It reads like one of those old, hard-boiled detective stories. A cold-case murder in a small Chicago suburb. A cover-up to protect powerful local businessmen and political donors. A corrupt police chief who says “Let sleeping dogs lie,” and a grieving mother who only wants to find her little boy’s killer. And amid all that, the rarest of creatures in any time: The Last Good Cop, risking his own career in the name of justice. Indeed, it reads like a screenplay from the 1940s, where the bad guys wore black fedoras and good guys drove Hudson Hornets. But this is no movie; a real little boy is dead, and the bad guys wear blue shirts. But so, as it turns out, does the good guy.
It started with a hit-and-run case from 2005. The victim was one Robbie Silva. At the time, he was out doing what kids in Blue Island do on the first day of December: sledding. In the midst of his fun, someone driving a white Ford pickup truck ran him down…and took off. They were never caught or formally charged. But that doesn’t mean police didn’t know who did it; in fact, they had a suspect almost right away.
The man, who was connected i only the most distant it’s-a-small-town kind of way to Silva’s family was one of the first to contact Silva’s mother after the accident. Wracked with guilt he couldn’t speak, the man pleaded remorse to Robbie’s mother, whom he barely knew. He got to know her better, though, when he showed up out of the blue among close friends and family members, and awkwardly to helped erect Robbie’s roadside memorial.
That didn’t go without notice from the family or police; nor did the fact that the man in question drive a white, Ford pickup truck. But when police investigated him further, they found out he was dating the sister of a prominent local businessman. A businessman who had contracts with the city, made large political contributions there, and was good friends with the acting police chief, Michael Cornell.
Shortly after the killing, the suspect left the state, and his girlfriend behind, disappearing into parts unknown.
Haro pickep up the case in 2006, and met immediate resistance. He was stonewalled by his colleagues, notably his own boss, then Deputy Chief Michael Cornell. Cornell kept the case files from Haro, stalling the case. But in 2009, Robbie’s mother, Bethany Thomas called Haro in desperation, still looking for her son’s killer. Haro re-opened the cold case, having to all but steal the files from his boss to retrieve them. And what he found indicated something dark was afoot.
Several important documents regarding evidence and witness testimony were missing from the file. But included in it was a report from Cornell himself on the results of a polygraph test given to the suspect’s girlfriend — his friend and contributor’s sister. Cornell’s report said she passed the polygraph test with flying colors.
However, when Haro dug a little deeper and found the original polygraph results, they were “inconclusive.” Meaning, in police terms, either the equipment was rigged, the polygraph operator was crooked, or the result were accurate and just this side of a verifiable flaming lie. In any case, “inconclusive” said the tests, “passed” said Cornell’s report.
Haro approached Cornell, and told him he’d reopened the case. He’d found out what state the suspect was living in, and wanted to gather a team, and start a new round of gathering testimony and evidence. In fact, they’d already begun, and were going along well. But according to Haro’s whistleblower report, Cornell tried to stonewall him again, and advised him
“…to let sleeping dogs lie.”
But Haro and his team refused to let any dogs sleep, and were making strong headway into this cold case. But then, the Chief of Police retired, moving Deputy Chief Michael Cornell up into his spot by default. One of his first acts: to take Haro off of the Silva case.
“Shortly after,” Haro said “I was told I was no longer involved in the case. [And] no, they didn’t [say why].”
Since Cornell took charge, Haro has been doing his best to dig the Silva case back up, and find justice for the murdered child’s mother. And he’s been rewarded with retaliation from the top, including two instances of a 90-day suspension without pay for offenses he says were completely trumped up.
Ninety days suspension without pay — Hell, by Cleveland standards, Haro must have randomly murdered at least a dozen 12-year-olds to warrant that.
But despite Cornell’s best attempts, Haro hasn’t given up. Last week, Haro filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the department for $50,000 in damages related to investigation, and retaliatory actions since. then. And while some might see this as a cash-grab on Hapart, there’s pretty sound rationale behind it.
Those filing whistleblower lawsuits are protected by the law from retaliation. While Haro no doubt has been monetarily damaged by the retaliation from Cornell, the case is more than anything else a pretext to blow the lid off the cover-up, and re-open the case. The lawyer, James Vanzant of Kurtz Law, will take his cut off the top– and in return, he’ll help to find a side-road into legally exposing the entire quagmire of corruption. And clear his own name in the process. It’s a tangent means of penetrating criminal injustice through the civil courts…but a valid one nonetheless. Haro said
“I built a career that was based on integrity, and my peers within law enforcement will tell you that. And to go what I’m going through right now because of what I did, which was the right thing, to try and give a grieving mother closure — that needs to be held accountable.”
It’s a story that reads like fiction — a hard-boiled detective’s tale, or a reel of film pulled straight from the mind of Martin Scorsese. But it’s a story that needs to be told, especially now. With injustice the new norm in our “justice system,” oppression the new norm on the street, and a nation filled full to the brim with Darren Wilsons…at least one, and maybe the last, Good Cop still stands.
And that, sadly, is no fiction.
H/T: Fox News Chicago