Emanuel Won’t Have to Testify on ‘Code of Silence’

     CHICAGO (CN) — Embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel dodged a political bullet today Tuesday when a Chicago police misconduct suit in which he may have had to testify settled moments before trial was to begin.
     In 2012, two Chicago police officers, Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria, filed a suit claiming that they had been fired for refusing to comply with the “code of silence” Emanuel once called a “thin blue line” hiding police misconduct from the public.
     Beginning in 2006, the two helped the FBI investigate police misconduct including police robbing drug couriers and manufacturing cases. They were to be promoted before their whistle-blowing came to light, but were instead sent to work at the police academy.
     The police department then told them that the reassignment was a “safety issue,” with a sergeant saying “‘I don’t want to tell your daughter you’re coming home in a box because the team won’t help you on the street.”
     According to the Sun Times, Emanuel faced the prospect of being called to testify after city attorneys acknowledged that a code of silence exists in the Chicago police force, while insisting that cover-ups are “not pervasive, widespread, and well-settled custom or practice to which the city’s chief policy-makers have been indifferent.”
     This did not satisfy Spalding’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lynn Taren, who planned to try to have Emanuel testifying, saying: “We believe the mayor’s statements will allow jurors to conclude the chief executive officer of the city knows this is a culture that permeated the Chicago Police Department and not just a few outliers.”
     The Sun Times also noted that a Emanuel’s admissions could cost the city tens of millions of dollars. Chicago taxpayers have already lost over $500 million to settle those cases in the past decade.
     After nearly four years of work, the case was set for trial today, amid the continuing fallout from the Laquan McDonald case, in which officer Jason Van Dyke shot the 17-year-old 16 times in a Chicago street.
     However, minutes before the jury was to be called in, Judge Gary Feinerman informed the crowd assembled that the case had settled.
     Plaintiff-side attorneys declined to comment further on the suit, but offered a lengthy and detailed press release.
     “The plaintiffs have agreed to accept the sum of $2,000,000 in settlement,” it says. “There are skeptics who will say that the City of Chicago settled the Spalding case so that Mayor Emanuel would not have to testify at trial. That is an insult to Officers Spalding and Echeverria and to the brave officers who were scheduled to testify on their behalf.
     “This case would not have been won or lost on the testimony of Mayor Emanuel. Our goal in requesting the Court to require the Mayor’s testimony was to establish once and for all, what has now been publically acknowledged, that the code of silence has been a widespread practice that has been allowed to exist and that has been a plague on this city.”
     The press release also noted that according to the Mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force, “the code of silence is not just an unwritten rule or an unfortunate element of police culture past and present. The code of silence is institutionalized and reinforced by rules and policies baked into labor agreements between police unions and the city.”
     The officers also commented in the release.
     Spalding said: “I am looking forward to the day when this awful chapter in my life is over. I loved my job protecting the citizens of Chicago. No police officer should be afraid to come forward and report the misconduct that they see. ‘Blue is blue’ means that I will do almost anything, even risk my life, to protect my brothers and sisters on the force. But it does not mean that I will lie or close my eyes when I see a fellow officer committing a crime or abusing the rights of a citizen.”
     Her colleague, Echeverria, added: “Most cops just want to do what is right. But when a fellow officer violates his or her sacred trust and instead of protecting the rights of the citizens commits a crime; that hurts all cops.” The press release concluded with a promise that the fight is not over: “The code of silence cannot be allowed to continue to exist in Chicago. The citizens of Chicago want it to end. The vast majority of police officers want it to end. Hopefully, the settlement of this case will be a first step towards its demise.

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