Chicago Investigator Fired After Claiming Police Shootings Not Justified

The Chicago investigator refused to change his findings when his superiors ordered him to do so.

WBEZ 91.5 has published a local story about a Chicago investigator that is well worth your time and attention: “City fires investigator who found cops at fault in shootings.”

A Chicago investigator who determined that several civilian shootings by police officers were unjustified was fired after resisting orders to reverse those findings, according to internal records of his agency obtained by WBEZ.

Scott M. Ando, chief administrator of the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, informed its staff in a July 9 email that the agency no longer employed supervising investigator Lorenzo Davis, 65, a former Chicago police commander. IPRA investigates police-brutality complaints and recommends any punishment.

Davis’s termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis’s job performance, accused him of “a clear bias against the police” and called him “the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS,” as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.

Since its 2007 creation, IPRA has investigated nearly 400 civilian shootings by police and found one to be unjustified.

It is impossible to say with certainty that the chief administrator is wrong about the Chicago investigator. Perhaps Davis is biased. But it does seem strange that management would consider itself knowledgeable enough about cases to order an investigator to change his findings. If the managers are so wise and all-knowing then why even bother with the investigator?

Also, why would Davis be so biased? He is a 23-year police veteran. If anything you would think he might be biased in favor of the police.

Perhaps Davis’ own words explain his bias or lack thereof:

As a commander, he headed detective units, the department’s Austin district and, finally, its public-housing unit. He retired from the department in 2004.

“I did not like the direction the police department had taken,” Davis said. “It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do. The discipline was no longer there.”

So does this prove he was biased, or that he had a constancy of character that kept him from joining in with a multitude doing evil?

Davis says he helped investigate more than a dozen shootings by police at the agency. He says his superiors had no objections when his team recommended exonerating officers. The objections came, he says, after each finding that a shooting was unjustified. He says there were six of those cases.

“They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot,” Davis said about those officers. “They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force.”

So where does that leave us? Uncertain, at least. The whole point of having an organization investigate police shootings—or even a fatality after police “hog-tie” a man—is to serve as an independent evaluator and thus assure the public that the police are accountable. If that organization can simply fire a Chicago investigator because he won’t change his conclusions, we have no way of knowing if he is biased against the police or if the organization is trying to serve as a rubber stamp for the police.

Which means the organization can provide no assurance to the public.