Family wants answers in police shooting case

November 13, 2008 3:44:05 PM PST
One year ago today, Freddie Wilson was killed in a police involved shooting in the city's Austin neighborhood. The Independent Police Review Authority has been investigating the incident, but many questions about the shooting remain unanswered. Officers had stopped Wilson for an apparent traffic violation. Thursday, Wilson's family wants to know why it is taking so long for the review board to determine whether the officers involved acted properly.

In its annual report earlier this fall, the IPRA listed hundreds of cases about which it had made findings. But an agency spokesman confirmed Thursday that none of the listed cases were the highest-profile type in which a police officer shoots and kills a civilian.

"They told us six months. We expected six months. It's been a year. We want some answers today," said Corinthia Federick, victim's wife.

Federick led a delegation of family members and friends to the headquarters of the Independent Police Review authority, 3500 S. State. They wanted an update on the IPRA investigation into the November 13th, 2007, death of musician Freddie Wilson, shot 18 times by Chicago police during a street stop on the West Side.

"He was the first case of police misconduct under the new independent review authority, so you would think that after a year, they would have some sort of information," said Federick.

Despite their impromptu visit, Federick's group was allowed to meet with IPRA director Ilana Rosenzweig, who blamed the investigation's slow pace on difficulties interviewing witnesses.

"There were a number of witnesses that we needed to interview. And it took some time to get all of those witnesses interviewed to get their cooperation and gain their trust," said Rosenzweig.

During the first 13 months since it assumed the mission of the now defunct police Office of Professional Standards, the IPRA has not released a finding on any police-involved fatal shootings. Rosenzweig has backed off a promise to try and resolve such cases within six months.

"I'm not going to sacrifice the thoroughness of an investigation for any other reason. So sometimes it takes time to get that thorough investigation," said Rosenzweig.

The director says only two thirds of her staff is fully trained and those on the street have intermittent problems obtaining reports from police, the medical examiner's office and crime lab.

City Council police and fire committee chairman Isaac Carothers blamed lawsuits filed by victims' families for delaying some investigations.

"Their lawyers tell them not to talk to IPRA until they are through with their deposition, and things like that," said Ald. Carothers.

But Federick says her lawyer has advised nothing of the sort. She says if there is any witness intimidation it is by the police.

"I had a witness come tell me they were too scared to say anything because the police, you know, was running around telling people to be quiet and not say nothing," said Federick.

An IPRA spokesman said the agency had made findings in nine non-fatal police shootings but had not devised a way yet to release details of those findings. The 13-month-old agency is yet to release information on any fatal police shootings.


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