'Chicago police' label on pit bull killing photo raises questions
Graphic photo circulated of man killed by pit bulls
By Maudlyne Ihejirika
CHICAGO — On Aug. 15, Charles Hagerman was mauled to death by his family's pitbulls.
On Aug. 17, a Chicago Police Department crime scene photo of the deceased man on the floor of his walk-up apartment in West Englewood began circulating.
Within days, the grisly photo of the African-American man — bloody, torn flesh and all — was posted on YouTube, marked, "CPD Photo. Do Not Forward."
Under that, was someone's idea of a joke: "Pit bull vs. dude at 56th & Racine in Englewood? Guess who won?"
Now, as Hagerman's anguished family demands answers, the Bureau of Internal Affairs is investigating whether the photo was leaked by a police officer.
One member of the Police Department said he received a text-message link to the YouTube posting and was completely appalled.
"On the picture, it says, 'Chicago Police file,' in bold print, 'Do not forward," said the police officer, who declined to be identified.
"One of the officers at the scene apparently forwarded the information, and it took off from there, and it's all over the Internet," the officer said. "The picture is there with the guy's neck literally torn out. It's disgraceful."
The Fraternal Order of Police was made aware of the photo, and does not condone the leaking of it or the ghastly joke, spokesman Pat Camden said.
"There's no way that picture should have been released," Camden said.
"That's a crime scene photo. The only way that got out, I would think, is through someone leaking it. A crime scene photo is supposed to be protected. I'm sure the department is investigating — as well it should be," he added.
Hagerman's family told the Sun-Times they'd owned Scrappy, a 3½-year-old pitbull, from a pup, and took in Scrappy's pup Rocco, a year and a half ago.
They said the dogs were familiar with all three members of the household, 44-year-old Hagerman, his wife, Charlotte Williams, and her son, Daryl Williams, and the family were at a loss to explain the attack.
In the weeks since, as their 5600 block of South Racine began buzzing about the photo, the family was again devastated. Charlotte Williams is distraught.
"A friend saw it on the Internet and told me about it," said her son, who had entered the home first on the night of Aug. 15, saw the carnage and quickly covered the body from his mother.
"I couldn't believe it," Daryl Williams said. "I haven't seen it, don't want to see it. It made me mad. I didn't tell my mom. She found out. It's crazy police would do something like that. I don't even really have the words."
"This is being investigated by the Bureau of Internal Affairs," according to Police News Affairs Lt. Maureen Biggane.
Copyright 2012 Sun-Times Media, LLC