Union: 17 Chicago cops 'lounging' in burgled office suspended
Security video showed officers resting in an empty campaign office amid unrest over the summer
By Jeremy Gorner
CHICAGO — Eighteen Chicago police officers have been disciplined for their roles in last year’s incident at U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s South Side campaign office, where cops were depicted on video making popcorn, drinking coffee and sleeping on a couch while nearby businesses were being looted amid civil unrest, officials said.
Of that group, seventeen officers were given suspensions and one was issued a reprimand, a light punishment that doesn’t result in any docked time, according to the Chicago Police Department. The department did not disclose the severity of the suspensions but said the officers have the option of appealing their punishment, per union contract rules.
The department initially refused to disclose to The Chicago Tribune on Thursday afternoon how many officers were disciplined in the incident, but did so after repeated inquiries. Officials would not, however, go into detail about the severity of the punishments, which is typically a public record.
The incident at Rush’s campaign office was captured on surveillance video during the early morning hours of June 1, a little more than 24 hours after major civil unrest spread throughout Chicago in the wake of George Floyd’s killing on Memorial Day by police in Minnesota.
The shopping center at 54th Street and Wentworth Avenue, where Rush’s campaign office is located on Chicago’s South Side, was looted on May 31, during the outbreak of crime in the city.
During a news conference in June, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the video of the officers began in the early morning hours of June 1, and the officers were there four or five hours. “That’s a personal embarrassment to me,” Lightfoot said then.
A Rush spokesman has said his staff learned about the building being burglarized on May 31, when the alarm system went off, but did not discover the police presence until two days later, when a security service provided video footage that was reviewed June 3.
Rush has said he got a call that his campaign office had been burglarized and later saw surveillance footage of officers “lounging in my office,” including three supervisors, with their feet up on desks and another asleep on the couch.
“They even had the unmitigated gall to go and 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 at the news conference.
City Hall did not release the video from inside Rush’s office, providing only selected screenshots in a slideshow that played behind the mayor during the news conference. The Police Department did not provide a timeline and would not say when the officers were inside Rush’s campaign office.
One police official at the news conference ripped the officers’ conduct as “absolutely indefensible,” saying that at the same time the officers were inside Rush’s office, others were standing shoulder to shoulder elsewhere in the city being pelted with rocks during the unrest.
At the time, John Catanzara, who leads Chicago’s largest police union, called the news conference “despicable” and said the looting at the shopping center was done by the time the officers shown in the images arrived.
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