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Sheriff's Dept. Documents Confirm Gay-Bashing by Guards

Activists to Protest at Merit Board 9 a.m. Today

In what occupation can you...

1) Physically attack a member of the public...

2) Be found guilty by your boss of this beating...

3) Be found guilty by your boss of lying about the attack...

4) And then have this same boss insist on keeping you on the job?

Welcome to the surreal world of the Cook County Sheriff's Department!

On October 28, 1999 Cook County Sheriff deputies attacked Terry Phalen while processing him into the 26th and California jail. Terry, who is a bit deaf, didn't hear the deputies when they told prisoners to put their hands behind their backs. The deputies slugged Phalen in the face for not doing as he was told. When another prisoner suggested that Phalen is Gay, guards started calling him "fag," "queer" and "cocksucker," and dramatically intensified their beating, kicking him repeatedly while he lay crumpled on the floor of the jail.

Over a year ago the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network (CABN) reported that hospital records confirmed Phalen's account of the beating by sheriff's deputies. The People's Law Office currently is pursuing a civil case on Phalen's behalf.

Now, internal sheriff's department documents recently obtained by CABN show that six witnesses located by a sheriff's department investigator independently confirmed the essentials of Phalen's story. The documents show that the department's command channel review found three sheriffs deputies -- Emiliano R. Valencia (#4545), Joseph M. Passarella (#4879), and Michael J. Harrington (#4996) -- guilty of beating Phalen and then lying about it to the Sheriff's Dept. investigator, Thomas L. Swaine.

Despite finding the officers guilty of physical brutality and lying about it, Swaine recommended that rather being fired, that each of them get only 20 day suspensions without pay. Swaine's superiors approved his recommendation, but the three guards are now appealing the decision...for being too severe.

“We find it outrageous that the Sheriff's Department would allow known batterers to stay in positions where they can continue to use their authority to attack others in the future,” said CABN’s Bob Schwartz. “Does the County need more lawsuits concerning the conduct of Valencia, Passarella and Harrington before it fires these brutal officers? When the Sheriff's Department's own internal investigation finds officers guilty of brutality, why is it that Cook County States Attorney Dick Devine once again won't file criminal charges against law enforcement officers who gay-bash?”

“How can the States Attorney’s office justify its multiple conflicts of interest?: prosecuting the sheriff’s deputies on internal department charges while defending the county in a civil suit concerning the same attack, while at the same time being responsible for bringing criminal charges against the attackers.”

Activists with CABN will protest at the next meeting of the Cook County Merit Board, 9 a.m., Thursday, April 26 at 69 W. Washington, Lower Level Conference Room B. The Merit Board is the body charged by state law with disciplining brutal and crooked deputies. Activists will demand that they fire these deputies which their own investigators have found guilty of brutality. Activists will also demand that the attackers be criminally prosecuted by Cook County States Attorney Dick Devine, the way that a person in any other occupation would be.

For more information call CABN at 773.878.4781.



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