Report: Emanuel could pay alleged torture victims

August 16, 2011 9:25:36 AM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says it is time to end one of the ugliest chapters in the history of the Chicago Police Department, according to a published report.

The mayor was referring to the police torture cases of convicted former Commander Jon Burge. In a Chicago Sun-Times report, Emanuel talked about possibly compensating alleged victims of police torture under Burge's supervision.

"I know we can settle -- and we're working towards that," Emanuel told the Sun-Times for a story published Tuesday. "Settlement is a possibility."

At least six lawsuits are pending that accuse former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge or his officers of beating, kicking and shocking suspects -- almost all of them black or Latino-- into giving confessions from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Attorneys say 15 men with torture claims against Burge or his officers are still incarcerated, and several others have been released from prison and exonerated.

Burge-related cases have cost the city an estimated $43 million and counting, including a nearly $20 million settlement for four alleged torture victims. The lawsuits typically name Burge, the city and the police department, among others, and taxpayers are funding the defense.

The city's law department has said an appeals court ruling mandates that Burge's legal fees be covered because he was working for the city when the alleged misconduct occurred.

Burge was fired from the police department in 1993 over the 1982 beating and burning of Andrew Wilson, a suspect later convicted of killing two police officers. Burge has never faced criminal charges for abuse.

He was, however, convicted last year of lying about whether he'd ever seen or participated in torture. He's serving a 4 1/2-year sentence at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.

The mayor says it is time to settle the 30-year-old issue.

"It is time we end it," he said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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