Chicago Cop: Tales from the street


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The Tribune called the interview "tightly controlled by his attorneys and the public relations strategist hired by his defense team. While he declined on the advice of his lawyer to discuss details of the shooting, he did say it was the first time he had fired his gun in the line of duty during his more than 12 years as a member of the Chicago Police Department, working in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods of the city. You don't ever want to shoot your gun. It doesn't matter if it's to put down a stray animal or something like that. Nobody wants to shoot their gun.

I never would have fired my gun if I didn't think my life was in jeopardy or another citizen's life was. It's something you have to live with forever. Jury selection in Van Dyke's murder trial is scheduled to begin next week. McDonald was spotted walking down a street holding a knife, according to police. Officers followed him and called for back up, officials said. Van Dyke and his partner heard the radio dispatch and raced to the scene, officials said. Van Dyke opened fire on McDonald six seconds after he exited his patrol car, officials said.

In a written report of the shooting he submitted, Van Dyke claimed McDonald was attacking him with a knife when he opened fire, emptying his gun.

Chicago Cop: Tales from the Street

But a police dashcam video contradicted his account of the shooting, officials said. Van Dyke lawyers contend the dashcam video does not include sound and doesn't show the shooting from Van Dyke's vantage point. Van Dyke was arrested in November , on the same day the dashcam video was publicly released. He was suspended from the police force without pay but remains a member of the department. That's a great false narrative. It's just slander. The case became a political crisis for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who fired the former superintendent of police and hired Eddie Johnson as interim superintendent in the aftermath of the shooting that sparked protests nationwide.

Three other officers have been charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the case for allegedly attempting to prevent or shape the independent criminal investigation into McDonald's shooting. The others need not know, they must not know, any of the details about what we would be doing the next several days.

Such was the nature of this sensitive operation. It was over two hours, after idle chit-chat an awkward shared meal when we finally found ourselves in a room, alone—able to talk at last. He was raised here and knew the territory well. But just how did these ancient grave-sites come to play such a big part in a criminal enterprise? That was my expertise. Each of us brought unique talents to this assignment and by combining them, we were more than confident about the ultimate success of our mission.

We heard the floor outside our door creak and we stopped talking. The door to our room, cracked open. Quiet down in there. Footsteps walking away from the bedroom door and then silence. My cousin and I duck our heads under the covers and continue jabbering, but in hushed tones now. I would be here for two weeks—we had a lot of plans to talk about. Oh, to be eight years old again! I awoke to a very familiar sound. On this day that sound brings a smile to my face. I am not a morning person, however, my daughter is and this morning she will be even more bright and cheery than usual.

Today is Christmas, December 25 th , The pitter-patter of those little feet grows louder as my daughter runs into our room. I smile and tense up just slightly knowing that she is about to jump into bed with me and my wife.


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Her bright eyes, giant smile and big out-of-control bed-head make my grin grow wider. She climbs under the covers and nestles in as I yawn and stretch, still tired from all of the Christmas Eve festivities. I typically receive an email and numerous updates for each shooting, homicide or major event that has occurred across the city. As I scroll through looking for anything that may have happened overnight in my area of responsibility, one catches my eye.

Upon arrival they have apparently discovered a dismembered body in the basement. I put down my Blackberry and think to myself, there will be a story behind this one. The previous evening, Christmas Eve, was spent rushing from one family party to another. My wife and I kept busy chatting and catching up with family we see far too infrequently. As the evening came to a close, we hustled home, put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.

We put the kids to bed and began bringing presents up from the basement and placing them under the tree. By the time we made it to bed we were exhausted. About eight miles southeast, Alex Valdez was slowly becoming exhausted as well, but for very different reasons. About six months prior, eighteen-year-old Alex Valdez moved into the basement apartment on the block of North Kildare with his aunt and her boyfriend, Sylvestri Diaz.

Alex was to keep a job and contribute to the household expenses; however, he had recently stopped working and was asked to move out. Alex sat in the basement apartment drinking beer and becoming increasingly angry as the thoughts of the impending eviction loomed in his head.


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At some point Sylvestri Diaz came home to the apartment and had Alex accompany him to the liquor store to buy more beer, but not before Alex hid a hammer by the front door. Upon returning from the store, Alex retrieved the hammer and smashed Sylvestri in the head several times until he was dead.

But the brutality had just begun. The chest of this dismembered body was sliced open from neck to pelvis. After becoming physically drained from this mutilation, Alex called to report a dead body. When asked if he had tried CPR, Alex simply laughed and told the operator that his victim had been decapitated.

Responding officers arrived and found Alex Diaz outside covered in blood. Diaz admitted to his crime, was placed in custody and directed officers to a horrific Christmas morning crime scene. Details of this crime slowly came to light throughout Christmas day.

I was again with my family at another two holiday parties, but with each news update my thoughts returned to the officers who responded and made the gruesome Christmas morning discovery. As I was surrounded by family and close friends I wondered how these officers were coping with their holiday. Did they stop at a bar on the way home to clear their heads?

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Will they talk about it or lock it away until it disappears? Whatever their response, I pray for them to recover quickly, move forward and cherish and embrace their loved ones on this Christmas Day and every Christmas Day to come. I grab my son and daughter as they scurry by, to give them an extra hug, but they squirm loose—they have new toys to explore.

There are three however, that have been in use for as long as I can remember.

Chicago Police Tales and Family Stories by Jim & Jay Padar

It is perhaps the most critical call an officer can make and is taken with the utmost seriousness by all units on the street. In truth of course, if you monitor your scanner, you find that it is not taken lightly by the working police and is very seldom used. To my knowledge Chicago is the only department that uses that ten signal designation. It works well—most of the time.

We were working the Saturday-Sunday midnight shift, midnight to am. I am sure the dispatcher had the line-up and that it designated us a ten-four unit.


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But for some reason that escapes me these many years later, at some point during the tour of duty, my partner was excused and I became a ten-ninety-nine unit. There was a heavy police presence in our district and although I was bit nervous, I resolved to wait for my assist unit before exiting the squad on any assignment. I would be fine. It was nearing the end of my tour of duty and it was very cold. The bad guys seemed to have retired for the night and the radio was extremely quiet.

Nothing was going on. See a Mrs. This was the notorious Cabrini housing project after all.

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And I waited. The radio was silent. So I summoned my five whole months of police experience and considered the situation. A stolen auto report; under normal circumstances this would be an assignment for a one-man car, but this was Cabrini. At this hour of the morning and given the extreme cold, there was no one on the street, but this was Cabrini.

Maybe the dispatcher, with eons more experience than me, divined that circumstances did not indicate an assist necessary, but this was Cabrini. It never occurred to me that he had my unit marked as a two-man car and that he might have missed my ten-ninety nine response. I sat in front of the building for a few moments and looked things over. There was not a soul to be seen. The complainant was a woman, so that sounded legit I thought. I donned my gloves and put a blank stolen auto case report on my clip board and trudged toward the building. My lifeline, my radio, remained firmly affixed to the dashboard of my squad—there were no personal portable radios in But he also fired the police superintendent and promised, tearfully at times, a wholesale rethinking of how officers interact with black residents and how they use their weapons.

Trust in the police remains low, the homicide rate remains high, and new police shootings continue to bring tense protests.

Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street
Chicago Cop: Tales from the street Chicago Cop: Tales from the street

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