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Chicago Police Detective Accused of Brutality Used Similar Techniques at Guantanamo

In an ironic twist of fate, a former Chicago police detective accused of acts of brutality against suspects in police custody has been cited for using similar tactics at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to the London-based Guardian newspaper, former detective Richard Zuley stands accused by multiple victims of beatings and abuse in his Chicago police work as well as wrongful convictions – leading to comparisons with disgraced former Chicago police detective Jon Burge. [See: PLN, Oct. 2015, p.60; Oct. 2004, p.1].

In 1990, Lathierial Boyd, a young black Chicago businessman, was arrested by Zuley and accused of murder. After searching his upscale home, Zuley allegedly told Boyd “no nigger is supposed to live like this.” Boyd was wrongfully convicted of homicide in October 1990 despite having an alibi, and served 23 years in Illinois prisons before being exonerated and released. Zuley was accused of concealing exculpatory evidence in the case.

Other defendants in Chicago, mostly poor and black, told of being shackled to police station walls by Zuley until they gave confessions, whether they were guilty or not. One defendant, Anthony Garrett, said Zuley beat a confession out of him; others claimed the detective threatened their family members.

Then, sometime around 2003, Zuley, who was also a Navy Reserve lieutenant, began interrogating terrorism suspects at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Prisoners who came in contact with him at the controversial facility accused him of torture.

Although neither Zuley nor U.S. government authorities would confirm his role at Guantanamo, retired Army Major General Mark Furlow said “Zuley was one of those individuals in such a unique situation that our processes, system of checks and balances at that time were unable to provide clear guidance.”

Terrorism suspects said Zuley’s interrogation techniques – which mirrored those he used in Chicago – led to false confessions. He was accused of repeatedly crossing the line, and was specifically cited in the initial 2005 Guantanamo torture report as a “rogue” investigator. The tactics he used reportedly included placing detainees in stress positions and threatening their families with harm.

Although he spent over two decades in prison for his wrongful conviction, Boyd was much more fortunate than many of the detainees at Guantanamo, finally winning an evidentiary hearing on April 29, 2004 where he came face-to-face with his accuser, who was wearing a Navy dress uniform.

“Now I am Lieutenant Commander Richard Zuley, United States Navy,” he said. “I am assigned to the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo as an officer in charge of one of the teams down there for the intelligence collection.”

After that hearing Boyd was confined for an additional ten years until he finally got lucky. In 2013, Cook County State’s Attorney investigators interviewed Zuley, who had since returned to Chicago and was working for the city’s Department of Aviation, as part of an extensive reinvestigation into Boyd’s case, but he declined to cooperate.

Shortly thereafter all charges against Boyd were dismissed, with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez citing the flimsy evidence used to convict him.

Boyd finally walked free after 23 years in prison. He has since filed a federal civil rights suit seeking damages for his wrongful conviction and incarceration, which remains pending – just another sad chapter in the U.S. justice system, Chicago-style. See: Boyd v. City of Chicago, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ill.), Case No. 1:13-cv-07152.

Zuley, who is named as a defendant in Boyd’s lawsuit and several other suits, has not been charged with any criminal offense.


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Related legal case

Boyd v. City of Chicago