--Not much really to say, except we will just have to wait and see what sticks--
By Jeremy Gorner, Tribune reporter contact the reporter
Father says indicted police commander cuffed him, hurt his infant for protesting another man's arrest
As he ate with his infant son and a friend at a South Side diner, Chas Byars says he was disturbed to see a lone plainclothes Chicago police officer suddenly grab another customer by the back of his shirt collar and drag him out of his booth.
Byars said he spoke up, telling the officer he didn't have to do that.
"Shut up, bitch, or you can go to jail too," Byars remembered then-Lt. Glenn Evans telling him almost three years ago.
Byars said he protested that he had done nothing wrong but that Evans quickly handcuffed him to the other customer. As Byars asked his friend to take his 4-month-old son to a relative's home, Evans announced that the boy would be going to the station as well and grabbed the baby carrier, jerking the infant out of his unstrapped seat and knocking his head onto the table, Byars said.
For the next 10 hours, Byars said, he was locked up, uncertain how badly his son had been hurt.
Byars, it turns out, was one of dozens of people over the past 81/2 years to complain about Evans' conduct, often for alleged excessive force, newly released internal Police Department records show. From January 2006 through July 2014 — a period in which Evans was promoted to lieutenant and then named one of only 22 district commanders — he amassed 36 complaints in all. Combined with previously released records, Evans has been the subject of at least a combined 50 complaints since 2001.
Evans was never disciplined as a result of any of those complaints except for a two-day suspension, records show, but more recent complaints remain under investigation.
According to a Tribune analysis of the records since 2006, Evans had far more complaints than anyone else of his rank and topped all but 34 officers for the entire 12,000-strong department. In fact, he continued to pile up complaints — nine in all — even after he was promoted by Superintendent Garry McCarthy to commander of the South Side's Grand Crossing police district in August 2012.
To his supporters, Evans, 52, has brought an admirable aggressiveness, work ethic and dedication to the job, often continuing to work the city's most dangerous streets as he rose through the ranks. A series of iconic Tribune photos captured Evans' style during NATO summit protests in May 2012 when the then-lieutenant was hit over the head with a wooden stick as he stood front and center with other officers fending off rowdy protesters.
But last month, Cook County prosecutors alleged that Evans went too far in an abandoned house in the Park Manor neighborhood. He was criminally charged on allegations he shoved his service weapon down a man's throat, pressed a Taser against his groin and threatened to kill him early last year. The next day, the alleged victim, Rickey Williams, filed a complaint against Evans, one of the 36 people to do so since 2006, records show.
Evans, who was the Grand Crossing commander at the time of the alleged incident, pleaded not guilty Wednesday at his arraignment on nine felony counts of official misconduct and aggravated battery.
Besides the dozens of complaints, Evans has been sued numerous times over the years over alleged misconduct. Without admitting wrongdoing, the city of Chicago has paid out a combined $226,250 to settle seven of the lawsuits, according to records released by the city. Among those settlements was $71,000 awarded to Byars and his son.
In addition, three lawsuits against Evans remain pending in federal court, including one filed just this month by Williams. In another, a freelance photographer who said he was taking pictures of police beating a demonstrator at the NATO summit alleged that Evans failed to intervene when officers struck him with batons and fists and smashed his cameras. A woman also alleged that Evans violently pressed his fist to her nose for several minutes when she resisted being fingerprinted in 2011, fracturing a facial bone and causing her to fear for her life.
The 1,046-page internal police document obtained by the Tribune through a Freedom of Information Act request marks the third list of so-called "repeater" officers — those with the worst record of complaints — to be released by the department since July. The disclosures come after a lengthy court battle ended when the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that complaints of Chicago police misconduct and the related investigative files, even those deemed "unfounded," were public records that must be turned over by the city. Before the decision, the city released only the outcomes of disciplinary cases in which officers were found at fault.
Evans was named as well on the earlier lists, which cover different time periods. On one list that singled out 662 officers with 11 or more complaints each from 2001 to 2006, Evans tallied 14 complaints. A more voluminous list of officers with five or more complaints each from May 2002 to December 2008 showed nine complaints of excessive force against Evans.
Except for the two-day suspension for an off-duty incident in 2005, none of the complaints against Evans on the three lists had been "sustained" by the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police misconduct allegations, or by its predecessor agency or the department's Internal Affairs Division, records show.
However, additional records obtained through FOIA requests show that earlier in his career Evans had been suspended from his duties at least 10 times, mostly while a young officer on the South Side. Half of those suspensions stemmed from excessive-force complaints, two of which resulted in separate 15-day suspensions, according to the records.
In an interview last week outside the South Side barbershop where he works, Byars, now 32, said he was eating a cheeseburger and fries at his favorite restaurant, Maxwell's Charcoal Grill in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, in October 2011 when Evans, wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and cargo pants, walked in calmly and pulled the patron by the collar from a booth. Assuming Evans was a cop, Byars said, he still felt compelled to complain.
"That's not necessary because he was roughing up the guy," Byars told the Tribune. "And once I said that, he turned to me and said, 'Shut up, bitch, or you can go to jail too.'"
Byars said he persisted, telling Evans he hadn't done anything wrong.
"And then he told me (to) stand my ass up," Byars said.
Byars said Evans handcuffed him to the other man, who was arrested on charges he illegally sold DVDs, according to a police report.
Byars said he asked a friend to take his son to the boy's grandmother's apartment but that Evans interrupted to say the boy would be going to the station as well and then turned over to state child welfare officials. Evans grabbed the carrier, causing the infant to lunge forward and land face first onto the table, Byars said. The crying boy nearly fell from the tabletop before Evans grabbed him and placed him in the seat, he said.
With his hands cuffed behind his back, Byars said, he was struck with a police radio above his left eye before he was pushed into a squad car.
At the Gresham police district station, Byars said, he wasn't allowed to use a phone or a bathroom, causing him to wet his pants during his 13-hour wait. Worse, he said, he was kept in the dark about his son's well-being.
Byars was charged with several misdemeanors, including obstructing an arrest and reckless conduct for allegedly failing to safely secure his son in the carrier, but those charges were later dropped. However, he pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer for refusing to sign a bond form in legible handwriting shortly before his release from the station about 1:30 a.m.
Byars said he learned from doctors at Comer Children's Hospital that his son had been shaken up but didn't suffer any lasting injuries. Byars, however, said his wounds didn't heal so easily. For months he worried about retaliation by police.
But he defended his actions, saying there's "never an excuse for excessive force or abuse of power."
Tribune reporter Alex Richards contributed.