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Just two days after her 37th birthday, Lakisha German, a friend, and her two teenagers were heading home from a birthday party at her father’s house. The group walked to 120th Street and Michigan Avenue to wait for a northbound #34 bus, carrying helium balloons and a gift bag. It was October 2021.
As they waited, an SUV drove past, U-turned at the next intersection, and pulled over at the bus stop.
The driver rolled down the window. Two uniformed police officers sat in the unmarked vehicle, shining a flashlight on the family.
German said, “Hello officers, how are you? What’s going on?”
One of the officers asked, “Anybody have a gun or firearm?”
German, who prides herself on being an honest person, replied, “Yes, sir, I do.”
She told the officers she had a gun zipped inside her fanny pack. Her gun was a distinctive purple and black .38 caliber Ruger.
One of the officers got out of the car, opened her fanny pack, took out the firearm, unloaded it, and stuck the gun in his vest.
After asking German’s children and her male friend if they had any firearms—they all said no—the officers searched the males’ bags and pockets. They started to search her daughter, but stopped when they saw she was carrying her pet boa constrictor, Milo.
One officer said, “This never happened.”
They then drove off. The entire interaction lasted about three minutes.
A police overhead camera catches Chicago police officers Daniel Fair and Jeffery Morrow conducting an unlawful search and seizure on October 5, 2021; Source: COPA
In that time, the officers never identified themselves, explained why they searched the group, or asked for names or identification. No investigatory stop report was filed. Officers are required to activate their body-worn camera at the start of any such stop, yet both officers failed to do so.
The officers returned to the 5th District station and inventoried the gun, but they lied about where they found it.
Their official story: Around the same time they were at the bus stop, they said they were near 100 E 127th Street—a mile away—where a ShotSpotter alert had gone off indicating 11 shots fired. There, a man told them he saw a man in a hoodie fire a gun and run away. The officers looked around and found a purple and black .38 caliber Ruger on the ground.
ShotSpotter is a controversial technology which is intended to detect gunshots and dispatch police to the scene. Chicago’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other researchers have found the program is ineffective and disproportionately impacts communities of color who are more likely to be subjected to civil rights violations in police response to ShotSpotter dispatches.
The OIG found ShotSpotter alerts resulted in evidence of gun-related crimes only about 9% of the time—that means in 9 out of 10 responses to ShotSpotter alerts, CPD did not find any shell casings, bullet holes, or a suspected shooter. This case shows that even some of those successes stem from false police reports.
Feeling the encounter was not right, and worried about how the officers might use her gun, German went to the 5th District police station to report the incident the next morning. Two days later, she was interviewed by COPA investigators.
Investigators learned the vehicle at the bus stop was assigned to two members of the 5th District’s Tactical Unit, Officers Daniel Fair and Jeffery Morrow. Fair joined the force in 2017, Morrow in 2018. The two had been partners since early 2020.
GPS logs showed Fair and Morrow’s vehicle at the bus stop exactly when German said the encounter happened. An overhead police camera at the intersection captured video of the stop, showing one of the officers taking an item out of German’s fanny pack.
German’s report kicked off an investigation of the two officers and eventually implicated two others in the same unit as COPA investigators took a fresh look at past stops.
Asked if this experience has changed her perception of police, German said, “No. I don’t think all cops are bad. I don’t have anything against anybody. But I’m supposed to feel safe, not fear you.”
“It’s not fair that they use their job to serve and protect, and their badge and shield, to do dirty work. You have to be an honorable person.”
German added, “I’m glad my little ol’ complaint helped get some people off the street who shouldn’t be there.”
She still has not gotten her firearm back two years later. German acknowledges she did not have a conceal carry permit, but has a FOID card and receipt for her gun. Investigators tell her it is still evidence in this case.
New videos give a firsthand look at four Chicago police officers’ misconduct, including unlawful searches and seizures, falsified police reports, and evidence some may have stolen drugs and money.
All have been stripped of their police powers, and one of the officers now faces criminal charges.
In March 2023, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) asked then-Police Superintendent David Brown to relieve four Calumet District officers of their police powers when an ongoing investigation revealed significant evidence of misconduct.
