- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - A judge on Wednesday ruled that DNA evidence from the gun a Chicago police commander allegedly shoved into the throat of a suspect can be presented at evidence during his trial.

In another case drawing attention as the nation scrutinizes how police officers accused of crimes are treated by the law, Judge Diane Cannon rejected the argument that taking a swab from Commander Glenn Evans service weapon was an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Cannon said a swab from the gun was justified, comparing it to the routine practice of testing an officer’s service weapon after a shooting.

“We have a commander who voluntarily turned over his gun” that was allegedly used in a crime, said Cannon in response to attorney Laura Morask’s contention that Evans was forced to turn over the weapon for testing.

The ruling bolsters the contention that Evans pushed the weapon into the mouth of Rickey Williams and threatened to kill him after chasing him into an abandoned house on the city’s South Side in January 2013.

Without the DNA evidence, prosecutors would rely more heavily on convincing the judge to believe the testimony of Williams, a black man convicted of marijuana possession, over the testimony of Evans, a highly decorated and widely respected police officer.

The ruling is also significant to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office as it tries to win a conviction for the highest ranking member of the department in recent memory to face criminal charges. As is the case with other prosecutors’ office around the country, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office is being watched closely to see how it treats police officers accused of mistreating African Americans. In Baltimore, Cincinnati, and North Charleston, South Carolina, officers have been charged in connection with the deaths of African Americans.

In Chicago, where the police department has long tried to shake a reputation for brutality, there have been recent cases that have both been encouraging as well as cases that raise more questions about the police force.

The City Council was praised for paying reparation to men who were tortured several years ago by police. And earlier this year, the council approved a $5 million settlement to the family of a teenager who died after being shot by a police officer 16 times last year instead of waiting for the results of the investigation that is still being conducted.

But in April, a decision by a judge to acquit an off-duty Chicago police officer of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed African American woman triggered protests.

Now much of the attention will shift to Evans, who is charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. An African American, Evans is a decorated officer who has won wide praise both within and outside the department as a crime fighter. He has also been the subject of several misconduct complaints and civil rights activists point to the way he has climbed through the ranks despite those complaints as evidence that the department ignores brutal behavior if it results in arrests.

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