For years, a growing number of young Black men in Chicago complained of a White policeman who used various forms of physical abuse – burning, suffocating, shocking – to force crime confessions. That officer, former Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge, 63, vehemently denied the allegations during a civil case involving allegations of torture at the hands of Chicago police officers.
But on Jan. 21, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Burge, who now lives in Florida, was guilty of abusing at least 100 Black men and he was sentenced to 54 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for lying in a deposition.
According to the DOJ, Burge was convicted of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury last June. Those charges came from lies he told during a civil case in 2003, when Burge denied “using, or being aware of other officers using, any type of improper coercion, physical abuse or torture with suspects” in custody at Chicago’s Area Two police department. But evidence showed Burge suffocated multiple victims with plastic bags, threatened suspects with a gun and shocked them with electrical equipment.
“Burge abused his power and betrayed the public trust by abusing suspects in his custody, and then by lying under oath to cover up what he and other officers had done,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, in a press release. “The department will aggressively prosecute any officer who violates the Constitution.”