Thursday, September 29, 2016
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez abruptly drops ALL CHARGES against the following olice officers - Chicago police Sgt. James Padar and officers William Pruente and Morgan, as well as Glenview Officer James Horn but plans to re-indict The offender in this case - Joseph Sperling - was recently re-arrested for a DUI fatal accident
Prosecutors plan to re-indict the officers, but the sudden and confusing end to the trial marked another embarrassment for outgoing State's Attorney Anita Alvarez in her handling of prosecutions of Chicago police officers.
In yet another surprise, a fourth officer, Vince Morgan, quietly pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice and was sentenced to a year of probation.
The four officers — three from Chicago and one from north suburban Glenview — had faced felony charges in a case first revealed by the Tribune in an April 2014 front-page story. Joseph Sperling, a Glenview resident whom the officers suspected of narcotics dealing, was pulled over after allegedly failing to signal.
n court, all four officers — Chicago police Sgt. James Padar and officers William Pruente and Morgan, as well as Glenview Officer James Horn — had taken the stand to defend the arrest. Pruente testified he smelled marijuana in Sperling's car, justifying his decision to order him out. Police found a backpack containing about a pound of marijuana inside.
But Sperling's lawyer, Steven Goldman, pulled a surprise, producing a video from a Glenview squad car at the scene that showed Pruente had immediately opened up the driver's door and arrested Sperling. A furious Circuit Judge Catherine Haberkorn suppressed the traffic stop and arrest.
In June 2015, Alvarez's office charged the officers with perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct.
As the bench trial got underway Thursday before Judge Matthew Coghlan, prosecutors said in opening remarks that the actions of the officers struck at the heart of the criminal justice system.
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