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Another Chicago officer - represented by city's former top lawyer - alleges retaliation by CPD supervisors

WGN-TV Chicago logo WGN-TV Chicago 8/8/2022 Sam Charles
Another Chicago officer - represented by city's former top lawyer - alleges retaliation by CPD supervisors © Provided by WGN-TV Chicago Another Chicago officer - represented by city's former top lawyer - alleges retaliation by CPD supervisors

CHICAGO - A veteran Chicago Police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Lori Lightfoot and two CPD supervisors, alleging he was subjected to years of retaliation because he refused to look the other way on traffic violations committed by a friend of his boss.

What's more: the attorney representing the officer is Mark Flessner, the city's former corporation counsel who resigned in the wake of the botched police raid at the home of Anjanette Young in February 2019.

In a lawsuit filed July 27, CPD officer Maurice Anderson alleges that during a traffic stop in April 2017, a motorist claimed to be a friend of Anderson's boss. The driver then directed racial slurs at Anderson, who is Black. Anderson eventually issued the driver two citations and confiscated his license. Two days later, Anderson's lieutenant told him to do away with the tickets "because he was [the lieutenant's] friend," the suit states.

Anderson refused, and the lieutenant later "falsified official CPD documents and removed his friend's driver's license from the police station," the suit states. Anderson filed a complaint against the lieutenant, "and this is when the harassment began," he alleges.

In January 2018, the lieutenant told a sergeant to serve Anderson with two Summary Punishment Act Requests - an internal disciplinary procedure prompted by a relatively minor misconduct allegation - the suit states. Unbeknownst to Anderson, the sergeant was recording the interaction on her bodyworn camera - a violation of both state law and a CPD special order.

During his conversation with the sergeant, Anderson referred to the lieutenant as "racist" and "ignorant." The sergeant later initiated another complaint against Anderson because of his remarks, he alleges. That complaint was investigated by the CPD's Bureau of Internal Affairs, which later issued Anderson a reprimand and three-day suspension.

Internal Affairs also "accepted an allegation of insubordination against Officer Anderson for failing to call [the lieutenant] ‘sir' even though no other officer was required to do so," the suit states. Anderson says he was then stripped of his police powers for nearly three years, which cost him potential overtime pay and opportunities for a promotion.

Flessner - Anderson's attorney and the city's former corporation counsel - told WGN Investigates that Anderson wrote Lightfoot a letter in January 2021 describing the retaliatory behavior he was enduring.

"Defendant Lori Lightfoot failed to intervene to prevent the harassment and, indeed, condoned the behavior," the suit alleges.

Asked why Anderson waited several years to file a lawsuit over the alleged retaliation, Flessner said, "I think he just had enough and needed to take some action."

"I think there is some cynicism among the rank-and-file about the department as a whole," Flessner added. "They feel the command [staff] doesn't have their back and take care of them. When they do their job, they get punished for it. I think that's what [Anderson] believes."

A representative for the CPD declined to comment on the lawsuit as the case is still pending. Representatives for the mayor's office and the city's Law Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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Anderson's is at least the fourth lawsuit filed in the last year in which a CPD officer has accused a superior of retaliation. The lawsuit is also the first action Flessner has brought against the city since he left the Law Department in December 2020.

And though the lawsuit describes Anderson's career as "excellent" and "without incident," police disciplinary records paint a different picture.

Since Anderson became an officer in 1997, at least 90 misconduct complaints have been lodged against him - more than 99.8% of all officers in the CPD during that time. Of those, six complaints were sustained.

Cook County court records show Anderson has also been arrested twice since becoming a CPD officer. The first occurred in 2008 after Anderson allegedly struck and choked his wife - herself a CPD officer - in their South Shore home. Anderson was charged with domestic battery, but prosecutors eventually dropped the case, court records show.

The Independent Police Review Authority - the predecessor of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability - wrote that Anderson denied ever striking his wife, but the agency found that denial "to be not credible." The Chicago Police Board eventually moved to suspend Anderson for 30 days.

In 2009, both Anderson and his wife were arrested at the CPD facility in Homan Square, police records show. Anderson's wife was charged with domestic battery after she allegedly struck him in the face, while Anderson was charged with theft and contributing to the neglect of a child.

More Coverage: WGN Investigates

Anderson's wife was later found not guilty in a bench trial, though she was still ordered suspended from work for two days, according to police and court records. The criminal charges against Anderson were eventually dropped, and he was ordered suspended for 10 days.

Asked about the domestic violence instances in Anderson's past, Flessner said, "That doesn't pardon or justify the way he was treated by his superiors or by the mayor's office."

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