CHICAGO, IL – Two men who were both convicted in slayings of Chicago Police officers were recently paroled, which has stoked the anger of various officials who believe these two men being paroled, “sends a troubling message,” to the community.
Convicted Chicago police officer killers Joseph Hurst and Johnny Veal have been paroled after decades in prison. https://t.co/zE3UGS3vYQ
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) February 26, 2021
On February 25th, 68-year-old Johnny Veal and 77-year-old Joseph Hurst were both granted parole by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, despite both men having been convicted in separate cases involving the killings of Chicago Police officers.
In Hurst’s case, he was convicted for the 1967 killing Officer Herman Stallworth – as well as wounding the deceased officer’s partner during the incident.
Hurst was said to have been pulled over for speeding back in ’67, which is when he killed he killed Officer Stallworth and wounded his partner.
Hurst was originally sentenced to the death penalty, but was then re-sentenced to 100-300 years in prison after the U.S. Supreme Court placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 1972.
Two men convicted of killing Chicago police officers decades ago were granted parole Thursday over objections from a former police superintendent and, in one case, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. https://t.co/XFsBR3v3wD
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) February 25, 2021
Moving on to Veal’s case, he was 17 years old when he and the now 74-year-old George Knights murdered Sergeant James Severin and Officer Anthony Rizzato in 1970 in the Cabrini-Green public housing complex.
Knights is said to still be in prison, but both of the murderers were sentenced to 100-199 years in prison for the incident.
Former police Superintendent Phil Cline of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation is among those not pleased with the parole board’s decision to set these cop killers free:
“Clearly, the intent of the court was for these murderers to pay for the lives they stole with life in prison.”
“More importantly, allowing these men to be free sends a troubling message to the families of these officers that their sacrifice and the lives of their loved ones are somehow insignificant.”
Even Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx voiced her opposition against seeing Veal paroled, noting that the killings of the two officers in that case tantamount to a, “cold-blooded execution,” and that Veal had even bragged about the killings.
Veal apparently told the parole board that he was innocent and that police interrogators had beaten him while he was being questioned about the murders – to which Foxx says that there’s no evidence to Veal’s claims.
However, for whatever reason – Foxx wasn’t vocally opposed to Hurst’s parole; with her sending a letter to the parole board in 2020 saying her office does not object to Hurst being granted parole.
Furthermore, Foxx’s office will reportedly no longer be making any sort of parole recommendations moving forward – whether for or against inmates being granted parole.
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In other news coming out of Chicago, the president of the Chicago Police union was recently suspended from the force without pay after numerous allegations of various misconduct were alleged against the officer.
Here’s that report from earlier in February.
CHICAGO, IL – The president of the Chicago police union was suspended on Wednesday from his position with the Chicago Police Department without pay, pending the outcome of an investigation and review by the Police Board.
— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) February 11, 2021
On January 26, Chicago Superintendent of Police David Brown filed a complaint with the board alleging multiple department policy violations against Officer John Catanzara. With the charges, Brown requested Catanzara be discharged from the department.
Additional charges were added this week after an investigation by the Chicago police’s Bureau of Internal Affairs, which found that Catanzara filed a false police report in 2018 against then-Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
The Fraternal Order of Police-Chicago union president, Catanzara was summoned to police headquarters on Tuesday and formally served with administrative misconduct charges. The documents notified him that he was suspended without pay for 30 days while the Chicago Police Board decides his case.
Embattled Chicago police union boss John Catanzara has been stripped of his pay for at least 30 days as the police board decides whether to fire him.https://t.co/09Lr5AUNAr
— Block Club Chicago (@BlockClubCHI) February 11, 2021
Catanzara has a history of conflict with the department brass, and he said that the latest charges may give him more support from union members:
“It’ll probably give me more support with members for being attacked. It’ll piss (police) off more.”
The new charges filed with the police board include an allegation that Catanzara filed a false police report against former CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson for participating in an anti-violence march on the Dan Ryan expressway in July 2018.
In the report, Catanzara claimed Johnson broke the law by allowing people to wrongfully march on the highway during a protest against neighborhood violence.
The new charges also allege Catanzara created a false police report on November 25, 2018 listing Police Commander Ronald Pontecore Jr. as an offender for interference with a public officer.
The complaint stated that he created the incident report “without being assigned and/or requested.”
The January charging document listed multiple alleged violations, including an incident under review by the Police Board when Catanzara posted a photograph of himself in CPD uniform holding an American flag and a political sign.
The complaint also alleges 15 additional incidents involving social media posts that violated department policies.
Postings listed in the filing included, but were not limited to, a November 25, 2016, Facebook post that encouraged other department members to stop chasing offenders, a December 1, 2016, Facebook post that was “disrespectful to public benefit recipients” by linking looting to Democratic areas that are “full of unemployed social parasites who get free housing,” and a February 3, 2018, Facebook post which claimed there was “almost ZERO accountability in the department.”
The complaint also listed a November 22, 2016 statement Catanzara allegedly posted to Facebook that “advocated killing people.”
The post, referring to an article about the shooting death of a Wayne State University police officer, included a comment stating, “WTF. It’s seriously time to kill these motherfuckers.”
The complaint lists ten department policies that Brown claims were violated. These policies include disobedience of an order or directive, inattention to duty, engaging in public statements harmful to the department, and participating in partisan political campaigns or activity.
Superintendent Brown ended the complaint stating:
“Based on the foregoing charges and specifications, the Superintendent recommends that Police Officer John Catanzara…be separated from the Chicago Police Department.”
Chicago FOP President John Catanzara suspended from police force, pay stripped https://t.co/iKtYFj5IW4
— GodsGorillas (@GodsGorillas) February 11, 2021
Catanzara claimed the allegations were politically motivated because of his union activity and filed an unfair labor practice complaint. He called the charges hypocritical because the new police superintendent has been an advocate of encouraging officers to report misconduct by other officers.
Catanzara said he would subpoena every official who permitted the shutdown of the Dan Ryan Expressway in July 2018, one of the incidents listed in the complaint.
The Chicago Police Board issued a statement regarding the pending case:
“The Superintendent of Police has filed with the Police Board charges against Police Officer John Catanzara alleging multiple rule violations stemming from statements on social media and other delineated acts. The charges recommend that Officer Catanzara be discharged from the Chicago Police Department.
“The Board’s process for handling disciplinary cases includes an initial status hearing followed by discovery, a pre-hearing conference, and then presentation of witness testimony and evidence at a hearing, which will be open to the public.”
A hearing on the case is scheduled for Tuesday, February 23.
Catanzara has battled with City Hall and police brass on several occasions over his career. The new charges are the third time he faced termination from the police department. Two separate police superintendents were unsuccessful in seeking his dismissal.
Most recently, he was caught in a texting battle with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in July.
Hours after Chicago police were attacked with frozen water bottles, fireworks, and other objects during civil unrest in the city, the Mayor spoke out against the violence and encouraged people to report officers for misconduct.
Catanzara texted the Mayor:
“It tells my members you care more about rioters than injured police.”
The Mayor texted back to the representative of over 13,000 Chicago officers four minutes later, calling him “officially a clown.”
He then called her a “class act.”
The text battle went on, with the Mayor reportedly calling him a clown three more times and Catanzara telling the Mayor:
“99.9% of the department has zero respect for you, what you say, what you stand for and even less confidence you give a rat’s a** for their well-being.”
The Mayor ended the text battle by saying:
“Right back at you, clown. So sad you are so desperate for relevance and publicity that you are comfortable with lying. You will be exposed as the total fraud that you clearly are.”
Meanwhile, the streets of Chicago become more violent and dangerous by the hour.
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