CHICAGO (CBS) -- The city has kept decades of police misconduct records under wraps, and is now willing to pay half a million dollars of your taxpayer money to keep it that way.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Monday, some aldermen are willing to agree to the payout – but with a big stipulation.
Many aldermen want to make sure those 50-plus years of all police misconduct files are eventually made public – no matter what.
But the attorney for the man who got this ball rolling is skeptical, saying even during the City Council Finance Committee meeting on Monday that a city attorney did not give aldermen all the correct facts.
On Jan. 12, 1985, police discovered the burned bodies of Raynard Rule, Lauren Rule, and Yvonne Brooks in a second-floor apartment at 458 N. Hamlin Ave. in the East Garfield Park neighborhood – now the site of an empty lot. A fourth victim, Kim Brooks, also later died.
Charles Green, then 16, was eventually found guilty of getting one victim to open the door to a murderous ambush committed by two other men and was sentenced to life in prison.
"There's never been a case of more obvious innocence," said Jared Kosoglad, Green's attorney.
Kosoglad said Green, released from prison in 2009 after a judge ruled critical victim testimony was not allowed at his trial, began fighting to clear his name. That included filing a Freedom of Information Act request, or FOIA, for all Chicago Police misconduct records dating back to 1967.
Green then sued for the records after the city failed to respond to that FOIA, as required by law.
On Monday, City Council Finance Committee members voted to give Green $500,000 to make his lawsuit go away.
"After you've been through what Charles has been through, that kind of an opportunity does not come along twice. So he needs to take it for his own wellbeing," Kosoglad said. "And I know that he is overwhelmed, and I am overwhelmed, about the fact that these records will not come out as a result of Charles' litigation."
Kosoglad said city attorney Renai Rodney lied when she told aldermen the settlement was Green's idea.
"They initiated it," Kosoglad said.
And many aldermen voted yes to the payout, and potential record suppression, reluctantly.
"Are we missing an opportunity for transparency?" said Ald. Sophia King (4th).
"We need to have a schedule where we produce the closed cases and have a timeline," said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).
"We can't continue, you know, just, pause, pause, pause," said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th).
So as a result, Finance Committee Chairman Scott Waguespack (32nd) promised to work up legislation that guarantees a timeline for the release of those police misconduct records – an ordinance he said he will introduce at Wednesday's full City council meeting before the body votes on the settlement.
But introducing such an ordinance does not guarantee it will pass, meaning those records could stay out of the public's sight forever.
Kosoglad is skeptical, pointing to the millions spent over the years to keep those misconduct cases and files secret.
Other aldermen want guarantees such as an ordinance that would move forward before casting the final vote on Green's settlement.
Misconduct records from 2011 onward have been released.
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