Was it a gun or sunglass case?

    When a metal detector went off at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, two employees who reported that a woman had a gun in her purse were suspended. The facility’s top brass said the woman had a sunglass case, but two fresh lawsuits allege a cover up that raise serious questions about the leadership of Chief Judge Timothy Evans

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    EXHIBIT B: two JTDC employees, a security guard and his supervisor, maintain that the circled item in the above photo is a gun, detected in the first scan of an employee’s purse. Their superiors say it was a sunglass case. EXHIBIT C: a second scan taken when the female employee returned after a seven minute absence shows the contents appear different and rearranged.

    By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader

    Last October, a female employee entered the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) and placed her purse in the metal detector. The device went off. So what was in her purse?

    A security guard, his supervisor and even a Cook County sheriff says the woman had a gun inside her purse. There’s also a photograph showing the firearm. The incident was reported, but the two men who sounded the alarm were suspended for doing their job and following state law.

    Was it a gun or sunglass case? You decide! Take our poll.

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    Their suspensions have raised serious questions in two blistering lawsuits against several high-ranking JTDC officials who are accused of retaliation and working together to smear the reputation of a supervisor while punishing a security guard for reporting an incident as required by law.

    Chief Judge Timothy Evans

    The most prominent defendant in both complaints is one of Cook County’s most respected public officials: Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who is accused of allowing unethical conduct to go unchecked as part of an effort to malign the reputation of a supervisor while favoring Leonard Dixon, whom he appointed as the second highest ranking employee at the JTDC. One lawsuit alleges the suspensions were part of a power move to remove and damage the reputation of Supervisor Fitzgerald Mullins and disqualify him from contention as the next superintendent.

    The Crusader obtained copies of both lawsuits, which were filed in January and May of this year in the Circuit Court of Cook County. They were filed by John Doyle, a security specialist, and Mullins, his supervisor. They filed separate lawsuits, but share the same attorneys: Ivan M. Rittenberg and John Thomas Moran Jr.  Both plaintiffs request a jury trial for their case. Rittenberg said Doyle has worked as a security specialist for eight years at the JTDC. Mullins started working at the facility in 1992, according to his lawsuit.

    Although separate, both lawsuits are related and share the same allegations. However, for Mullins as a supervisor, the suspension could ruin a career that he spent nearly two decades building.

    Doyle reported to Mullins on Oct. 7, 2017 that a woman identified as SIC WEST in the lawsuit entered the JTDC located at 1100 S. Hamilton Ave. On that day, Doyle was assigned to work the metal detector. According to Doyle’s lawsuit, West went through the metal detector and a buzzer went off and scanner lit up. West was asked if she was bringing a firearm into the JTDC. She said no, according to Doyle’s lawsuit.

    West then left the screening area before she was approached by another JTDC officer, who’s identified as Womack in the complaint. Womack told West to return to the screening area, but she took seven minutes to do so, according to Doyle in his lawsuit.

    In Mullins’ lawsuit, it stated that “West was seen leaving the JTDC unaccompanied and meeting a car in front of the building. This occurred while the investigation was in the process and gave her every opportunity to dispose of and remove a firearm.” Doyle’s lawsuit makes the same allegation.

    Both lawsuits say when West returned to the X-ray machine, she placed her handbag on the conveyor belt before it was scanned again from the metal detector. This time, the buzzer did not go off and the scanner did not light up.

    Doyle’s lawsuit provided two before-and-after photo scans of the contents of West’s purse. In the photo taken the first time, a star badge for an officer and what appears to be a firearm are visible. In the other photo scan taken on West’s second trip through the metal detector, both items are gone. It appears that the previously scanned contents had been rearranged.

    Rittenberg—Doyle and Mullins’ attorney—is waiting for a response to his letter requesting surveillance videos at the JTDC, hoping they would confirm his clients’ allegations or suspicions that West left the facility to dispose of the firearm.

    Bringing a firearm into the JTDC by anyone other than a deputy sheriff of Cook County is prohibited by state law. There is a notice posted at the entrance to the JTDC.

    As part of his job, Doyle reported the incident to Mullins, who then, reviewed the two images. Mullins then notified the sheriff and a police report was completed according to his lawsuit. The lawsuit also said the sheriff’s report noted that West had brought an illegal firearm into the JTDC.

    Both lawsuits show Leonard Dixon, superintendent for JTDC, intervened in the case in what was an unusual move for a facility that has its own investigative unit that examines internal incidents involving facility employees.

