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Prosecutors find evidence of Chicago police torture

Won’t lead to indictments

CHICAGO – Special prosecutors investigating allegations that police tortured black suspects in the 1970s and ’80s said Wednesday they found evidence of abuse, but any crimes are now too old to prosecute.

“It is our judgment that the evidence in those cases would be sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Robert D. Boyle and Edward J. Egan wrote in a long-awaited report.

Their four-year investigation focused on allegations that detectives under the command of Lt. Jon Burge beat suspects, used electric shock on them, played mock Russian roulette and started to smother at least one man to elicit confessions.

No one has ever been charged, but Burge was fired after a police board found he had abused a suspect in custody. His attorney has said Burge never tortured anyone.

Boyle and Egan’s report said they found three cases with enough evidence to seek an indictment, including the suspect whose abuse allegations led to Burge’s firing. That suspect, who was convicted of killing two police officers in 1982, claimed Burge and two detectives beat and tortured him with electric shocks.

The special prosecutors also said they believe there was abuse in other cases that they reviewed but that the evidence wasn’t as strong.

“Regrettably, we have concluded that the statute of limitations would bar any prosecution of any offenses our investigation has disclosed,” the prosecutors said. The statute of limitations on the allegations is three years.

Several people who claimed to have been abused or tortured by Chicago detectives have filed civil lawsuits, and the report could bolster their legal claims.

The allegations also have drawn attention from human rights groups.

In May, a United Nations anti-torture panel said the Chicago investigation needs to go farther than it has. They said the United States should ensure that law enforcement officials who mistreat suspects are punished.

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