Despite having the upper hand on the drug war, police departments across the country often insist on using dastardly practices to lock people up for marijuana—a substance that is now legal in some fashion in over half the states.
Fortunately, new technology has exposed some of the slithering antics of the law, making it harder for dirty cops to get away with conducting illegal shakedowns and falsifying evidence. This is a brutal lesson that several officers with the Chicago Police Department are now being forced to learn the hard way.
A report from The Chicago Tribune indicates that Cook County prosecutors have filed perjury charges against four veteran cops, three of which worked the narcotics division, for providing false testimony in a case last year in which marijuana was discovered during a traffic stop.
In 2014, four Chi-Town police officers swore under oath that the odor of marijuana is what provoked officer William Pruente to pull Joseph Sperling from his vehicle and initiate a search—leading to the discovery of almost a pound of pot in his backpack.
However, Sperling’s attorney nailed this testimony to the cross after entering video footage obtained from the cop’s cruiser cam that forced a fifth officer to admit, while on the stand, that all of her colleagues were lying.
The video shows officer Pruente reaching into Sperling’s vehicle through an open window to unlock the door immediately after pulling him over. The cop then drags Sperling out of the car and begins to pat him down. Yet, all of the officers testified that Pruente supposedly smelled marijuana while waiting for Sperling to produce his driver’s license and registration—the video proves that never happened.
Once it was determined that these underhanded cops had banded together in an effort to send a young man to prison, Circuit Judge Catherine Haberkorn tossed the case out of court.
“Obviously, this is very outrageous conduct,” Judge Haberkorn said after seeing the video. “All officers lied on the stand today… All their testimony was a lie.”
Incidentally, all of the cops involved, with the exception of Sergeant Theresa Urbanowski, were immediately removed from their respective beats, pending an internal affairs investigation. The Tribune reports that Urbanowski, the officer who admitted the entire copper clan was telling untruths in court, has been on a paid vacation since the revelation of dishonesty was made in March of last year.
On Monday, the four Chicago cops (William Pruente, James Padar, Vince Morgan and James Horn) surrendered to authorities. Each was charged with felony perjury and obstructing justice, crimes that could result in a sentence of five years in prison.
At a press conference, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alverez stated that officers who perjure themselves in order to sway the voice of the court pose a threat to the criminal justice system, one that demands truthful testimony from both witnesses and police officers.
Several defense attorneys, including Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli, say that false testimony provided by crooked cops has become such an epidemic in Chicago it is often referred to as “testilying.”