A Chicago police commander frequently praised by Supt. Garry McCarthy for his no-nonsense approach to fighting crime in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods was charged Wednesday with placing the barrel of his gun into a suspect’s mouth.
Cmdr. Glenn Evans, who headed the West Side’s Harrison patrol district until he was relieved of his police powers, faces one count of aggravated battery and one count of official misconduct, according to Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
As recently as Monday, McCarthy offered a vigorous defense of Evans, whose case represents a new scandal for a department with a long history of abuse allegations. But after the charges were announced, the superintendent released a statement:
“The alleged actions, if true, are unacceptable to the both the residents we serve and to the men and women of this department. As soon as we were made aware of the charges Commander Evans was relieved of his police powers, pending the outcome of this matter. Like any private citizen, the commander is innocent until proven guilty and we need to allow this case to proceed like any other. We will cooperate fully with prosecutors.”
Evans is scheduled to appear in Bond Court on Thursday. He could not be reached for comment.
The allegations, first reported by WBEZ radio, stem from an arrest Evans and at least two of his officers made on Jan. 30, 2013 while on patrol in the Park Manor neighborhood. At the time, Evans was the commander of the South Side’s Grand Crossing patrol district.
Evans and the officers saw Rickey J. Williams, 24, standing near 71st Street and Eberhart Avenue and holding a blue steel handgun in his right hand, according to a police report. Evans approached Williams, who then ran away.
After briefly losing sight of him, police arrested Williams in an abandoned home, the report states. No gun was found on Williams, but he was arrested and charged with reckless conduct, a misdemeanor. The case was dropped a few months later.
Williams is out of parole on other charges.
It was unclear at what point Evans allegedly placed the barrel of his service weapon into the suspect’s mouth. DNA from the man was found on Evans’ gun, according to a State Police lab report.
The Independent Police Review Authority, which looks into allegations of excessive force and other misconduct by Chicago police officers, investigated the gun-in-mouth complaint and recommended that Evans be relieved of his police powers until the case was resolved, but McCarthy left him in his position. The agency also forwarded its findings to Cook County prosecutors for possible criminal charges.
Evans is among 662 officers with 11 or more complaints during a five-year period in the 2000s, newly released police records show. He had 14 complaints between 2001 and 2006 and faced no discipline for any of them, the records show.
He has also been named as a defendant in a number of police misconduct lawsuits.
Among his peers, Evans has a reputation as an aggressive boss who works around the clock and often with regular officers on the streets in some of Chicago's worst neighborhoods. He has been publicly praised by McCarthy, who promoted Evans to the rank of commander in 2012.
During an unrelated news conference Monday at a West Side police station, McCarthy gave a stern response to a reporter when asked whether he supported Evans despite IPRA’s recommendation to have him relieved of his police powers.
“I'm not going to answer that question. That’s absurd. Do I support him? If I didn’t support him, he wouldn’t be there,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy continued to defend Evans, explaining how the commander was working through two high-profile incidents in his district over the weekend: the accidental shooting of a 3-year-old boy, and the shooting of an armed teenager by police that sparked protests.
“I'm sorry, do you know that Cmdr. Evans was working from 9 o’clock Friday morning until about midnight Saturday ...? You don’t,” McCarthy said. “And you also don’t know that Cmdr. Evans was on the scene of the police-related shooting last night on Sunday evening to ensure that there was not a problem on the streets. So you really should have some context when you ask questions like that.”
Prior to his promotion to commander, Evans was the tactical lieutenant in the Gresham patrol district, helping fight gang violence and drug activity.
As a lieutenant, he was also shown in a series of iconic Tribune photos during NATO summit protests in May 2012. The collection of photos shows Evans front-and-center, getting hit over the head with a wooden stick while fending off rowdy protesters just south of downtown.
Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas contributed.Copyright © 2015, RedEye