Chicago Police Officers Jerome Finnigan and Timothy McDermott
The Chicago Police Department fought to keep private this horrendous photo
taken between 1999 and 2003 of Officers Jerome Finnigan and Timothy McDermott posing with a black man as if he were a dead deer.
Maybe it's because the cash-strapped city has already paid over a half a billion dollars in settlements because of police misconduct the past 10 years alone?
Maybe it's because it was recently revealed that the Chicago Police Department has a secret facility it has been using to harass people off the record?
Maybe it's because the City of Chicago just passed a reparations bill for the many victims their police have tortured?
Even more likely, though, is that they really didn't want the identity of these two officers in the spotlight.
Officer Jerome Finnigan
Officer Jerome Finnigan, pictured on the left, is in prison for ordering a hit on another officer. Known as one of the most corrupt officers in the history of the Chicago Police Department, details of his crimes—as part of the department's secretive Special Operations Section—continue to emerge to this day.
In his plea agreement, Finnigan stipulated that he unlawfully stopped and detained persons, conducted illegal searches, and arrested individuals based on false evidence.
SOS gained notoriety in 2006, when Finnigan and others were indicted for breaking into homes without warrants, and stealing money from and even kidnapping suspects. SOS was disbanded in 2007.
Another officer, Keith Herrera, is awaiting sentencing. Two other officers were federally convicted, and seven more officers were convicted of lesser state charges.
The most egregious theft listed in the article was when Finnigan and two partners stole $450,000. The group, according to the article, stopped a driver of a pickup truck and handcuffed and frisked him. Then, with guns drawn, they searched his house, finding a leather bag filled with bricks of cash. Finnigan split the money with the two officers.
The City of Chicago seems to want Finnigan, currently housed in a Florida prison, to keep quiet because he continues to implicate other officers who have never been held responsible for the roles they played in widespread corruption of the worst kind.
Finnigan, who pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2011, told Levin the group’s stealing from suspects was more widespread than what the public knows. He told Playboy he knows of 19 officers who stole cash and personal possessions during SOS searches.
The federal complaint
against Finnigan is mind-blowing. He openly discussed the different gang members and hitmen he would use to execute another officer who was giving him trouble. So prolific was Finnegan at corruption that he and the three officers he supervised accumulated over 200 internal affairs complaints
. 200? How the hell is that even possible without action being taken?
Nine years before Finnigan ever spent a day in prison, he and other officers, according to a civil suit, broke into the home of a man who turned out to be a Chicago fire-fighter and tortured him in front of his wife and kids. When the fire-fighter reported it, look at what happened:
The following day the plaintiff called the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") to report the incident. The next day, May 30, 2002, an investigator from the CPD came to plaintiff's home to discuss his complaint. The investigator told plaintiff that plaintiff was a drug dealer and that his complaint was "bogus."
A day or two later, the investigator returned to plaintiff's house and told him that if he pursued his complaint the police would cause him to lose his job. Plaintiff told the investigator that he would not pursue the case so long as the police did not arrest him, plant drugs on him, or have him fired. As the investigator left plaintiff's home, he told plaintiff, "just forget about this; otherwise kiss your job goodbye, and you're fucked."
Officer Timothy McDermott
Officer Timothy McDermott, pictured on the right, was able to not only get away with the consequences of this offensive photo for more than a decade, but the consequences of a long trail of corruption during his time with the SOS and as a detective for the CPD.
In an attempt to explain why he would take such a photo, McDermott's answer is as preposterous as it gets: He blamed his young age. But he was at the time a fully grown man, serving in a special unit of the CPD when the photo was taken.
“I am embarrassed by my participation in this photograph,” he said. “I made a mistake as a young, impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in.”
Strange, isn't it? How a grown man claims youth as a legitimate excuse for such racist ugliness, but young black men half his age are treated as full-fledged adults by officers daily.
McDermott has been defended by the powers-that-be at every turn. Even at a hearing over this photo, a former top cop defended him:
Phil Cline, the former police superintendent, spoke on behalf of McDermott, who had earned 74 department awards during his career. He called McDermott a “very hard-working policeman, the type of policeman I wanted working for us and his character was impeccable.”
Except, his character wasn't impeccable. Not at all.
McDermott served in the same corrupt private squad, the SOS, with Finnigan for four years. During that time, he was named in four different lawsuits.
The report against McDermott shows the great lengths so many people went to protect him.
In this lawsuit, Terrance Thompson, who had his sentence vacated after all the officers who arrested him were convicted for corruption, names McDermott as one of the officers who planted a gun on him and illegally detained him. As a consequence of a lawsuit, Thompson was eventually awarded $400,000 for the three years he spent in prison.
On August 21, 2002, officers from the Chicago Police Department’s Special Operations Section (SOS), including Timothy McDermott, arrested 46-year-old Gloria Salcedo and her daughters, 21-year-old Claudia Salcedo and 17-year-old Teresa Salcedo on charges of battery of a police officer.
Gloria Salcedo filed a lawsuit against Officer McDermott
and others and was exonerated after it was determined that the officers lied.
She is now listed in the National Registry of Exonerations.
According to the Chicago Sun Times:
McDermott is the stepson of former Chicago Police Deputy Supt. Thomas Byrne, who also spoke glowingly of him during the police board hearing. Byrne was a powerful figure within former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration and later went on to run the Department of Streets and Sanitation for Daley.
Court records show McDermott was a defendant in four federal lawsuits accusing him and other officers of misconduct while he was assigned to the Special Operations Section and later, when he was a detective.
The city paid settlements in three of the cases and a jury awarded damages in a fourth case — with a total payout of $162,000. The city also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, records show.
But the lawsuits did not come up at McDermott’s police board hearing.
While this photo is egregious, what's worse is that the Chicago Police Department has gone to great lengths to keep it and both officers in it out of the limelight.