Do you feel you were pulled over for DUI for no reason whatsoever? It’s possible that is the case, at least in Illinois, where lawsuits and internal investigations are looking widespread charges of false DUI arrests.
According to Chicago’s ABC7 news site, around 40 lawsuits were filed against Richard Fiorito for alleged false DUI charges. They claimed that he targeted the gay and lesbian community after they left from gay bars.
The lawsuits also claim that Fiorito stopped drivers for “bogus” traffic violations. The plaintiffs say he then made up false reports claiming they were intoxicated.
But recently the charges against Fiorito were dropped by Cook County’s State Attorney Anita Alvarez. She said there was not enough evidence to convict him, even with the surveillance video.
The surveillance video was put in Fiorito’s police car in March 2009 because he had several complaints about him making false arrests.
According to the lawsuits, these videos contradicted Fiorito’s arrest reports. Alvarez still said it was not enough evidence to present a case against the police officer.
The plaintiffs disagreed and claimed that the video tape proves the officer made false DUI reports.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney claimed Alvarez dropped the charges because the allegations were inconsistent and most of the drivers refused to give bloods samples to determine their BAC.
Alvarez’s chief of staff said that “based upon that investigation, it was determined that there were a number of inconsistencies. And it was ultimately determined we wouldn’t be able to meet our burden which in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Since the investigation, Fiorito no longer patrols the streets but works behind a desk. He will continue to do so until Internal Affairs completes their investigation. Also, Fiorito will no longer be a witness in DUI cases.
But Fiorito was not the first Chicago police officer to be accused of making false DUI arrests. Two officers were previously accused of the same offense. One officer even retired early instead of face criminal charges and an investigation for allegedly making these false claims.
The Chicago Sun-Times has more reports that Officer Joe Parker, formerly honored as one of the top DUI cops in the city, exaggerated DUI arrest reports.
The paper’s Web site has some great video from a 2008 arrest of Raymond Bell.
The video shows Bell performing a number of field sobriety tests, including walk-and-turn test, the one-legged stand and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test.
After reviewing the video, and the contradicting police reports by Officer Parker, prosecutors have dropped all charges against Bell.
Now, prosecutors are looking into pressing charges against Officer Bell.
And they’re considering filing criminal charges against the 59-year-old Parker, who is one of three Chicago cops whose prolific DUI-busting has now come under scrutiny. Dozens of DUI arrests by Parker alone are under review, sources say.
“There is an ongoing investigation, but we are not going to comment in further detail,” said Sally Daly, spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
These tapes became public, and the charges were dropped, thanks to actions taken by Bell’s DUI lawyer, who subpoenaed the police department for arrest records and videos of the arrest.
In Illinois, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office has moved to dismiss dozens of DUI cases. This surprising action came after a second Chicago police officer was accused of framing drivers to boost DUI arrests.
Nearly a year ago, another Chicago police officer was charged with perjury, official misconduct and obstructing justice.
Officer John Haleas was accused of failing to follow proper procedure during a DUI arrest in 2005. It was alleged that Haleas failed to perform field sobriety tests and lied in his police report of the arrest.
Cook County prosecutors dropped more than 50 DUI cases that were products of Haleas’ DUI arrests.
Haleas was honored on three occasions by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists as the officer with the most DUI arrests in Illinois. The criminal case against him is still pending.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, Officer Joe D. Parker has been given a desk job at the station while an internal police investigation of the DUI arrests he made is conducted.
Parker, 59, is a 23-year police veteran and works in the Chicago Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office is also investigating Parker.
However, this is not the first instance in which Parker has been accused of making false DUI arrests.
In 2005, Parker reportedly arrested Vanessa Davis, a well-known blues singer who suffers from multiple sclerosis, for suspicion of DUI. After the arrest, Davis suffered severe anxiety, which caused severe medical complications.
Davis filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for wrongful arrest. Her lawyer claimed that because of the arrest she had to be hospitalized for a few days. The city paid Davis $100,000 to settle the lawsuit.
The current investigations into Parker’s conduct began after it was noticed his account of a DUI arrest on a police report was disproved by a review of the dash cam video from his squad car.
Wayne Jackson has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that Parker also wrongfully arrested him for DUI.
Jackson was driving home from work in 2006 when Parker pulled him over. He was given a field sobriety test and claims that he passed; however, Parker wrote on the arrest report Jackson was swaying and slurred his speech.
Jackson also says he passed a Breathalyzer test, but on the arrest report Parker indicated he had “attempted to circumvent” the machine.
Like Haleas, Parker was honored by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists for making 153 DUI arrests in 2006.