Years ago, black suspects accused Chicago police of extracting confessions through torture: beatings, electric shocks, games of mock Russian roulette, and throwing typewriter covers over their heads to make them gasp for air.

On Wednesday, prosecutors appointed to look into the allegations from the 1970s and 1980s said they found evidence that some of the allegations were true but that the cases are too old or too weak to prosecute.

Prosecutors Robert D. Boyle and Edward Egan said that evidence indicated police abused at least half of the 148 suspects whose cases were reviewed in the $6.1 million investigation, which included 700 people and more than 33,000 documents. Nearly all of the suspects were black.

The investigators were not able to substantiate all of the allegations, but made it clear they believed many of the claims. Boyle and Egan said there was enough evidence to prosecute in only three cases involving a total of five former officers, but the three-year statute of limitations has run out.

“We only wish that we could indict on these three cases,” Boyle said.

Attorneys for the alleged torture victims called on Illinois’ chief federal prosecutor to bring federal charges. But Boyle said the U.S. attorney has also concluded that the statute of limitations has run out.

Among the five officers involved in the three cases prosecutors mentioned was Jon Burge, a lieutenant who commanded a violent-crimes unit and the so-called “midnight crew” that allegedly participated in most of the alleged torture.

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you