One officer, Daniel Fair, 34, has been charged with felony counts of obstruction of justice and official misconduct after allegedly filing a false report, then lying in court regarding circumstances that led to a man’s 2020 arrest and conviction. Fair has pleaded not guilty.
The Cook County State’s Attorney vacated the man’s convictions that were based on Fair’s false testimony.
People’s Fabric has obtained and reviewed dozens of official documents and videos from COPA which reveal new details about this pattern of unlawful seizures and falsified reports. In one instance, the officers were so singularly focused on unlawfully taking a firearm that they let a man wanted for murder slip through their fingers.
During the timeframe covered here, all four officers were members of the 5th District tactical team.
On June 15, 2021, Fair and another member of the same tactical unit, Kevin Taylor, detained and searched a man and a woman who had been sitting in a parked car.
Taylor had his body-worn camera activated during the stop. Fair did not.
The man told officers that he had been a former parolee. The officers handcuffed both of them as Fair searched the car.
During his search, Fair held up a stack of cash he’d found and asked the occupants about a large bag of cannabis.
While Fair continued his search, Taylor ran a check on the man’s name and told Fair that the system reported the man was supposed to be in Illinois Department of Corrections custody. The man disputed that, saying his parole had ended.
Both officers appeared relaxed and frequently laughed at the man’s situation. Finally, Fair appeared to drop the stack of cash back into the bag with cannabis, then tossed the bag and all its contents in his police vehicle.
The officers made the handcuffed man sit on the ground. Fair took the man’s phone and appeared to scroll through it. Fair and Taylor exchanged some looks and unintelligible words, then Taylor deactivated his camera.
GPS records show that less than three minutes after Taylor’s camera was turned off, their police vehicle was on the move. Fair’s house was six minutes away. Six minutes after their SUV started moving, it made a two minute stop at Fair’s home.
Aside from Taylor’s body-worn camera video and GPS logs, there is no other record of this stop. No incident report, no investigatory stop report, no arrest report, no drugs nor cash were inventoried by Fair or Taylor that day.
Taylor joined the force in 2015 and had been in the 5th District’s tactical unit since at least June 2017.
Five days later, on June 20, 2021, Fair and Morrow rolled up in front of a home where four men were sitting in the front yard.
After telling the men to turn their music down, Fair says, “Do me a favor right here and now, man. I’ll make it easy. What you do right now is give me the gun right now, you know what I’m sayin’? And go about your day.”
The officers claimed they had been able to see a gun in the pants of one of the men, a man in a red shirt.
Morrow tells the man to put up one of his hands, then adds, “You can keep your blunt though. Gimme your other hand,” as he grabs the man’s arm.
Fair asks how old he is.
“Nineteen,” the man responds.
Some of the other men object that the police didn’t have cause to pull up and confront them the way they did on private property.
Fair and Morrow then take the man’s gun, and Morrow says, “Go smoke your blunt, alright?” Morrow then turns off his camera. The entire interaction lasted less than two minutes.
Chicago PO Jeffrey Morrow’s body-worn camera shows himself and PO Daniel Fair seizing a gun from a man who investigators later learned was wanted for murder. Source: COPA
The officers inventoried the gun under a false report. They claimed an unknown man flagged them down who had “found a firearm in his yard,” and wanted to turn it in because “firearms scared him.”
Later, investigators would piece together that the man Fair and Morrow had in their grasp was wanted for a murder committed in Kentucky ten days prior.
On June 11, authorities in Paducah, Kentucky had put out a warrant for 20-year old Khalil Griffin in the shooting death of a 28-year old man the day before.
Griffin returned to Paducah and turned himself in to local police on June 25—five days after Morrow took his gun. Griffin pleaded guilty to murder and in October he was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
A 22-year old man was walking home from buying a soda at a nearby convenience mart a little after 8:00 PM in early July 2021, when an unmarked police SUV with three officers pulled up behind him.
Taylor’s camera was rolling. Officers gave no reason for the stop and immediately asked if he had a gun. He said yes, he had a gun in the bag strapped across his chest, and he had a FOID card. He also acknowledged he did not have a license to conceal carry.
Morrow handcuffed him, as Taylor unzipped the bag and took the gun.
