Chicago's police oversight agency has cited a veteran officer for more than 60 rule violations, blasting him for repeatedly posting insensitive racial and religious comments on Facebook and promoting violence against police protesters, Muslims and others.
In addition to the Facebook posts, Officer Brian J. Hansen allegedly parked his Chevrolet Equinox outside the Central District police station at 1718 S. State St. with a bumper sticker on the back windshield showing a truck running over fleeing protesters beside the words: “All lives splatter. Nobody cares about your protest.”
In a 95-page report obtained by the Chicago Tribune through an open-records request, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability used unusually strong language to condemn Hansen’s actions, leaving little doubt that it favored his firing even though it publicly declined to give its position.
In its conclusion to its findings, COPA made clear that it had no faith in Hansen carrying out “fair and impartial” law enforcement to everyone in Chicago, regardless of their ethnic and sociological backgrounds.
“There can be no doubt, based on PO Hansen’s Facebook activity and vehicle decals, that PO Hansen cannot live out this mission,” the investigators wrote.
Neither Hansen nor the lawyer representing him in the COPA proceedings returned telephone calls. But COPA said in interviews with investigators, Hansen tried to laugh off his postings as an indication of his sense of humor and insisted his off-duty comments were protected by the First Amendment.
In a footnote in its report, however, COPA said courts have routinely held that officers can be fired for bigoted speech without violating the First Amendment.
Hansen, a 25-year department veteran, has been stripped of his police powers and assigned to paid desk duty since August, according to the COPA report. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has up to three months to decide if he will recommend Hansen’s firing to the Chicago Police Board, which would then decide his fate.
Since becoming a Chicago police officer in 1992, Hansen has been named in at least 57 complaints, with allegations ranging from excessive force to minor personnel violations, according to Police Department records. Fewer than 1 percent of the officers who started that same year have more complaints, according to a Tribune analysis of the department records. He was suspended at least four times — an unusually high number of times, the analysis shows — but for no more than five days at a time.
He has also been named, records show, as a defendant in at least four federal lawsuits, including one that settled for $85,000 and another for $14,750 involving allegations, the plaintiff lawyer said, that Hansen beat a protester with a retractable baton on the Magnificent Mile in June 2012....Read more