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CPD Discipline Process Under Microscope As Chicago Cops Face Misconduct Complaints

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Police Department's discipline process is under the microscope.

So is the review process of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and so is the police union's defense of the sometimes defenseless.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made it a mission to get rid of bad cops, even calling for the firing of one who flipped off protestors. That had us wondering about other officers. We start with James Hunt. You may remember him.

Kenneth Lee: "You say you trying to shoot m*****f******?

Officer Hunt: "No, I kill m*****f******."

Brad Edwards met up with Kenneth Lee and his mother, Robin Washington, in that same spot where profanity was used by Officer Hunt in 2018.

Lee's mother recalls the day, July 3, 2018 when that verbal exchange with a Chicago Police officer was captured by her son, using his cell phone camera.

Kenneth Lee: "You say you trying to shoot m*****f******?

Officer Hunt: "No, I kill m*****f******."

As of July 16, 2020, Officer James A. Hunt remains on active duty status.

"I pray for the young Black men. I pray for them because he's a bad, bad cop," said Washington.

Hunt remains on the job, two years after that incident, despite a one-year recommended suspension by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA.

CBS 2 cameras captured him reporting for duty one recent afternoon.

Nearly a year after the incident, in June 2019, Lee received a $100,000 settlement from the city, six figures funded by taxpayers.

Lee remembers how the incident started, "I see he accelerated and so I asked him ... 'What, you trying to hit me?' And, he replied..."

Officer Hunt: "No, I kill m*****f******."

The encounter happened at the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Officer Hunt followed Lee into the park, baiting him.

"That's when he said, 'I have a Snapchat too.' I said, 'No, you don't.' He said...."

Officer Hunt: "Yeah, I do. It's called, I f***** your momma."

"He wanted Ken to react from it," said Washington said.

Officer Hunt: "I already said it r*****."
Kenneth Lee: "All right, stop talking to me now."
Officer Hunt: "Nope."

Officer Hunt eventually mocked the killing of Lee's friend.

Officer Hunt: "How's Little G doing?"

Lee then bit back about the murder of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer.

Kenneth Lee: "How's that officer that got killed doing?"
Officer Hunt: "Which one?"
Kenneth Lee: "The one that got shot."
Officer Hunt: "I just think you said we could die."
Kenneth Lee: "Are you arresting me?"
Officer Hunt: "Yep. For assault."

Kenneth Lee was falsely arrested. The trumped-up charges were tossed later that year.

At the time, with less than six years on the force, Officer Hunt ranked in the top one percent of officers when it came to use of force complaints compared to years of service according to the Invisible Institute.

From 2014 through 2020, the CBS 2 Investigators tallied fully two dozen misconduct complaints against Hunt, logged by COPA. The most recent was filed on June 19.

We learned when Hunt was still a CPD rookie back in 2014, he killed 17-year-old DeSean Pittman. Hunt said Pittman pointed a gun at him after killing another man.

We showed Pittman's grandmother the autopsy report.

"Oh my God. Who shoots a human being like this?" questioned Bonnette Jernigan.

The Independent Police Review Authority or IPRA, COPA's precursor, concluded, "P.O. Hunt's use of deadly force was reasonable" – as initially were all but one of the hundreds of CPD officer involved shootings investigated by IPRA between 2007 and 2014.

Again, we saw Officer Hunt reporting for duty, working Area South Gangs.

"With absolutely no repercussions," said attorney Jeffrey Neslund.

Neslund represented Kenneth Lee and the family of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times – murdered by now imprisoned former officer Jason Van Dyke.

Neslund also filed a new excessive force lawsuit against CPD Officer Wilfredo Ortiz. Officer Ortiz in 2014 shot three siblings. That incident cost the city $7.77 million. The U.S. Department of Justice used that as an example of what's wrong with CPD.

Ortiz? Still a cop.

"He was never punished. He was never reprimanded and he's still out on the street and we just filed a new excessive force case against him," said Neslund.

And Neslund has the body cam video showing Officer Ortiz tackling the plaintiff from behind.

Neslund now also represents Alice Martin, who spoke to CBS 2 in her first ever interview.

"As a mother," said a tearful Martin. "As a mom, it's like there's a bit of hatred there."

She's talking about what happened in February 2019 to her son.

Michael Elam Jr., 17, was a passenger in a car on the way to a Valentine's dinner with his girlfriend.

Martin's federal lawsuit claims it all started when police pursued the car for a traffic offense at high speed. The car crashed and the people inside ran, including Elam.

