IPRA chief makes new agency appointments

Sharon Fairley, the newly appointed head of the Independent Police Review Authority, plans to expand the agency’s staff and create an entirely new division that will work to create “a more productive dialogue” between itself and city residents.

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A federal judge on Monday ruled city attorney Jordan Marsh intentionally hid evidence in a deadly Chicago police shooting case. It was a scathing, 72 page ruling by the judge that ripped Marsh for concealing evidence that protected two officers and led to their acquittal.

Now, the judge has ordered a new trial, and this comes as the new head of the Independent Police Review Authority is announcing changes that she hopes will restore trust in her agency.

Sharon Fairley, who is the mayor's newly appointed chief administrator of IPRA, announced some broad changes Monday in her agency that includes a new lead investigator and promises of transparency. But with her agency's track record of nearly always clearing police officers in shooting incidents, she conceded trust won't be rebuilt overnight.

“But I believe restructuring the staff and adding the capabilities, and refocusing ourselves on our mission and the core values of quality, excellence and expediency and independence, we can rebuild Chicagoan's trust in IPRA going forward,” Fairley said.

But the attorney representing the family of Bettie Jones, who police say was accidentally shot during a domestic incident on the West Side last month, says promises of reform have been made before and real change requires real transparency.

“In this case, I think that they should release any and all reports and statements from witnesses at the scene. I think they need to release any and all video that has been seized,” said attorney Larry Rogers Jr. “It's our understanding that there were several neighbors in the area that had videotape recording on their properties.”

In the case of Darius Pinex, who was shot and killed by police after being pulled over in Englewood in 2011, the judge was clearly sending a message by throwing out the verdict that acquitted the two officers involved because a city attorney withheld crucial evidence.

Steve Greenburg, the family's attorney, says that city attorney, Jordan Marsh, should have been fired long ago, but instead was allowed to resign today.

“We let people resign, we let them keep their benefits, we let them make these soft landings. Have a few people make a hard landing, clean house a few times, send some people out on their butt and  maybe things will change,” said Greenburg.

Fairley plans to expand the agency’s staff and create an entirely new division that will work to create “a more productive dialogue” between itself and city residents.

Fairley has already hired Annette Moore as her Chief of Staff and Jay Westensee as IPRA’s Chief Investigator, according to an emailed statement from IPRA spokesman Larry Merritt. The agency charged with investigating all police shootings is also working to fill new General Counsel, Supervising Attorney and Attorney positions.

“By adding more legal personnel, IPRA will now have legal oversight of the investigative process from start to finish, aiding in legal issues being identified and resolved as they arise,” the statement said.

A “community outreach team” is also in the works and will be established in the coming weeks, according to IPRA. The team will work to “provide more direct support and communication with complainants, witnesses and the community as a whole.”

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