Bollyn Case and Police Torture in Chicago

19 February 2007

There is a long history of the police in Chicago using torture on suspects. While most of the people who have been subjected to torture sessions by the Chicago police are black, there are a growing number of people of all races being subjected to instant torture by TASER.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and former Mayor Jane Byrne were added as defendants in a civil suit alleging that city officials conspired for 25 years to cover up the torture of suspects by police, USA Today reported on February 15, 2007.

To get an idea of the history of police torture in Chicago, I recommend the archive of Jon Conroy articles on torture from the Chicago Reader.



I was unexpectedly assaulted from behind by three heavily-armed men wearing body armor last August after I called 911. I had made the 911 call because of my concern that this carload of men seemed to be prowling around my house for a second day in a row.

About 15 minutes later these same men appeared at my house where they assaulted me after I asked them to identify themselves, which they refused to do.

While I was pinned down by two men, one of whom kneeling with his full body weight on my head, I was shocked with a TASER. I was unable to move any of my limbs and my left hand was handcuffed behind my back and my right hand was pressed against the ground beneath my torso. I was completely restrained when I was TASERed. The police assault resulted in my right elbow being fractured.

I was held down in this position for several minutes. My wife said that my face turned purple and that my eyes were bulging out from the pressure that was being applied to my temple from the knee of the 200-pound man kneeling on my head. I would consider this use of excessive force to also be a form of torture. This method is used to paralyze the body by pressing on the important nerve center on the side of the head.

Because in my case the use of the TASER was completely unjustified and gratuitous, this was clearly done maliciously as an act of torture. To shock a person with 50,000 volts when there is absolutely no compelling or valid reason to do so is torture.

The questions remain: Why was I TASERed? When was the decision made to TASER me? Who made this decision? Why were no warnings or orders given before I was TASERed?

The three men who did this to me were unidentified men wearing jeans and tee-shirts, who I learned one month later, were officers of the Hoffman Estates police force. The police department had refused to identify my assailants for the first 30 days.

Many of the senior officers of the HEPD are sons of former Chicago police officers. After the assault, they told my brother that they were doing gang-suppression although there are no gangs in my neighborhood. Apparently I was the gang that needed suppressing.

Later, I was told by Lt. Joseph Perritano that these men had been doing “cross-training.” There were about 6 police cars and two fire department vehicles that arrived within minutes of the tactical squad’s arrival at my house. The uniformed police stayed off my property and simply watched the assault. Was a police video made of this assault?

The person who shocked me with the TASER was Officer Michael Barber, who worked with the Dept. of Homeland Security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The officer who knelt on my head was Tim Stoy, a former guard at Cook County Jail. Officer Darin Felgenhauer physically blocked and threatened my wife with arrest if she dared to take any photographs of the assault.

At no point prior to the assault did these three men identify themselves or explain why they were on my property. Furthermore, they did not say that they had responded to my 911 call.

I will appear in Cook County Circuit Court at 2121 Euclid in Rolling Meadows, IL, tomorrow morning, February 20 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 107 and ask the judge to allow my attorney, Jack Smeeton, to withdraw from the case. Smeeton, a former supervisor with the state’s attorneys office refuses to subpoena the police transmissions that would reveal what the police planned to do and who decided to send this undercover tactical unit to my house in response to my 911 call.

People who feel that police abuse and torture need to be challenged are invited to attend my court session. I am in need of funds for my legal defense. Any donation to my legal defense fund is greatly appreciated:

Bollyn Legal Defense Fund:


The MacArthur Justice Center issued a press release on February 14, 2006 from attorneys for a torture victim named Darrell Cannon. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and former Mayor Jane Byrne were added as Defendants in a lawsuit alleging they conspired with State’s Attorney Richard Devine, Area 2 Commander Jon Burge, and numerous of his men to cover up systematic torture of African-American suspects.

(This is the same state’s attorney, Dick Devine, who appointed a special prosecutor, Elizabeth Hantzos, to handle my case in which I am charged with two misdemeanors: resisting arrest and aggravated assault against a peace officer. Can I expect to receive justice in Cook County?)

The press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago on February 14 discussed details surrounding the alleged cover-up by Chicago and Cook County officials. The complaint charged more than fifty overt acts of alleged obstruction of justice, perjury, racketeering, violation of civil rights, and conspiracy by Burge, Daley, Devine, and other defendants.

Darrell Cannon has spent more than 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit but was coerced into confessing to after being taken, in November of 1983, to a remote torture site and tortured with electric-shock, mock execution, and racial abuse by several Area 2 detectives, including Sergeant John Byrne and detective Peter Dignan, acting under Jon Burge’s supervision.

Several judicial and administrative bodies, including the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, and investigators for the Chicago Police Department have previously found that there is strong evidence that Cannon was tortured.

Evidence shows that Burge and his subordinates tortured more than 100 African-American suspects during a 20-year period, in an effort to compel defendants into falsely confessing to crimes.

Cannon’s amended lawsuit alleges that Daley and Devine were complicit in a concerted cover-up of the torture by refusing to prosecute Burge for torturing suspects, withholding evidence of this torture, prosecuting defendants who had been victimized by the ruthless police techniques, by making false statements to the media, and by giving false and incomplete statements to the special prosecutors.


Photo: The Bollyn family at Buckingham Fountain after shopping for a lawyer in Chicago last August.




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