CHICAGO — The city has agreed to settle one of three lawsuits brought against a controversial Chicago police lieutenant by officers previously under his command, federal court records show.
CPD officer Xavier Chism filed a federal lawsuit in March 2022 against the city and Lt. Jason Brown. Chism, who worked under Brown in the CPD’s Narcotics Division, alleged that Brown and another supervisor conducted an unwarranted search of public records that were tied Chism and then retaliated against him after he refused to lie about what happened.
The other supervisor, Sgt. Michael Nunez, used LexisNexis — a subscription service that searches public records databases — to look up information about Chism. The details of that search were later shared with Brown and other officers, Chism’s lawsuit alleged.
Chism said that Brown later pressured him to falsely say that he consented to Nunez — also a defendant in the lawsuit — conducting the LexisNexis search. Chism said he refused, and later filed a complaint against his two bosses. As a result of that complaint, Brown blocked Chism’s appointment to a prestigious gun trafficking task force, Chism’s suit alleged.
Federal court records show the city agreed on Tuesday to settle Chism’s lawsuit. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and a representative for the city’s Law Department, as well as Chism’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
Brown faces two more still-pending lawsuits that were brought against him by subordinate officers.
Both of those lawsuits allege that Brown subjected each officer to retaliation after they raised concerns about orders that Brown gave during the period of civil unrest in May 2020.
After looting and violence broke out in cities across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer, the CPD opted to use the parking lots adjacent to Guaranteed Rate Field as staging areas. From there, officers could be quickly dispatched across the city to tamp down the unrest.
Lawsuits brought by two CPD sergeants, Cassandra Williams and Marc Vanek, allege that Brown improperly ordered a team of officers to guard the block where he lives in Bridgeport, less than a mile west of Guaranteed Rate Field.
“There was literally nothing for the officers to do on Brown’s block other than to stand around or sit inside their vehicles,” Williams’ suit states.
“During this critical time, Defendant Brown decided that his own home and block deserved special police protection that no other Chicago home or block received.”
“When Williams later began talking about this abuse of Brown’s authority, first to her colleagues at work and later to City of Chicago investigators and media reporters, Brown retaliated against her with a pattern of conduct designed to make her work life miserable,” the suit continues. “Brown did this because there is an entrenched code of silence in the CPD which makes officers afraid to report the misconduct of other officers, especially if they are higher ranking. This case illustrates how the police code of silence functions in the city of Chicago.”
Since she accused Brown of misconduct, Williams says Brown orchestrated a campaign of retaliation designed to “harass and embarrass” her.
Vanek alleges that he complained to Brown, telling the then-lieutenant that it was unfair to assign resources to his own block while other officers’ homes “did not have personal CPD protection.”
“Lt. Brown responded: Mind your own f—— business, this is my unit and I will do what I want with my people,” Vanek’s suit states.