The Police Torture Scandal: A Who's Who | Politics | Chicago Reader

The Police Torture Scandal: A Who's Who 

4. Buried It

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Since the first reports of Chicago police torture surfaced a quarter century ago the list has swelled to nearly 200 cases involving dozens of public employees—and still no one has been prosecuted. Now, with the results of a four-year, multimillion dollar investigation due any day, here’s a guide by staff reporter John Conroy to the key figures in the scandal. Some of them may look familiar.

Terry Hilliard

AP/Charles Bennett

TERRY HILLARD, THOMAS NEEDHAM, and GAYLE SHINES

In 1998, while serving as general counsel to police superintendent Terry Hillard, Needham learned that outgoing Office of Professional Standards chief Gayle Shines had reopened nine investigations into the Burge gang’s torture of suspects, that charges had been sustained in some of those cases, and that after Shines left her post the documents, critical to the defense of some men sentenced to death, had been found boxed up in her office, gathering dust.

In a 1999 deposition, Needham said he didn’t read the files but instead looked at the names of the accused, the findings, and the dates of the investigators’ activity. On August 31, 1998, he issued a memo saying that all the charges in all the cases would be regarded as “not sustained,” a move supported by Superintendent Hillard. In his deposition Needham said it wasn’t fair to the police department to do otherwise. “No organization can operate effectively if they’re continually looking back,” he said. “Healthy organizations have to move forward.” Those particular files were later released as a result of a federal lawsuit in which the Reader intervened.

Hillard, also deposed in 1999, was asked about the Goldston report, the 1990 OPS report that concluded that torture was a regular occurrence at Area Two and named “players.” Hillard replied, “I don’t know nothing about the Goldston report.”

Needham is now an attorney in private practice. Shines heads an investigations and internal audits department at Chicago City Colleges. Hillard retired as superintendent in August 2005.


An archive of John Conroy's reporting on the police torture scandal is available at chicagoreader.com/policetorture.

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