other allegations of excessive force by officers, says the Chicago Tribune. The unit hopes to plug gaps in how prosecutors uncover and evaluate misconduct by police. Acknowledging his office had missed evidence of wrongdoing turned up in easily obtainable sources such as lawsuits, State’s Attorney Richard Devine said the new unit would examine those civil suits and other sources for potential evidence of wrongdoing.
The announcement comes after a Tribune investigation of police shootings that showed prosecutors taking a passive role in determining whether the incidents were justified. The series spotlighted police roundtables — also attended by prosecutors — that quickly clear officers and set the stage for cursory follow-up investigations. “The recent media stories on police shootings revealed evidence from civil suits in several police shooting cases that had not come to our attention,” Devine said. The launching of an Excessive Force Review unit is part of a broader review by Devine of how prosecutors handle police shooting cases. Devine has talked about pulling prosecutors from the roundtables, but for now they are staying. Chicago police have urged Devine to keep prosecutors a part of the roundtable process.