Chicago Cops’ Online Fight Lands in Court

     CHICAGO (CN) – A Chicago police captain claims another police officer defamed him on Facebook, accusing him of having sworn an “oath to street gangs and narcotics dealers,” and using his position to protect “his family of dope dealing gangbangers.”
     Juan Morado sued Lance Handzel in Cook County Court.
     Morado is a police captain and executive officer for the Department’s 6th District on the South Side. He has been a Chicago police officer for 27 years.
     Morado says he “enjoys an excellent reputation among his colleagues in the law enforcement profession, and in the community in general.”
     But according to the complaint: “The defendant Lance Handzel has an intense hatred for the plaintiff Juan Morado and for other members of the plaintiff’s family.
     “The defendant Handzel thinks that the presence of the plaintiff’s family members in the neighborhood where the defendant lives is ruining that neighborhood.”
     Morado says his sisters, nephews, and niece all live with his mother, Mary Ann, in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood.
     Morado claims, “Handzel has made a series of false, malicious and defamatory statements about the plaintiff Juan Morado on his Facebook page.”
     As Handzel does not use Facebook privacy settings, “any person with an Internet connection can view the statements that the defendant publishes or ‘posts’ on his Facebook page,” the complaint states.
     Morado claims that in a Dec. 3, 2011 Facebook post, Handzel “accuses the occupants of Mary Ann Morado’s home of being drug dealers, gun sellers, breeders of pit bulls and gang members.”
     The complaint continues: “The defendant’s Facebook message also states that the residents of Mary Ann Morado’s home are ‘related to a high ranking member of the Chicago Police Department.’ In this statement, the defendant is referring to the plaintiff Juan Morado. …
     “The defendant Handzel accuses the plaintiff Juan Morado of being a ‘corrupt police official with un-ethical [sic] ties to Gang members and the narcotic [sic] world.
     “The defendant also claims that the plaintiff caused a retired member of the Chicago Police Department to ‘hunt me down and threatened me.'” (Brackets in complaint.)
     Morado claims that Handzel also posted statements on the Facebook page of a WGN-TV newscaster, (nonparty) Mark Suppelsa, stating, “that the plaintiff Juan Morado ‘has made every attempt to put myself and my family in harm’s way.'”
     And he claims that Handzel “also stated that the plaintiff Juan Morado has sworn an ‘oath to street gangs and narcotics dealers’ which the defendant described as ‘lucrative.'”
     In Jan. 2 posting, Morado says, “Lance Handzel posted what he termed a ‘safety alert to all of my friends and to anyone who lives in our neighborhood.’ …
     “The post also alleges that the ‘male occupants that are in the residemce’ [sic] are gang members who are selling drugs (‘heroin, cocaine, crack, meth and weed’ according to the defendant).
     “The defendant warns children not to ‘gravitate or hangout their’ [sic].
     “The defendant Handzel also claimed that the plaintiff Juan Morado’s position on the Chicago Police Department is ‘the families [sic] rreason [sic] for running such a successful operation.'” (Brackets and parentheses in complaint.)
     Also in January, Morado says, Handzel posted a letter on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Facebook page, and that “In this letter, the defendant accused the plaintiff of ‘threatening and intimidating my family and I.'”
     And on Feb. 3, Morado says, Handzel posted a statement the claimed “that the plaintiff, along with ‘his family of dope dealing gangbangers decided to intimidate and harass me because I arrested his nephew.'”
     Morado says all of Handzel’s allegations are false.
     He seeks an injunction and punitive damages for defamation.
     He is represented by Thomas Needham.

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