The only occupant shot was Elam.

Dispatcher: "Are you guys okay?"
Officer Guillermo Gama: "Uh, cops are okay."

"This young man was shot twice in the back, once in the back of the head and the officers never requested an ambulance," said Neslund.

The legal team obtained body camera video of the aftermath. It was video from the body camera of one of the two officers involved, Officer Guillermo Gama. Other officers who arrived on scene asked about an ambulance.

Unknown Officer: "You got an ambulance coming?"
Dispatcher: "Negative."

It took more than four minutes from the shooting to order an ambulance. Elam was still alive. Finally:

Unknown Officer: (inaudible) Need an ambulance."
Dispatcher: "You didn't tell us that. We'll get 'em rolling."
Unknown Officer: We have an offender shot."
Dispatcher: "Oh boy. Okay. All right. 10-4."

In the end, Elam was shot three times by Officer Adolfo Bolanos. Bolanos' partner, Officer Guillermo Gama:

Unknown Officer: "Where's he shot at?"
Officer Gama: "In the head, brother."
Unknown Officer: "What?"
Officer Gama: "Shot in the head, man. I think he's shot here too." (pointing at Elam's back)

An X-ray shows one bullet lodged in Elam's brain. The autopsy report shows the other two bullet wounds in his back.

The body cam video shows Officer Gama reaching Elam within a few seconds of getting out of his police car. Elam is already on the ground. It shows Officer Gama feverishly flipping the young man, picking apart his clothes, apparently looking for a gun?

The body cam video does show a gun on the ground, but on the other side of the car.

"What's troubling about after the shooting is eventually the Sergeant arrives and their Captain," said Neslund.

Sergeant Gonzalo DeLuna asks:

Sgt. DeLuna: "Is your camera on still?"
Officer Gama: "I turned it on as soon as I jumped out of the car."

Officer Bolanos, who shot Elam three times in the back, never turned on his camera.

"It doesn't mean a thing if the officers on the street aren't going to activate the body cams when they're supposed to," said Neslund.

Capt. Joseph Brennan: "Just you and Bolanos?"
Officer Gama: "It was just me and Bolanos."
Capt. Joseph Brennan: "Are you on?"
Officer Gama: "Yes, I'm on."
Capt. Joseph Brennan: "Can you turn it off?"
Officer Gama: "Okay."

On that day, back in 2018, Officer James Hunt never turned on his body cam.

Kenneth Lee: "You say you trying to shoot m*****f******?
Officer Hunt: "No, I kill m*****f******."

"Why would you want someone on your police force who goes around bragging about killing people? It's just absurd," said Neslund.

CBS 2 Investigators have asked about Hunt since Mayor Lightfoot was candidate Lightfoot, since, now three police superintendents ago.

On March 1, 2019, former Supt. Eddie Johnson told us, "It would be inappropriate for me to comment."

On March 27, 2019 in a mayoral debate, Lightfoot said: "I have serious questions of the superintendent of why the Officer wasn't stripped of his police powers."

On January 13, 2020, Interim Supt. Charlie Beck said: "That investigation is working its way to me and I will make a decision."

Beck went back to Los Angeles.

Lightfoot became Mayor.

Johnson is now not the super.

And since that 2018 park incident with Kenneth Lee, COPA has investigated Officer Hunt another 11 times – three cases sent to Internal Affairs, three cases closed, four cases still pending. One, so far, was sustained for an improper search.

Officer Hunt: "It's Hunt. 11442. There you go."

Kenneth Lee says other CPD officers still pull him over about a once a week.

Officer Hunt: "Don't try to film me, dude."

"It's about what you can prove and not what you know," said Lee.

Officer Hunt and all other sworn members of CPD mentioned in this report remain on full duty status, including Captain Brennan who was at the scene where Elam was shot fatally in the back by an officer.

Remember Capt. Brennan's body camera order?

Capt. Joseph Brennan: "Are you on?"
Officer Gama: "Yes, I'm on."
Capt. Joseph Brennan: "Can you turn it off?"
Officer Gama: "Okay."

On Wednesday, there was a major promotion. Captain Brennan became Commander Brennan. Commander of the 24th District in Rogers Park.

CPD refused to comment on the current lawsuits.

COPA records show Officer Ortiz has two other pending cases, one of those, CPD says, is in the hands of the CPD Superintendent.

And Officer Hunt is appealing the two sustained cases against him.

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