An independent investigator tasked with reviewing police shootings in Chicago has been fired after resisting orders to reverse his findings implicating the actions of officers as “unjustified.”
65-year-old Lorenzo Davis served in the Chicago police department for 23 years. As a commander, he headed detective units, and the department’s Austin district and public-housing unit.
He retired from the department in 2004 but was hired as an Independent Police Review Authority investigator in 2008 to probe police brutality complaints and recommend punishments.
That was until July 9, when IPRA chief administrator Scott M. Ando, revealed in an email that Davis had been fired.
The termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis’s job performance, accused him of “a clear bias against the police” and called him “the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to [officer-involved shootings.]”
Davis says he helped investigate more than a dozen shootings by police at the agency and that his superiors had no objections when his team recommended exonerating officers.
The objections came, he says, after each finding that a shooting was unjustified – six in total.
“They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot,” Davis said of officers. “They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force.”
Through most of his IPRA tenure, Davis’s performance evaluations were positive. They called him an “effective leader” and an “excellent team player.”
The final evaluation, issued June 26, however, said he “is clearly not a team player.”
The performance evaluation covered 19 months and concluded that Davis “displays a complete lack of objectivity combined with a clear bias against the police in spite of his own lengthy police career.”
“Things began to turn sour, I would say, within the last year,” Davis said. “Chief Administrator Ando began to say that he wanted me to change my findings. I did not like the direction the police department had taken. It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do. The discipline was no longer there.”
The IPRA has called Davis’ allegations “baseless and without merit,” and said the agency “is committed to conducting fair, unbiased, objective, thorough and timely investigations of allegations of police misconduct and officer-involved shootings.”
Since its 2007 creation, IPRA has investigated nearly 400 civilian shootings by police. Apart from cases reviewed by Davis, only one other incident has been deemed “unjustified.”