Nearly a decade ago — on Oct. 17, 2007 — a civil court jury found that Officer Scott Korhonen, a member of the Chicago Police Department, had committed the assault while his partner Gerald Lodwich observed. The victim, 20-year-old Coprez Coffie, received $4 million compensation for his ordeal, plus almost $675,000 for his legal fees.
However, last month journalist and activist Shaun King exposed the fact that neither officer involved had been arrested on criminal charges. And in fact, they had not even been sanctioned following an internal police investigation. Because of these things, neither officer served time in jail for the crime, and both were allowed to keep their jobs with the police department.
On Aug. 28, 2004, officers Korhonen and Lodwich pulled over a van in which Coffie, a Black man, was riding with friends on Chicago’s west side. The officers searched Coffie, his friends and the van, eventually letting everyone but Coffie leave.
They subsequently strip-searched Coffie, then while he was handcuffed, shoved a screwdriver deep into his rectum, causing him internal injuries.
Additionally, King reports that “the judge call[ed] this injustice a ‘clear case’ where a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ prove[s] that Korhonen inserted a screwdriver into another man’s rectum.” He also writes that “the judge also said that the ‘evidence clearly showed’ that they both lied under oath and gave false testimony.”
So not only was a Black man sexually assaulted by a police officer while another officer watched, a civil court found that they did this in a legal setting, a judge believed that they lied under oath, and they were still allowed to not only walk free, but continue doing their jobs.
The very sparse media coverage on this case, which is a 360-degree miscarriage of justice from nearly every angle, is astounding.