Some Cops Say Homicides Hidden To Make City Seem Safer

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    1. #1
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      Some Cops Say Homicides Hidden To Make City Seem Safer

      Lower Murder Rate?
      Some Cops Say Homicides Hidden To Make City Seem Safer

      Pam Zekman

      (CBS) CHICAGO Chicago police say they have been working hard to reduce the city's murder rate, but now tips to the CBS 2 Investigators are raising questions about whether the Chicago police are hiding homicides.

      CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman decided to look in to it.

      In neighborhoods plagued by violence, a strong police presence has reduced the number of homicides from 666 in 2001 to 448 last year.

      "We're policing smarter, we're more strategic and we're more focused," said Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline in December 2004.

      But some cops, who are afraid to speak publicly, say some homicides are being hidden by classifying them as death investigations to make the city seem safer.

      Police officials deny it.

      "I know that every murder is captured," said Deputy Chief of Detectives Mike Chassen. "You cannot hide dead bodies."

      CBS 2 compared lists of homicide victims over the last five years from the Chicago police and the Cook County medical examiner. We eliminated cases that can't be counted in crime statistics, such as accidental deaths.

      We found more than 80 names missing from the police list -- people who were beaten, burned, stabbed, and strangled in ways the medical examiner ruled to be homicides.

      We asked the Chicago police to review all those cases, but they only agreed to pull a few. What emerged is a series of surprising disputes between the police and the medical examiner's office.

      "They say he died of a major heart attack," said Edgar Allen. That's what the police told the brother of 58-year-old Charlie Allen, a minister who once ran for the state legislature.

      Two years ago Allen's body was found in a building he owned. At first police called it a homicide, but later reclassified it as a death investigation. The case was closed as a "non-criminal death."

      But the medical examiner's office ruled Allen died of strangulation, which is a homicide. His brother was shocked when we told him.

      "Do you believe the medical examiner?" CBS 2's Pam Zekman asked him.

      "Of course I do," Allen said. "They go to school for this. The police are the police."

      CBS 2 has obtained copies of documents that show a detective assigned to the case justified closing it out as non-criminal by misstating the autopsy findings.

      The county's chief medical examiner refused to be interviewed on camera but stands by his pathologist's conclusions.

      Dr. Edmund Donoghue noted that the autopsy found Allen had bite marks on his tongue and hemorrhages in eyes and neck, indicating strangulation.

      "We don't believe that's true," Chassen said.

      Then there are the deaths of five women -- their partially dressed or naked bodies were found in abandoned buildings or vacant lots over the last five years. The pathologists in each case concluded the deaths were homicides caused by strangulation.

      "She called me personally and said, 'your niece was strangled to death,'" said LaVerne Willliamson, the aunt of one of the victims, Shaniqua Williamson.

      Williamson reported that to a detective assigned to the case.

      "He told me, no she was not, that is not, we are not handling this as a homicide. And I said why not?" Williamson said.

      She thinks it's because her niece was a prostitute.

      "That's not right. She's a human being, and she is loved," Williamson said.

      Chassen denies that Shaniqua Williamson's history had anything to do with classifying the case as a death investigation.

      "If evidence indicates that a crime occurred, we change that. We make that a homicide," Chassen said.

      Chassen says he doesn't know how the women died, but police can not rely on the medical examiner's conclusions that it was strangulation.

      "There is no physical evidence whatsoever to indicate that," he said.

      Dr. Donoghue says the police are out of their area of expertise and defends the findings of his pathologists.

      "It's sad and unfair to the people of this city that they [the police] are giving them inaccurate information about the incidence of homicide," Donoghue said.

      While the cases we found would not make a significant change in Chicago's rate of reported murders, they raise serious questions about the way some homicides are being investigated.

    2. #2
      Supporting Member - Legally Armed Scooter Trash scooter's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 2006
      I am truly surprised it isn't the shooting deaths that are being hidden to try and prove that Chicagos gun bans/laws are really working

    3. #3
      Join Date
      Aug 2006
      Oh come on. The windy city hiding things. Can't be possibly true. One of my brothers lives next to one of the most violent parts of Chicago. They hear gun fire often.

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