    Leonard Dixon

    Dixon said the item that appeared in West’s purse was actually a sunglass case and not a firearm. Mullins’ lawsuit says Dixon then requested the sheriff’s office not to investigate Mullin’s report or take a report on it. Mullins said in his lawsuit that Dixon then ordered him to tell his staff that the item West brought into the JTDC was a sunglass case and not a gun.

    Mullins and Doyle said they were victims of retaliation for doing their jobs. Mullins was suspended on Nov. 3 for one day and Doyle for 20 days. Both were suspended without pay. Doyle was charged with violation of “General Work Rules” and “Employee Safety.” Mullins’ lawsuit gave no reasons for his suspension. West was not disciplined.

    Based on the lawsuits, the suspensions were approved without Dixon, deputy superintendent Diane McGhee and personnel hearing officer Bruce Burger ever presenting any evidence to support their claim that the item was indeed a sunglass case. All of the deputies are named as defendants in Doyle’s lawsuit.

    In their lawsuits, Mullins and Doyle claim they were excluded by Dixon and his deputies “from all aspects” of the investigation that led to their suspensions.

    Both lawsuits claim that Dixon, McGhee and Burger conspired together under the authority of Evans, who according to the complaint, “had a duty to insure, direct and control the conduct of his subordinates, the other defendants, herein, so they did not violate Illinois or federal law.”

    Questions remain as to why it took West so long to return to the screening area and whether a sunglass case can set off a metal detector when it is scanned in a handbag.

    In his lawsuit, Doyle claims the real reason he was suspended was because Dixon viewed Doyle as a political ally of Mullins

    Mullins, in his lawsuit, said, “It was common knowledge…that he would seek the superintendent position when Dixon’s term expired.”

    Because they were suspended, both plaintiffs question why Dixon or his deputies never produced any evidence of the sunglass case to justify their decision. Mullins’ lawsuit claims that as part of police procedures, the sunglass case should have been inventoried, photographed and captured on image from the metal detector. Mullins alleges none of this was done and he, Doyle and their attorneys are demanding answers.

    Pat Milhizer, Evans’ director of communications, stated that by Illinois law, sitting judges are prohibited from commenting on impending litigation.

    As of press time Wednesday, Crusader staff researchers found no filed responses to the lawsuits.

    The State’s Attorney General’s office is representing Evans. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office is representing the other defendants.

    The Illinois Attorney General’s office has until June 12 to file a response to Mullins’ lawsuit. The Cook County State’s Attorney has until June 11 to file a response to Doyle’s lawsuit. Motions have been filed to dismiss both lawsuits, but Rittenberg amended Mullins’ complaint in May to strengthen his case. The next court date for Mullins lawsuit is June 19. The next court date for Doyle’s lawsuit is June 20.

    Doyle demands that JTDC compensate him twice the amount of lost pay, including interest on back pay and attorney fees. Mullins seeks $100,000 in damages and compensation, twice the amount of back pay and attorney fees as well. Mullins also seeks to have the violations removed from his personnel file, placing him in the same position held before the alleged retaliatory act.

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    3 COMMENTS

    1. Dixon is a terrible administrator whose number one concern is his image. He was worried about his reappointment and how this incident would fare with the Chief Judge, so he covered it up. The cover up is ALWAYS WORSE than the crime. Sadly, this whole fiasco has caused some really good employees to be targeted for merely doing their jobs. Shame on you Mr. Dixon. Ultimately, the blame is on the Chief Judge for this getting as out of hand as it has, many staffers have complained about Dixon’s conduct on this issue and others, but they all went on deaf ears. Looks like now the tax payers may have to pay the price.

    2. I’m an employee at the JTDC so I shall remain anonymous. Suffice it to say, that incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many of us. The morale has plummeted and I’ve never seen it this low in my near two decade’s there. Mr. Dixon is an ego-maniac who is hard pressed on saying that was a sunglasses case. We’re not idiots. We just go along with his stories most of the time, to avoid being targeted by him or his cronies. Many of us are former career law enforcementor or second career public safety professionals, we know what a firearm looks like. You should see the color images…it’s definitely a firearm! He needs to go and everyone whom he appointed to leadership positions needs to go as well. They’re all complicit in my opinion in creating such a toxic environment as a result of this situation. Retaliation by Mr. Dixon and his cherry picked band of Michiganites is an everyday event. From the Deputy Superintendent, to the Chief of Staff to many management staff, they carry out his targeting without question. Kudos to SIC Mullins and Officer Doyle for standing their ground. They’ll definitely need support after this article. We’re all waiting to see if a union leader, gets terminated or susupended next, as our Union will be having a Vote of No Confidence next week. Hopefully, it’ll be the added nudge needed to have the Chief Judge finally stop drinking the Dixon punch and do something about this!

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