Officer Broderick C. Jones
Alderman: Probe cop's 2001 slaying
January 28, 2005
The head of the City Council's Police and Fire Committee called on authorities to reopen the investigation into the 2001 shooting death of Officer Eric Lee after corruption charges were filed Thursday against two of the officers with Lee that night.
"These two officers supposedly called Eric Lee for backup and now they're charged. They may well have been the ones who put Eric Lee in harm's way," said Ald. Isaac "Ike" Carothers (29th). One of those officers was Broderick C. Jones, who was stripped of his badge in 2003 for allegedly helping a shooting suspect escape. He was supposed to be answering telephones in the city's 311 non-emergency call center. Yet he continued to work the South Side's streets -- leading a crew of rogue cops who robbed drug dealers of narcotics and money last year, federal authorities said.
Jones, 34, was charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Fellow officers Corey A. Flagg, 34; Darek A. Haynes, 35; and Eural J. Black, 41, and five alleged drug dealers also were charged.
Superintendent's worst scandal
Jones and Flagg were Englewood District officers before moving to the South Chicago District. Haynes and Black worked in the Englewood District. Other unnamed officers were involved, too, authorities say.
It's the biggest scandal so far under the watch of police Supt. Phil Cline, who took over the helm of the department in 2004. During his tenure, he has recommended the firings of 21 police employees and stressed that he wants to weed out dirty cops.
Beyond the violation of citizens' trust in cops in the Englewood neighborhood, Carothers said the arrests of Jones and Flagg raise new questions about Lee's fatal shooting.
In interviews with the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001, Jones and Flagg said they were working narcotics surveillance around the 6300 block of South Carpenter and requested help. They called for Lee and Officer Andre Green "because we can always trust them," Flagg told the Sun-Times.
Lee was shot to death by gang member Aloysius Oliver after the officers tried to stop Oliver and two other men from beating up a citizen, Tommie Leach, for urinating on a trash can, Green told the Sun-Times.
Cline said the 2001 incident was thoroughly investigated and the conduct of Jones and Flagg "had nothing to do with Officer Lee's death." Still, Carothers called for a re-examination of Lee's death.
"I'm not suggesting that Eric Lee was involved [in wrongdoing]," Carothers said. "I don't want to open up that can of worms by suggesting that this police officer who we've honored had any kind of involvement with this corruption. I want to reopen the investigation . . . to make certain he wasn't a victim as a result of these bad officers' involvement with drugs."
Oliver is serving a life sentence. On Thursday, Oliver's defense attorney, Marijane Placek, said that during the trial, she was troubled by the facts leading up to Lee's shooting. Flagg and Jones went into the Englewood neighborhood that night for a drug bust, Placek said. They seized drugs from a home, but found no drug dealers, she said. "That raised red flags. Drug dealers don't leave drugs in the house," she said. "This Oliver case isn't over. We are going to delve into this." Placek said she tried to enter parts of the officers' police disciplinary records -- 3 inches thick -- into the case. "They not only talked about brutality in dealing with certain drug arrests, but missing certain items," she said.
'Officer Jones is a gang member'
In a court filing, Placek wrote that police records "reflected that Officer Jones is a gang member who assisted the perpetrator of a gang shooting by driving that man away from the scene in his champagne-colored Cadillac Esplanade."
But a judge sided with Cook County prosecutors, saying the police files about Jones and Flagg were not relevant to Oliver's case. Court records show Jones and Flagg have left a trail of expensive lawsuits in their wake.
The city has paid out $177,050 to plaintiffs in 11 lawsuits, said Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the Law Department. Jones was sued in 10 of those cases and Flagg was a co-defendant in three. Flagg was sued separately in another closed lawsuit, Hoyle said.
In one of those cases, Arnold Julien accused Jones and Officer Erik Johnson of a false arrest on July 14, 2000. Julien said he was held in custody for 14 months awaiting trial before he was acquitted. Julien's attorney, Kenneth Flaxman, said he's sued Jones at least six times in federal court on behalf of people whom Jones accused of drug dealing. All those cases were settled, Flaxman said.
"He preyed on people who would not be believed," Flaxman said. "You rob drug dealers and who's going to believe them? And it's tax-free money."
In Julien's case, Jones allegedly told a lie that could be proven wrong, Flaxman said.
In Jones' arrest report, he said Julien was selling drugs and hiding the proceeds in a public telephone change holder. But Julien's criminal defense attorney was able to prove there was no phone like that near the corner of arrest, Flaxman said.
Jones popped up on investigators' radar on July 21, 2004, when a Cadillac Escalade with a Fraternal Order of Police sticker was spotted following a drug dealer's vehicle. Investigators learned later that Jones was driving the Escalade.
Did they plot to rob informant?
Jones was unaware the drug dealer was working as an informant for narcotics investigators who were watching the Sunrise Car Wash owned by Joseph Wilson -- another alleged drug dealer -- in the 8500 block of South Ashland, prosecutors said.
The informant tipped the narcotics investigators that Wilson wanted to buy five kilograms of cocaine. Jones, Black and Flagg were plotting to rob the informant, prosecutors said.
Flagg, who was off duty, was in a police cruiser when he stopped a Malibu containing a person connected to the arranged drug deal, prosecutors said. Flagg allegedly searched the car before letting the driver go.
Black was identified as the officer in an unmarked police car that stopped a Chevy Blazer containing the informant, prosecutors said. Black was outside the Englewood District and did not have any reason to make the traffic stop, prosecutors said. An unidentified officer with Black allegedly searched the Blazer before they let the informant go.
The police investigators conducting the Sunrise Car Wash sting contacted federal agents and police officers who were already conducting a police corruption probe, according to an FBI agent's 111-page affidavit. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald praised those honest cops because "they did not stick their heads in the sand."
Wiretaps and video surveillance captured Jones and his alleged crew members in one robbery and three attempted robberies of drug dealers between July and September, authorities said. Six other unnamed Chicago Police officers are listed in FBI Agent Joshua Skule's affidavit.
"There are other officers involved," Fitzgerald said. "If I were the other officers, I would be picking up the phone and calling us because we intend to get to the bottom of it."
State prosecutors, meanwhile, are reviewing the arrests that Jones and his alleged crew members have made over the years. Some of those cases could be dismissed and defendants could be freed, authorities acknowledged.
"This will affect cases, for sure," Cline said.