City attorneys seek to reverse order that Lightfoot testify in CPD whistleblower lawsuit

CHICAGO — Attorneys for the city are asking a Cook County judge to reverse a previous ruling in a last-ditch effort to spare Mayor Lori Lightfoot from testifying about the alleged “code of silence” within the Chicago Police Department.

Last month, Cook County Judge Thomas More Donnelly ordered Lightfoot sit for an hour-long deposition as part of a 2019 whistleblower lawsuit brought against the city by a CPD sergeant. The sergeant, Isaac Lambert, alleges that he was retaliated against and demoted after he refused to classify another CPD officer as the victim in a controversial police shooting on the Far South Side in August 2017.

“They wanted me to have some reports changed to fit the narrative that they wanted,” Lambert previously said. “They wanted this kid charged with aggravated assault and the elements just weren’t there.”

Attorneys for Lambert want to question Lightfoot about the alleged “code of silence” within the CPD. Before she was elected mayor, Lightfoot — then the president of the Chicago Police Board — chaired the Police Accountability Task Force, which was formed after the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.

The PATF released a report in April 2016 which found, among other things, “The collective bargaining agreements between the police unions and the City have essentially turned the code of silence into official policy.”

In his Sept. 23 order, Donnelly said Lightfoot’s deposition must take place before Oct. 15. Attorneys for the city, however, filed a motion on Sept. 29 asking the judge to reconsider his prior ruling. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday, and the trial is scheduled to begin next month, court records show.

In their motion to reconsider, city attorneys said a deposition of Lightfoot was nothing more than “an unnecessary oral interrogation, brought for no articulable reason other than to harass and inconvenience the highest elected official in the third largest city in the nation.”

Lambert’s lawsuit stems from a police shooting on the Far South Side in Aug. 13, 2017.

Sgt. Khalil Muhammad was driving near the 10900 block of South Hermosa when he saw Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes, an 18-year-old man with autism, who, hours earlier, was reported missing from his nearby home. Muhammad was off-duty at the time, wearing civilian clothes and driving a personal vehicle.

Home security footage previously released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows Hayes running down the sidewalk before stopping near 10947 S. Hermosa. After he stopped, Hayes took a few steps toward Muhammad’s vehicle, which was idling in the street about 20 feet away.

As Hayes stepped into the parkway, Muhammad fire two rounds. Hayes suffered a gunshot wound to his armpit, and the other bullet grazed his arm. After he was shot, he took off running again, but was soon found by first responders.

In December 2019, the Chicago Police Board suspended Muhammad for six months. A federal lawsuit filed against the city on Hayes’ behalf was settled for $2.25 million the following year. 

Attorneys for the city convinced another Cook County judge earlier this year that Lightfoot should not sit for a deposition in the sex abuse lawsuit filed against former CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson.

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