Charged with murder, but they didn’t kill anyone -- police did

Flowers, Alison; Macareg, Sarah
Date Written:  2016-08-18
Publisher:  Chicago Reader
Year Published:  2016
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX19948

A Reader investigation found ten cases since 2011 where police killed a civilian in Chicago and charged an accomplice with the murder.



In Illinois and other states, the felony murder rule stipulates that if death is a foreseeable result of the crime, then a participant in the felony can be liable for any death -- even if the bullets were fired by the police, and even if the victim is the accused's partner.

Guyora Binder, a professor at the University at Buffalo Law School and the author of a scholarly book on felony murder, sees charges filed under these circumstances as a red flag for police misconduct.

"A felony murder charge for an arrestee where a police officer has killed somebody is an indicator that the police officer probably engaged in misconduct," Binder says, explaining that in situations where police have behaved irresponsibly and caused death, prosecutors will often turn around and charge an arrestee with the killing.

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