Chicago PO Kevin Taylor’s body-worn camera shows himself, PO Jeffrey Morrow, and PO Daniel Fair making an apparent unlawful search and seizure. Source: COPA
The officers walked him back to the SUV to have Fair run his name through the system.
Fair said, “Hold on, hold on. Yay or nay? Before I fuckin do whatever?”
“F/P is fine,” Morrow replied before looking at Taylor, “Fine with you? That’s OK?”
Taylor seemed to acknowledge, then turned off his camera.
According to COPA, they understand “F/P” to be the group’s code for “Found Property,” the designation used on their false reports claiming to find firearms laying around.
Morrow inventoried the gun under a false “found property” report. He claimed an unknown male flagged officers down and pointed them to a firearm he found on nearby abandoned property.
In the middle of July 2021, Fair, Taylor, and Officer Rupert Collins, another member of their tactical team, stopped three males in a car. Officers said they made the stop because their headlights weren’t on. The men said they had just pulled out from their home and hadn’t turned them on yet.
The officers collected IDs from the group and handcuffed them, but never ran their names. As Fair searched their car, Collins said to them, “There’s a lot of stuff goin’ on man. It’s a Friday night,” adding they are out “tryin’ to keep everybody honest.”
In a backpack in the car’s trunk, Fair found a loaded firearm. The driver, 20, said it’s his father’s gun and he has it to feel safe since he sells shoes out of the trunk of his car and carries cash.
Fair unloaded the gun and stuck it in his vest or pocket, then walked the driver over to their squad car. As Fair walked past Collins, Collins said to him, “He’s got a stash of money in his front pocket.”
In the car, the man said something like “Take the gun, I don’t care,” which prompted Fair to loudly say, “Hey hey hey hey, chill chill chill,” in an apparent attempt to drown out the audio. Fair immediately turned off his camera.
Chicago PO Daniel Fair’s body-worn camera shows himself and PO’s Rupert Collins and Kevin Taylor seizing a gun which was later inventoried under a false report. Source: COPA
Collins, with his camera still rolling, walked up behind Fair to hand him the group’s driver’s licenses. Fair appeared to dismissively wave the IDs away. Collins covered up his camera, at which point Fair asked, “Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’ here?”
“Yeah. Oh ok.” Collins quickly walks off to chat with the two passengers for a minute. As his camera showed Fair letting the driver out of the patrol car, Collins turned off his camera.
Chicago PO Rupert Collins’ body-worn camera shows himself and PO’s Daniel Fair and Kevin Taylor seizing a gun which was later inventoried under a false report. Source: COPA
Fair filed a false report later that evening claiming the gun was retrieved when he and the other officers were “waived down by a citizen who…had found a firearm laying in a grassy area.”
Investigators are looking into at least one other instance in which the crew logged three guns as “found property” from a location which is directly contradicted by GPS logs.
It’s not clear what motivated the officers’ actions, but one factor may have been top brass’ emphasis on gun retrieval statistics, without an equal emphasis on protecting residents’ civil rights.
All four officers have been placed on the State’s Attorney’s list of officers who lack the credibility to be called to testify.
In total, the four officers have had 67 complaints lodged against them. Fair and Morrow each have 20 complaints, Collins has 16, and Taylor has 11.
Many complaints make similar allegations of unlawful searches and seizures, and some describe property, drugs, and cash that allegedly were taken and not inventoried. Most were closed as unsustained, as they lacked video evidence, though there are still 13 open investigations which include one or more of the four officers.
These officers are still active, collecting paychecks, and accruing time toward their pensions while answering non-emergency 311 calls with the Alternate Response Section, a unit that is effectively a holding area for cops under investigation or medical disability.
The State’s Attorney petitioned in August to vacate a man’s convictions related to Fair’s testimony. The State’s Attorney’s office has not responded to questions about how many other cases or convictions might be impacted.
In recent years, hundreds of convictions in Cook County have been overturned or are the subject of lawsuits stemming from Chicago police who have a history of coercing confessions, intimidating witnesses, making false statements, and falsifying evidence. Wrongful-conviction lawsuits have cost taxpayers nearly a billion dollars over the past two decades.
COPA has not yet issued their final report on this investigation of the four officers. At this time, Fair is the only one facing criminal charges.
Article originally published by People’s Fabric on December 11, 2023.
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