Former police Superintendent Garry McCarthy testifies in hearing on killing of Officer Clifton Lewis – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

In January 2012, former Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy emailed the police force about charges in the killing of Officer Clifton Lewis, but he also sought to debunk a rumor, he testified Tuesday.

After Lewis was killed while working off-duty as a security guard West Side convenience store in December 2011, a rumor circulated throughout the force that Lewis was killed in a case of mistaken identity, McCarthy said. The rumored reason for the slaying was that Lewis switched shifts with someone else, who was the real target of the shooting.

“Somebody brought it to my attention … that there was a rumor regarding fact that this was such a coldblooded, fast-moving murder, that it was a hit, not necessarily a robbery attempt,” McCarthy said.

Chicago police Officer Clifton Lewis.

Two masked men fatally shot Lewis while he was working at the M&M Quick Foods in the 1200 block of North Austin Boulevard in what prosecutors have alleged was a botched robbery. Prosecutors charged three men in the killing, Tyrone Clay, Alexander Villa and Edgardo Colon. Clay and Villa were accused of shooting Lewis, Colon was allegedly their getaway driver.

In a hearing Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, the city faced off against attorneys for the defendants over allegations that the Chicago Police Department failed to turn over evidence in response to subpoenas in the case that has become subject of increasing scrutiny.

The defense attorneys have asked Cook County Judge Erica Reddick to levy sanctions and hold the Chicago Police Department in contempt of court, and called McCarthy, who was fired in 2015 after the release of video of the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, as a witness Tuesday. McCarthy is now chief of the Willow Springs Police Department.

McCarthy said he wanted to quell “misinformation” about the case, which is why he included the mention of the rumor in the email.

But defense attorneys argued that the email was an indication that other theories of the crime were not turned over to the defense.

“Alternative theories were not tendered to us. Tips were not tendered to us,” said Marijane Placek, an assistant public defender representing Clay.

Throughout the hearing, which went into the evening, city attorneys objected to lines of questioning from defense attorneys, arguing that whether authorities involved in the Lewis case acted in bad faith was beyond the scope of the hearing, which they said was meant to ascertain whether the city failed to comply with subpoenas.

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An attorney representing the city argued that the Police Department has been working diligently to respond to the defense subpoenas despite being underresourced.

The case has been dogged by allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct. Defense attorneys have accused police officers of coercing confessions and prosecutors of hiding evidence. The three men accused in the case have maintained their innocence.

In January, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office assigned new prosecutors, referencing pending motions of prosecutorial misconduct but noted that the motions have not been ruled on. Prosecutors have denied the allegations.

Defense attorneys have argued in recent weeks and months that they are struggling to obtain documents from police and prosecutors. Reddick last month ordered police to go to the “outer limits” in searching and returning materials related to the case.

Colon was previously found guilty in the killing in 2017, but an appellate court threw out the conviction three years later, saying his constitutional rights were violated when police continued questioning him after he indicated he wanted a lawyer. He is out on bond waiting for a new trial.

Clay has been in jail for more than a decade without going to trial while attorneys have argued over whether his videotaped statements should be shown to a jury. His attorneys have said he couldn’t waive his Miranda rights due to “limited intelligence and verbal comprehension.” A Cook County judge and an appellate court agreed that the statements should be thrown out.

Villa was sentenced in 2019 but he has not been sentenced and has a pending motion for a new trial.

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