Former Mayor Daley to be deposed on alleged torture

April 10, 2012 2:47:38 PM PDT
Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley will answer questions from lawyers about police torture, according to a lawyer who is suing the city over torture allegations.

Though he has been named in the past in other Jon Burge cases, the former mayor has been excused as a defendant. But, not in this case, and now -- for the first time in a Burge matter -- Daley will be put under oath to answer questions.

When Richard Daley was state's attorney, his office approved felony murder charges in more than four dozen cases investigated by now-imprisoned police commander John Burge and detectives under him. One of those cases involved Michael Tillman, who did nearly 24 years in prison for murder. Tillman was released January 2010 after prosecutors agreed that years ago he was tortured into making a false confession.

Tillman sued, naming Daley as one of his defendants. Now, for the first time, the former state's attorney and former mayor will be placed under oath and questioned about the Tillman case and torture tactics under Burge.

"I've always hoped that we would be able to question him and hold him as a defendant," said Tillman attorney Flint Taylor. "Now we've been able to hold him as a defendant, and if everything goes as expected, we will be able to question him in detail."

Attorneys in the Burge cases have long contended that Daley as then state's attorney had knowledge of the torture tactics, but did nothing to stop it. Daley has always insisted he was unaware.

"Do you think it would sit by and let anyone say that police brutality takes place, I know about it, that I had knowledge of it, that I would allow it?" Daley said in 2006. "Then you don't know my public career. You don't know what I stand for."

Daley made that remark to reporters after a special prosecutors' report was released on the Burge scandal six years ago. Burge has since been tried, convicted and sentenced to federal prison for lying about the case.

There is now the possibility that the civil suit, brought by Tillman, could ultimately go to trial.

"It will go to trial with Jon Burge. It will go to trial with the other detectives who tortured Michael Tillman, and it will go trial with Richard Daley as a defendant," Taylor said.

The city is paying for the former mayor's legal counsel. His lawyers have said they want to talk about the scope of the questioning during the deposition. Flint Taylor says he will resist limitations on the questions.

No date has been set yet for the deposition.