A Chicago police commander who had been praised for his work in high-crime areas was found not guilty on Monday of battery for putting a gun in a suspect’s mouth, prosecutors said.
A judge found Glenn Evans, 53, not guilty following a bench trial last week for aggravated battery and official misconduct in the 2013 arrest of Rickey Williams, 25, according to a spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Evans had been relieved of his duties last year pending the outcome of his case.
Evans also had been accused of holding a Taser to Williams’ groin during his arrest for reckless conduct. Both men are black.
Evans’ three-day bench trial came as Chicago police were under local and federal scrutiny for use of force, following the release last month of a 2014 video showing a white police officer shooting a black teen 16 times. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder in the shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has apologized for the McDonald shooting amid daily protests calling for his resignation, and vowed to fix problems in police culture. The U.S. Department of Justice last week launched a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department.
The amount of force that can be used by police officers has become a focus of national debate due to a series of high-profile police killings of black men by mainly white officers in U.S. cities.
Evans has been the subject of several police misconduct lawsuits, according to local media reports.
Prosecutors told Cook County Criminal Court Judge Diane Cannon that the commander crossed the line into criminal conduct during the arrest, and that Williams’ DNA was on Evans’ gun.
Defense attorney Laura Morask questioned why a saliva test was not conducted on the gun, and said the presence of DNA did not prove the gun was in Williams’ mouth.
“This is a case of a guy doing his job,” she told reporters after the verdict. “We need commanders like that.”
Other officers present on the night of the arrest testified that Evans believed that Williams had a gun when he chased him into an abandoned building on the city’s South Side.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Matthew Lewis)