Former Chicago police commander Jon Burge was released from a Florida halfway house on Friday after spending four and a half years in federal custody for lying about the torture of suspects.
Darlene Tyler, the residential re-entry manager at the federal facility in Orlando, said Burge was released a day early because his scheduled release date fell on a weekend.
Burge, 67, has never been criminally charged with torture, but he was convicted in 2010 of lying about torture in a civil case.
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Cop killer Andrew Wilson was among the first to allege torture in 1983. Photos after his arrest show Wilson suffered injuries to his face.
In the following years, more than 100 suspects, virtually all of them African-American, said they too were tortured by Burge or men under his command at Area 2 police headquarters. Allegations of torture ranged from electro-shock to a person’s gentiles to placing a typewriter cover over a person’s head, making them think they would suffocate.
Darrell Cannon was another who said early on he was forced into a confession. In a 2010 interview he recounted how an officer under Burge’s command placed a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Cannon believed the shotgun was loaded.
"It seemed like the hair on the back of my head stood straight up," Cannon said as tears came to his eyes.
Burge’s trial at the federal building lasted a month. He took the stand and said what he has always said, that ne never tortured a confession out of anyone.
Rick Beuke, one of Burge’s trial attorneys, still maintains Burge’s innocence.
"I don’t think Jon ever resorted to using torture to get evidence in any of the cases he was involved with," Beuke said.
But David Weisman, a former assistant United States Attorney who led the prosecution team, has no doubts.
"I don’t have any question about it,” Weisman said, noting that the statute of limitation had run on charging Burge with torturing suspects in the 1970’s and 80’s.
"He lied on a civil case under oath. Those charges were available and were vigorously pursued,” Weisman said.
Burge served most of his sentence in federal prison in North Carolina. He spent the final months at the halfway house.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013 apologized for what he called a "dark chapter" in the city's history after aldermen signed off on a $12.3 million settlement in two cases associated with Burge. In all, Chicago has paid out more than $80 million to Burge's alleged victims.
Burge’s release comes as another police commander, Glenn Evans, fights charges that he stuck a gun in a suspect’s mouth. Evans has pleaded not guilty to aggravated battery and official misconduct.