A high-ranking Chicago police officer accused of shoving his gun down a suspect’s throat while on duty in 2013 was found not guilty Monday of official misconduct and aggravated battery by a Cook County judge who said her decision hinged on conflicting testimony by the officer's accuser.
"It's been said this is not a good time to try police misconduct," Judge Diane Cannon said. "I say there is never a good time."
The incident in question unfolded in January 2013. Cmdr. Glenn Evans, a 30-year veteran of the force, was also accused of holding a Taser to Ricky Williams' groin and threatening to kill him.
According to details previously revealed in the prosecutor proffer, Evans claimed he saw Williams with a gun on the 500 block of East 71st Street. The officer then chased Williams into a home, tackled him, shoved his pistol into Williams' mouth and made threats.
During a three-day bench trial last week, Williams, a then-22-year-old shooting suspect, testified that Evans forced the gun as far down his throat as his Adam's apple.
But Cannon said Williams' testimony was inconsistent. According to Cannon, Williams first testified Evans was in uniform during the alleged incident and then said he was in plain clothes.
"He's eager to change his testimony at anyone's request," Cannon said of Williams.
The DNA puts Evans at the scene, Cannon said, and nothing more. That can move and spread, she said.
"The fact that Ricky Williams' DNA was on the swab was of fleeting significance because it was touch DNA," said Cannon, who noted her ruling does not pertain to other victims of police brutality.
The final hours of trial saw testimony from Independent Police Review Authority investigator Vincent Jones, who admitted he did not follow through on instructions from his supervisors or the Illinois state crime lab when he was assigned the case for Evans.
The defense's version of events contradicted Williams' testimony. The defense said Williams resisted arrest and added that they never saw Evans threat him with a gun or a Taser.
The gun that Evans allegedly shoved down Williams' throat is a central piece of evidence in the trial.
In court Thursday, Jones took the stand for almost three hours. He said he never thought it was necessary to gather a DNA sample from Evans, as was requested by state police biologist Jennifer Patterson.
Jones also said he never personally looked into whether Evans was right- or left-handed. The distinction is important because Williams claimed Evans used his left hand to jam the gun into his mouth while he held a Taser to his groin with his right hand. Williams later changed his story when the state's attorney's office informed him of photos showing Evans wearing his gun holster on his right side.
A DNA expert who testified in court Wednesday said she found Williams' DNA on Evans' gun after the alleged incident. Under cross examination, however, she admitted it was possible that simple contact between Williams and Evans' gun could have been enough to deposit his DNA, meaning the evidence did not confirm the gun was shoved in Williams' throat.
The final witness for the defense was Scott Ando, who was recently ousted as IPRA's chief. Ando was questioned about his firing of Matrice Campbell, another former IPRA investigator who went on public radio to talk about what were then confidential DNA reports on Evans' gun.
Evans also faces a $5 million civil suit in connection with Williams' arrest.