Video: Chicago police officers 'lounging,' sleeping in Bobby Rush's office during looting, rep says; business owners dismayed

CPD launches internal investigation; COPA also investigating video

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Friday, June 12, 2020
Looted business owners dismayed by video of CPD officers 'lounging' in Rep. Rush's office
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Business owners in the same strip mall as Rush's office said the officers' lack of action is hurtful and disrespectful in this turbulent time.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An internal investigation is underway after Chicago police officers were seen on video inside Congressman Bobby Rush's office on the South Side after it had been broken into.

Businesses owners in Grand Boulevard Plaza, which was widely vandalized and looted and where Rush's office is located, are calling the alleged actions disrespectful and hurtful during turbulent times.

Surveillance pictures from inside Congressman Bobby Rush's campaign office at 54th Street and Wentworth Avenue, which had been looted earlier, show more than a dozen Chicago police officers lounging in the office for hours, sleeping, popping popcorn, all while looting was going on throughout the city.

"They even had the unmitigated gall to make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn, my popcorn, in my microwave while looters were tearing apart businesses. Within their sight and within their reach," Rush said.

WATCH: Full press conference with Mayor Lightfoot, Supt. Brown, Rep. Rush

Three supervisors and 10 officers were captured on the video, and spent four or five hours in the office. Though it's unclear if the officers witnessed active looting, steps from the office on the other side of the window are several stores that were pillaged in the strip mall.

Now business after business is boarded up, just steps away from the office.

"They pretty much wasn't doing their jobs," said Derrick Noel, manager of Hair Experts. "They just allowed everything to go on like this. And this is the result of lack of respect for the community."

While most businesses remain closed, a few are open. Noel's barbershop was looted on June 1, the same morning police were captured on camera, but he was able to reopen and is back to cutting hair.

"You could have blocked off our businesses," he said. "You could have blocked off our mall. Any type of extra anything would have been a great assistance to us. We don't have any window. We have what, one window."

The pictures are from the early morning hours of June 1 and it is unclear if the officers witnessed active looting near the office. Several stores at the strip mall where the office is located were looted.

Business leaders in the neighborhood said there's more to the problem than just video of cops allegedly laying down on the jobs - much more.

"Systemic racism is an issue," said Donna Hampton-Smith, Washington Park Chamber of Commerce. "And I think our mayor needs to dig deeper and find out who are the other players that have been sleeping."

The head of Chicago's police union defended the officers, saying Rush's staff members requested protection and told the officers to make themselves at home. Congressman Rush and his staff refuted that, saying they never called police to come to their office.

RELATED: FOP president defends officers shown lounging in Rep. Rush's office

Congressman Rush and Mayor Lightfoot both went on cable news Thursday night to express outrage.

"These are absolutely a bunch of cowards in blue uniforms," Rush said. "They should apologize to the citizens of this city."

"It's really quite mindboggling and it's almost impossible to believe that it's true, but yet we have five hours of video tape documenting exactly what happened," Mayor Lightfoot said. "It is one of the most disgraceful, disrespectful things that I have ever seen and we are absolutely not going to tolerate it."

Rush went to the mayor with the video this week. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said all of them will face disciplinary action.

WATCH: Questions and answer session with Mayor Lightfoot, Supt. Brown, Rep. Rush

"This kind of conduct means, if you sleep during a riot, what do you do on a regular shift when there's no riot?" Supt. Brown wondered.


The involvement of three supervisors was even more disturbing to the mayor and superintendent, as it casts doubt on the integrity of police leadership.

"The same time these 13 officers were popping popcorn, taking a nap, relaxing inside this office, I was standing shoulder to shoulder on State Street as we got pounded by rocks from rioters," said First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio.

"What makes you comfortable enough that supervisors won't hold you accountable? That means sergeants, lieutenants, commanders, chiefs, deputy chiefs need to step up or step out," Brown said. "I'm not playing."

Mayor Lightfoot said she'll push for a change in state law requiring officers to be licensed.

"If we don't harness this moment to rethink what serving and protecting means, we will never do it," Lightfoot said.

Chicago Police Internal Affairs and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability are both investigating the incident.

Brown and Lightfoot said they are in the process of identifying all 13 CPD officers and supervisors involved. Their identities have not yet been released.