CHICAGO — The Cook County Prosecutor’s Office maintains a list of police officers who are never called to testify as prosecution witnesses.
The do-not-call list — also known as the “Brady List” or the “Giglio List” — is not a public document, but the state attorney general’s office recently produced a copy as part of a lawsuit that accused the office of violating the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
Most of the 66 officers on the list have faced criminal or other serious misconduct charges. With such baggage, prosecutors decided that the testimony of these officers would hinder the case more than help it.
A check by WGN Investigates found that the vast majority of those listed are, in fact, no longer police officers. Of the 66 names on the list, only 18 remain certified by the state as law enforcement officers. Of those, 13 work for the Chicago Police Department. Three of those officers are detectives, according to CPD.
Although the vast majority of those on the list are no longer police officers, it is clear that the list has recently been updated. For example, one officer was arrested in Florida late last year and charged with two misdemeanors. Although those charges were dropped in January, he remains on the list. That officer is currently assigned to CPD’s Alternate Response Section, the typical landing spot for CPD officers under investigation for alleged violations.
Meanwhile, several CPD officers linked to high-profile incidents of alleged misconduct are missing from the list. Officer Karol Khvesyukwho is accused of rioting at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and officer Robert Bakkerwho lied about his links to the far-right extremist group Proud Boys, is not included.
It’s unclear what methodology the state attorney’s office uses when adding an officer to a far-from-exhaustive list of police officers accused of serious wrongdoing in Cook County. The state attorney’s office declined to answer questions about how the list is maintained or whether prosecutors share its contents with police departments. Instead, a representative from the office issued the following statement:
“Like other jurisdictions across the country, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) maintains a list of police officers who have lost or whose credibility is in question for disclosure purposes under the discovery rules set forth in Brady v. Maryland. We are constantly working with our law enforcement partners to update the list and are currently exploring making the list available to the general public as an ongoing commitment to transparency.”
In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brady v. Maryland that the prosecution must provide exculpatory information to the defense. Nine years later, the Giglio v. United States decision expanded this requirement to include information that could be used to impeach the credibility of a witness.
The current list of state attorney’s offices was provided to WGN Investigates by criminal and civil rights attorney Tom Needham. He obtained the list after suing the state attorney general’s office last year for allegedly violating the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
“How can you protect a customer without knowing that there is negative information that could have an impact [an officer’s] plausibility?” Needham said. “The concept of having one of these lists is a firm, deliberate policy of the prosecutor’s office. But to claim you have it and then keep it secret or update it and not explain how it’s maintained seems to me to be the height of absurdity.”
Attorney Steve Greenberg said the Cook County Prosecutor’s Office “never told me the officer was on the list.”
“I have a problem with that [prosecutors] will try to get somebody to plead guilty — not all of them, but a lot of them — or try to see if they can get away with a bad officer,” Greenberg added. “They just won’t call the person. They will try to run before they tell you anything.’
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