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High-Ranking Chicago Police Officer Suspended in Brutality Probe

November 9, 1991

CHICAGO (AP) _ A district police commander and two detectives were suspended after they were charged Friday with using excessive force following allegations they tortured suspects.

If the charges are sustained following a police board hearing, Cmdr. Jon Burge and his two detectives could be fired, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. They were suspended for 30 days without pay.

The officers were named in charges by the city’s Law Department after an internal investigation, the statement said. It was launched following allegations that Burge and others tortured suspects in police custody. Burge heads the department’s unit in Brighton Park, a Chicago neighborhood.

Police spokeswoman Tina Vincini said union rules prohibited her from identifying the two detectives suspended along with Burge.

Burge, 43, and three detectives - Robert Dwyer, Peter Dignan and Charles Grunhard - are named as defendants in a lawsuit accusing them of torturing 12 suspects in custody between 1982 and 1987.

The lawsuit accuses police of shocking prisoners with electrical devices, beating them, denying them food and placing plastic bags over their heads in efforts to gain confessions.

The lawsuit was filed last month by Gregory Banks, who claims he was tortured into falsely confessing a murder. The lawsuit seeks $8 million dollars in compensatory damage and $8 million in punitive damages, said attorney Flint Taylor.

Banks was convicted in 1983. But the Illinois Appellate Court threw out the conviction in 1989, saying police had punched him, kicked him and placed a plastic bag over his head to obtain an involuntary confession. The murder charge was dismissed in 1990, and Banks was freed after spending seven years in prison.

Amnesty International, the human rights organization, cited Banks’ case in a letter to state officials last year and asked for information on allegations of brutality in the police department.

The police board will schedule a hearing date in about 10 days, the statement said.

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