Prosecution rests case in Burge trial

June 15, 2010 3:27:06 PM PDT
The prosecution has rested its case at the perjury and obstruction of justice trial of former Chicago police commander Jon Burge.

A man arrested for armed robbery back in 1985 testified Tuesday, claiming he was tortured by Burge while being interrogated.

The state has rested after calling more than 20 witnesses to the stand for the jurors to hear.

Prosecutors tried to make the case that he not only tortured the suspects but lied about it.

The last couple of witnesses didn't want to testify. A former police officer was ordered by the judge to testify, and on Tuesday, jurors heard from a man who alleged that Jon Burge tortured him. The man, Shadeed Mu'min, was subpoenaed to testify.

Mu'min is the fourth and final man prosecutors called alleging torture at the hands of Jon Burge.

A convicted felon, Mu'min testified that Burge interrogated him in 1985 about a robbery and attempted murder at a South Side fast food restaurant.

Mu'min testified that Burge put a loaded gun on the table, and that he "took all the bullets out except one."

He also testified that Burge spun the cylinder and put the gun to Mu'min's head, and a second time put the gun to his forehead.

Mu'min went on to describe three choking incidents in which Mu'min said he passed out twice when Burge put a plastic typewriter cover in front of Mu'mins face.

"He pulled it down into my face," Mu'min testified.

Mu'min said he agreed to sign a confession after the third incident.

Under cross examination by Burge's attorney, Mu'min admitted he did not remember many details and dates.

Despite wearing glasses, Mu'min's glasses were apparently not damaged during the alleged incident.

"They weren't broke - they weren't bent?" asked Burge's attorney.

Mu'min replied that "they weren't on."

However, Mu'min could not remember where the glasses were during the alleged incident.

Mu'min also admitted that he called Burge several times after he was released from jail to get his car that had been impounded.

Prosecutors asked Mu'min to clarify in redirect questioning why Mu'min called Burge.

"He had informed me if I cooperated with him, he would get my car back," Mu'min said. He testified that he never got his car back.

It is expected that the jury will now hear between 15 and 20 witnesses, including possibly Burge himself, as defense attorneys are considering having their client testify.

Closing arguments are expected to begin next Monday or Tuesday.

Former cop: Burge's conduct with Mu'min not abusive

Prior to Mu'min's testimony and under immunity from prosecution, former cop Michael McDermott said Monday he never saw Burge put his gun to Mu'min's head nor suffocate him with a bag. He did admit on the stand that the interaction he witnessed between Burge and the suspect was probably reckless, but that it did not constitute abuse.

McDermott testified that he was granted immunity and ordered to testify truthfully by the judge. The retired officer said that he witnessed a scuffle in Lieutenant Burge's office between Mu'min and Lt. Burge during which a gun may have been pointed at Mu'min.

"It appeared it was pointed at him but from where I was it was hard to say," said McDermott.

He further testified that Burge put something that could have been a typewriter bag in Mu'min's face.

"I saw something in his hand, something clear in his hand, something briefly in front of his face. He approached, came up from the side or behind him. There was something in front of his face," McDermott said. "I don't think this is abusive in any way.

"I was shocked about the whole thing. I don't know why it happened. From what I saw, I thought it was inappropriate," McDermott said about the incident, which took place in the 1980s at Area 2.

Attorney Flint Taylor's law office has represented several men who accuse Burge of torture.

"This breaks ground for sure and is the first time the government or prosecutor has been successful in breaking the law of silence that has been so strong for so many years with regard to the Chicago Police Department and police torture," said Taylor.

Under cross examination, McDermott admitted he lied in other statements given under oath. Despite invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent previously, he felt he had to testify because if he were charged with perjury or obstruction of justice he would lose his pension and his current job with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

He said that he has since been suspended from the office after it became public knowledge that he was going to testify in this case. He said he believes he will likely lose his job as a result of testifying.

Also on Monday, McDermott said he testified in another case that he had laid hands on a suspect and knocked down the suspect because the suspect was confrontational.

In testimony before the operations of professional standards board, he said he lied because he thought the suspect had murdered someone and he didn't want that suspect to get off the hook.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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