Pubdate: Wed, 21 Dec 2011
Source: Austin Weekly News (Oak Park, IL)
Copyright: 2011 Austin Weekly News
Author: La Risa Lynch, Contributing Reporter


15th District Police Officer Wants Justice For Austin 7

A Chicago police officer is seeking the media's help to unravel what
he says is a web of deception, created by the Chicago Police
Department (CPD), which led to the indictment and subsequent
conviction of seven police officers in the 15th Police District on the
city's West Side 15 years ago.

T.C. McCoy, an officer in the 15th District, held a news conference
Wednesday outside police headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave., decrying
a "conspiracy by the Chicago Police Department" to frame these seven
police officers, known as the "Austin 7" in what he calls a flawed
police corruption investigation.

McCoy contends there are several discrepancies in the police and FBI's
initial investigation, stemming from a Dec. 8, 1996 videotape, shot by
the CPD, which McCoy alleges shows a staged robbery of an undercover
female FBI agent posing as a drug dealer's girlfriend. McCoy contends
the arrest of the Austin 7 stems from that tape.

"They put all seven names on the indictment," McCoy said "When you are
spending the kind of money they were spending, you had to come up with
something. You just couldn't come up with some type of bullcrap. You
couldn't make it all civilians."

McCoy said he has approached the police department about the tape, but
the department has refused to investigate it further.

Pat Hill, a retired police officer and member of the African-American
Police League, has followed McCoy's investigation for 15 years. She
contends there are a lot of unanswered questions about this
investigation. Hill said neither she nor McCoy have gotten cooperation
from the local authorities in this matter and hopes media attention
about the videotape will change that.

"We've all done the work, so now we are asking for your assistance as
that other arm of the constitution to seek justice for all of us," she

In December 1996, seven police officers from the 15th District's
tactical unit were arrested for allegedly shaking down undercover FBI
agents posing as drug dealers between 1995-1996. The undercover
investigation became known as Operation Broken Star. The FBI alleged
that the officers conspired to rob and extort $65,000 from undercover
FBI agents.

The officers arrested in the case were Edward Lee Jackson Jr., Gregory
S. Crittleton, M.L. Moore, Alex Ramos, Lennon Shields, Cornelius
Tripp, and James Young. Also a civilian, Charles Vaughn, was arrested.
Three of the former officers - Jackson, Ramos and Moore - are still in
jail, serving a combined 249 years in prison. McCoy held the news
conference on the date, Dec. 20, when the officers were arrested 15
years ago.

McCoy contends CPD wanted to investigate him and his now-deceased
partner, Jerry Saffold for allegedly robbing drug dealers of between
$100 and $200. McCoy contends he and his partner were allegedly
targeted by CPD's Corrupt Practice Unit for doing their jobs - ridding
Austin's streets of dugs.

McCoy said that when the unit found no evidence of wrongdoing, an
officer by the name of Michael W. Hoke allegedly arranged to set up a
staged drug robbery to implicate McCoy as well as Jackson and Shields.

Hoke was former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge's partner in the early '70s and
has been implicated in police torture of suspects at Area 2 Police
District headquarters. Hoke was granted immunity from prosecution in
the ongoing Burge trial by special prosecutor Edward Egan, according
to an article in the Chicago Reader. Last year, Burge was convicted of
lying to federal prosecutors in the police torture case.

McCoy contends that the videotape shows an individual posing as him
robbing the female FBI agent. McCoy said that individual was Vaughn
who unknowingly posed as McCoy and was offered money for his part in
the staged robbery. McCoy said he was on vacation in the Chicago area
when the staged robbery took place.

"There was never no officers from the Austin community in this," he
said. "If you look at the evidence in its totality ... there is
nothing that is compelling that would have you arrest these officers."

He said the officers were arrested and convicted on "bogus reports"
and "lies," allegedly offered by Hoke.

Subsequently McCoy invited the media to Wallace Catfish Restaurant,
2800 W. Madison Ave., to watch the video of the staged robbery. McCoy
gave a play-by-play of the tape.

McCoy is taking his fight directly to the "lion's den" and challenged
the department to fire him "if I am saying something wrong."

During the news conference, McCoy was flanked by several Austin
residents, plain-clothes Chicago police officers and a brother of one
of the Austin 7. William Berry, 41, is the brother of Cornelius Tripp,
who was sentenced to 13 years in prison and is out on parole.

This ordeal, Berry said, has taken a toll on his brother. He said his
brother didn't want to plead guilty but was pressured to do so by his

"He is stressing a lot because he was framed, and he is still going
through emotional problems with that. He has a lot of hatred built up
from the police department," Berry said.

The Chicago Police Department has not yet responded to a request for
comment on McCoy's claims. 
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