Chicago Cop Under Investigation
Members of the Gay Liberation Network and attorneys for 22 people falsely arrested by a Town Hall District police officer released police videotape during a well attended press conference Tuesday showing that the officer trumped up the bogus charges.
Officer Richard Fiorito is charged with targeting lesbian and gay motorists for wrongful DUI arrests, and roughing up and verbally abusing some of them with anti-gay and lesbian slurs. The film released Tuesday shows a person passing sobriety tests, yet Fiorito arrested him and wrote a police report saying that the motorist couldn’t even complete the tests, let alone pass them.
GLN has been working with the falsely accused motorists and their attorney, Jon Erickson of Erickson & Oppenheimer, to raise community awareness about the civil rights violations and demand that the police department put Fiorito on desk duty pending the resolution of the charges against him.
In addition to police Internal Affairs and Independent Review Authority investigations and the twenty federal lawsuits already filed against Fiorito, another ten to twenty more suits are expected to be filed over the next several weeks. Given the ample evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the 22 lawsuits filed against him, GLN has also been demanding that the Cook County States Attorneys Office file criminal charges against Fiorito.
Anyone who’s ever been pulled over for suspicion of speeding or drunk driving knows that cops are human like the rest of us. Some can be downright disrespectful, belligerent and intimidating when dealing with a stressful situation. The video shown above was mounted on the squad car of officer Richard Fiorito. It shows Michael Vaughn, the man in the video, having a field sobriety test administered. Officer Fiorito alleges in his police report that Vaugn had trouble keeping his balance and raised his arms higher than instructed. His passenger was suspected to be in possesion of a small bag of marijuana, which has nothing to do with Vaughn and they were at the park after midnight. These were some of the reasons given for his initial suspicion. After completing the field test Vaughn was arrested and charged with a DUI.
Fiorito patrols the Lakeview community, which includes Boystown; a bastion of entertainment for gays and lesbians in the heart of Lakeview. It is the epicenter of gay entertainment in Chicago. He is accused of pulling over gays, lesbians, people with disabilities and heterosexuals who had anti-gay slurs directed at them despite being straight. There is a pending investigation against Fiorito that has been confirmed by the Independent Police Review Authority. This is in addition to the lawsuit brought against him by more than a dozen people so far.
A question I’ve often pondered is where are the good cops to stop the bad cops from misbehaving? One of the people arrested by Fiorito had this to say.
What the video fails to mention is that the transport officers from Town Hall to Area 3 were the ones who initially played the role of my legal counsel and advised me to immediately hire an attorney to look into his “well known pattern of being an overtime whore. In this respect I still maintain respect and admiration for the CPD as they were the immediate individuals who provided comfort and reassurance that I wasn’t the only one caught up in this drag net, and set me on the path for justice.
The city has a history of backing the police department even when abuse of power is evident and caught on video. The biggest crooks should be the crooks not a few rotten cops and most if not all politicians. You know the old saying, “some things never change.” That rings true here. The area Fiorito patrols experienced a wave of robberies over the summer and very few if any suspects were brought in to custody. Perhaps with the focus on making DUI arrests instead of protecting the people who live, work and play in the area from harm or worse it’s understandable how one can manage to rack up over 313 DUI arrests over an 18-month period. While the community he serves is victimized by actual criminals. It’s a bit unusual to accumulate quite so many DUI arrests, but for now this case is pending investigation and I’ll be following the story for the outcome.
A citizen’s personal safety should never be compromised for the sake of greed. There are plenty of good police officers and I understand that the majority of them do their job well and are serious about serving and protecting the Chicago community. However, violating trust as a public servant should carry severe consequences and the blue code of silence that keeps officers like this on the streets will eventually run its course.
One fellow cop declared:
“I’m so sick and tired of people like you to say that you pay our salaries.. Hello, we pay taxes too so in part we pay our own salaries. And for the person who left the bar, you stated that you were so tired that you yawned so how do you even remember if you failed to stop at a stop sign or red light. You could never walk a mile in our shoes because most of you are not fit to deal with the crap that we deal with. When you break the law, I don’t care who you are, you have pay the price like everyone else. I get so tired of “law abiding citizens” saying that they don’t break the law and that we need to catch the real criminals. A crime is a crime doesn’t matter what kind it is or who you are. Everyone has to abide by the law.”
What about the cop that broke the law while trying to break a female bartender’s face? He received no jail time when his sentence was carried out. It’s a sobering thought, but really, no one should be above the law.