"I said I would review it ...[but] that I was very skeptical because I have been around the medical examiner's office for ten years, lot of close contact with the police, and... I just never heard of anything like this in Chicago, and I said that it does seem very unlikely to me that this would be the case. But... I read [Wilson’s medical records and his deposition] . . . and I said, 'This guy has been tortured....there is a very high degree of medical certainty to say this man has not only been beaten and/or kicked, which, let's face it, occurs in custody, but that this man has received electric shock.'"
Mayor Daley was the State's Attorney back then, and he was informed of around fifty cases of torture taking place in Chicago police stations, but chose not to act. Nor did his successors, one of whom actually defended Burge the first time he stood trial on these charges. The city is still stonewalling the production of evidence and the production of witnesses in a myriad torture cases.
I live close to two of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods, half a mile from WEst Englewood, about a mile from South Shore. I know one of the cops who works West Englewood and it is a tough assignment, made harder by a willful code of omerta among the residents, who won't testify against murderers in their midst.
On the other hand, when the locals know that officers like Burge can do as they please with a suspect in custody, it can be a hard sell to persuade people to turn each other in. Even though Burge has been out of police work for 16 years, Chicago's elite tactical unit had to be disbanded two years ago after it became clear that they were preying on the people they'd been sent to protect. A west side precinct housed a police robbery ring that was finally exposed and shut down this past spring.
We ask the cops to do a difficult and dangerous job. But if we think it's okay for them to rob the community or brutalize suspects, then we're really saying we don't care about the rule of law.