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Basketfield v. Police Bd. of Chicago

JUNE 28, 1972.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD F. HEALY, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied July 26, 1972.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Cook County reversing a decision of the Police Board of the City of Chicago. On December 11, 1967, the Superintendent of Police filed charges against William Basketfield, and a hearing was held before the Police Board on January 10, 1969. The Board found him guilty of the charges and ordered him discharged from the Department of Police of the City of Chicago. The Circuit Court of Cook County reversed the decision of the Police Board and ordered Basketfield reinstated.

The issue on appeal is whether the ruling of the trial court in reversing the findings and decision of the Police Board and reinstating the plaintiff was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

On October 19, 1967, Lieutenant Basketfield of Area 2 Auto Theft received a call from Officer McCarthy, who advised him he had received information that there were tires stored at 8112 South Maryland Avenue and suggested the garage be kept under surveillance. Basketfield assigned Detective Booker Jones to keep watch on the garage. On the same day Patrolmen Walsh and Murray received an anonymous call and went to the garage and removed a number of tires and took them to the C & D Auto Parts Company. On October 20, Walsh told Basketfield between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning he and his partner had recovered some tires, but they did not know to whom the tires belonged. Basketfield told Walsh to follow up the investigation to determine the ownership and to inform Sergeant John Bangert what they were working on.

Later in the morning of the 20th, Officer Bangert told Basketfield that Detective Jack Muller was inquiring about the tires recovered by Walsh and Murray. Officer Bangert testified he told Basketfield no tires had been inventoried, but Basketfield stated he was not informed of that fact. Detective Muller was assigned out of Area 5 Auto Theft and was working on a case concerning the theft of a truck containing tires, which had occurred on October 10, 1967. Muller had talked to the owner of the garage at 8112 South Maryland and was told two police officers had taken the tires. After calling several police facilities in an effort to determine who might have taken the tires, Muller went to Area 2 and searched the lock-up. When he was unable to find the tires he talked with Detective Beckman, who pointed out Patrolman Walsh as being one who knew something about the tires. Muller talked with Walsh and then went out to his car and waited. Muller testified the tires were brought in by Detective Frank Lynch in a squad car about 2:22 in the afternoon.

Basketfield went to lunch around 12:00 o'clock at the Beverly House and then went on to Area 5 headquarters where he received a call from Officer Bangert about the tires. He testified he said at that time, "Well, there still shouldn't be any problem because the tires are in the lock-up in the inventory but I'll get there as soon as I finish here and we'll see what's to it."

When Basketfield returned to his office about 3:30 he talked to Jack Muller, who told him, "I've been looking all over for those tires for two weeks. I finally find the tires and nobody will give them to me." Muller told Basketfield the tires were in the lock-up but had not been inventoried. When Patrolman Walsh was asked why the tires had not been inventoried, Walsh said he thought his partner Murray had done it. Walsh asked what date should be put in the inventory book and Basketfield told him to indicate recovery on the 19th and have Sergeant Bangert sign as of the 20th.

According to the testimony of Jack Muller, upon entering his office he told Basketfield, "You knew that they were never inventoried and that if they didn't turn up hot, you were going to sell them and cut them up between the three of you." Basketfield denied that any such conversation took place. Muller did not include such a conversation in his report of November 5.

Officer Frank Lynch testified he went to C & D Auto Parts at about 2:00 in the afternoon, the tires were loaded into the squad car by employees of C & D Auto Parts, and he arrived back at Area 2 about 2:30. He stated Lieutenant Basketfield asked him if he would go down to the I.I.D. and give a statement saying that he did not bring back the tires to keep the other two men from getting dumped. He made such a statement to the I.I.D. but said the statement was false. On cross-examination Lynch said he had been told by the State's Attorney's office he would be indicted unless he changed his story and told the truth. Lieutenant Basketfield denied he asked Lynch to make such a statement and denied he even knew why Lynch had been called in.

On Monday, October 23, Basketfield talked to Captain Lynch, who asked him to have Walsh and Murray make out a report as to how they recovered the tires. Lynch told him to keep the report until he asked for it. Basketfield said he tendered the report to Lynch on November 10, but Lynch did not accept it because he was under investigation at that time. He said he later submitted the report to the Police Department at the disciplinary board hearing when Commander Lynch was being questioned by three Deputy Chiefs in the presence of Harry Ervanian, the Department Advocate. Ervanian testified he remembers hearing a reference to the reports at that time but did not remember that Basketfield submitted the reports during the hearing.

Commander Braasch testified he had known William Basketfield since 1963 as deputy commander and he had worked for him. He considered him to be a capable supervisor and his reputation in the Police Department and in the community for honesty and integrity was good. Captain Edward Flynn testified he knew Basketfield for about seven years and his general reputation in the Police Department and in the community was excellent. Aurelio Garcia, a lieutenant of police, testified he had known Basketfield for about sixteen years and that his reputation among the members of the police and the members of the community was excellent.

No complaint had ever been filed against Basketfield previous to this incident.

In the findings and decision the Police Board found that William Basketfield was guilty of violating Rule 2 in that on or about October 19, 1967, he committed an unlawful act by knowingly obtaining and exerting unauthorized control over tires, the property of Vogue Tyre and Rubber Company; that he failed to take reasonable measures to restore the tires to their owner and intended to deprive the owner permanently of the use and benefit of the tires; that he conspired with Patrolmen Walsh and Murray and agreed knowingly and intentionally to obtain and exert unauthorized control over a quantity of tires with the intent to deprive the property owner permanently of the use or benefit of the tires, and that in furtherance of the conspiracy assigned Murray and Walsh to investigate a report of stolen tires, and that Murray and Walsh, under color of investigation, did ...

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