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article imageChicago top cop on trial for putting gun in suspect's mouth

By Megan Hamilton     Dec 9, 2015 in Crime
Chicago - Chicago's highest-ranking police official went on trial Tuesday on charges that he allegedly assaulted a suspect with his gun while he was on duty.
The trial is happening in the midst of intense public scrutiny over the death of Laquan McDonald.
A dashcam video released last month showed a white Chicago police officer shooting the black teen 16 times, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Officer Jason Van Dyke allegedly fired several of the shots after McDonald, 17, fell mortally wounded. In the hours after the video's release, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, on the order of a Cook County judge. The killing took place in October 2014.
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation of the nation's third-largest city police department, especially in regards to its use of force, Reuters reports. Evans' trial comes just one day after the DOJ announced its investigation.
Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans, praised by some for his crime fighting in some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods "crossed the line" and committed criminal conduct when he allegedly put the gun into the alleged suspect's mouth, a prosecutor alleged on Tuesday.
Rickey Williams.
Rickey Williams.
Screen grab YouTube Romanucci and Blandin LLC.
Evans was relieved of his duties last year pending the outcome of the case. He is charged with alleged aggravated battery and official misconduct in the arrest of Rickey Williams, 25. The arrest occurred on Jan. 30, 2013, and both men are black.
Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Frank Lamas told Judge Diane Cannon at the start of the trial that Evans' actions had "no legal justification."
"The defendant clearly crossed the line, hiding behind his badge and commander's title," Lamas said. Prosecutors also alleged that Evans placed a Taser against Williams' groin while he was arrested for reckless conduct, Reuters reports.
But Laura Morask, Evans' defense attorney, said Williams had previously named another officer, and added that the case was "built on nothing." She also said Williams mouth showed no signs of injury from the alleged assault.
Williams testified on Tuesday, frequently saying that he couldn't recall the details of the arrest or subsequent interviews by investigators.
Evans was removed from his commander's post when authorities allegedly found DNA from Williams on the barrel of the police officer's .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun, Vice News and Reuters reports.
Evans' attorneys have countered that the DNA only means that Williams came into contact with the service weapon as he was being arrested, the Chicago Tribune notes.
At an August hearing, Canon, formerly a veteran prosecutor, also seemed to question the DNA's significance.
"Who would hand over evidence of a crime willingly?" she asked in regards to Evans handing over his gun to investigators at police headquarters.
Evans' attorneys told the judge last week that they plan to make the service weapon a defense exhibit at the trial. The gun was returned to Evans after the DNA had been recovered.
The defense has reportedly said that an investigation conducted by the Independent Police Review Authority into the alleged assault was tainted by an investigator who was later fired. The IPRA investigates serious allegations of police misconduct, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Local media report that Evans has allegedly been implicated in several police misconduct lawsuits, Reuters reports.
A series of controversial police killings of black men in U.S. cities has spurred national debate on the amount of force that can be used by police.
Chicago police have also released another video on Tuesday that shows a man in custody being Tasered and dragged out of his cell by his handcuffs. The incident occurred in 2012. The man in the video, Philip Coleman, later died at a hospital. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the incident is under investigation. Coleman's family is suing the city.
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