Jon Burge - Police Career - Torture Methods

Torture Methods

Andrew Wilson was arrested on the morning of February 14, 1982 for the murder of the two police officers, and by the end of the day, he was in Mercy Hospital and Medical Center with lacerations on various parts of his head, including his face, chest bruises and second-degree thigh burns. It was clear that Wilson had received sufficient injuries to be sent to the hospital, with more than a dozen of them caused while in police custody. During a two-week trial in 1983, Andrew Wilson was convicted of the killings and given a death penalty sentence, while his brother, Jackie, was convicted as an accomplice and given a life sentence. In 1985, Jackie's conviction was overturned by the Illinois Appellate Court because his right to remain silent had not been properly explained. Because Andrew was given a death sentence, his case was not reviewable on the same grounds by the Appellate Court and went directly to the Illinois Supreme Court. In April 1987, the Supreme Court overturned Andrew's conviction with a ruling that he had confessed involuntarily after being beaten by the police.

In October 1987, the appellate court further ruled that Jackie Wilson should have been tried separately from his brother and that evidence against Andrew Wilson regarding other matters for which the police wanted him was incorrectly admitted. In June 1988, Andrew was re-convicted. However, with ten women in favor and two men opposed, the jury was unable to agree on his eligibility for the death penalty after five days of deliberation, and the following month he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Seven years after the original arrest, Andrew filed a civil suit stating that he had been beaten, suffocated with a plastic bag, burned (by cigarette and radiator), treated with electric shock, and been the victim of the pattern of a cover-up. Although the suit was against four detectives, a former police superintendent and the City of Chicago, it hinged on the testimonies of plaintiff Wilson and commander Burge, who oversaw all of the alleged activity.

Jury selection commenced on February 15, 1989. The original two-woman, four-man jury included three African-Americans and one Latino. When Burge took the stand on March 13, 1989, he denied claims he injured Andrew Wilson during questioning and denied any knowledge of any such activity by other officers. Gradually, charges against other officers were dismissed. On March 15, 1989, Sergeant Thomas McKenna was cleared of wrongdoing; and on March 30, 1989, Detectives John Yucaitis and Patrick O'Hara were unanimously cleared by the jury. However, the jury was at an impasse on the Burge verdict. U.S. District Judge Brian B. Duff ordered a retrial for Burge, former Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek and the City of Chicago on two other outstanding charges (conspiracy and whether the City of Chicago's policy toward police brutality contributed to Wilson's injuries). Burge was cleared in a second nine-week trial that began on June 9, 1989.

Burge and other Chicago Police officers allegedly used methods of torture that left few marks. They were accused of slamming telephone books on top of suspect’s heads. There were also three separate electrical devices that Burge and his detectives were accused of using: a cattle prod, a hand cranked device, and a violet wand. They allegedly used an old-style hand cranked telephone which generated electricity, and attached wires to the suspect’s genitals or face. According to veteran sergeant D. J. Lewis, this is a method of torture common in the Korean War, and usually results in a confession. Burge has denied ever witnessing such telephone torture procedures. The violet wand was said to be regularly placed either on the anus, into the rectum or against the victim's exposed genitals. They also used stun guns and adapted hair dryers. Burge and officers under his command also allegedly engaged in mock executions, in putting plastic bags over heads, cigarette burnings and severe beatings. At one point he is alleged to have supervised the electrical shocking of a 13 year old boy, Marcus Wiggins.

Read more about this topic:  Jon Burge, Police Career

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