CHICAGO — A jury was selected Monday in the case of a Chicago police sergeant who claims he faced retaliatory behavior after refusing to look the other way during the investigation of a controversial 2017 police shooting on the Far South Side.
CPD Sgt. Isaac Lambert filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city in 2019, alleging that he was removed from the department’s detective bureau because he refused to classify another CPD sergeant as the victim in the shooting of 18-year-old Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes in the Morgan Park neighborhood more than five years ago.
“They wanted me to have some reports changed to fit the narrative that they wanted,” Lambert previously said. “They wanted this kid charged with aggravated assault and the elements just weren’t there.”
After several hours of questions from Judge Thomas More Donnelly and attorneys for both sides, 16 people were selected as jurors from a pool of 42. Opening statements in the case, which is expected to last about three weeks, are scheduled for Tuesday at the Daley Center.
Lambert’s lawsuit seeks his reinstatement to the detective division as well as other damages.
In August 2017, Hayes’ caretaker reported him missing from his Morgan Park home. A few hours later, Hayes was seen running through the neighborhood by CPD Sgt. Khalil Muhammad, who was off-duty at the time.
Home security footage previously released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows Hayes running down the sidewalk before stopping near 10947 S. Hermosa. After he stopped, Hayes took a few steps toward Muhammad’s vehicle, which was idling in the street about 20 feet away.
As Hayes stepped into the parkway, Muhammad fired two rounds. Hayes suffered a gunshot wound to his armpit, and the other bullet grazed his arm. After he was shot, he took off running again, but was soon found by first responders.
In December 2019, the Chicago Police Board suspended Muhammad for six months for shooting Hayes. A federal lawsuit filed against the city on Hayes’ behalf was settled for $2.25 million the following year.
Earlier this year, Donnelly ordered Mayor Lori Lightfoot to sit for an hourlong deposition as part of the case’s discovery process. Attorneys for Lambert wanted to question the mayor about a 2016 report authored by the Police Accountability Task Force, a group formed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and chaired by Lightfoot, who was the president of the Chicago Police Board at the time.
The PATF released a report in April 2016 which found, among other things, “The collective bargaining agreements between the police unions and the City have essentially turned the code of silence into official policy.”
Last month, attorneys for the city persuaded Donnelly to instead allow Lightfoot to answer questions in writing.
A second whistleblower lawsuit stemming from the shooting, filed by another high-ranking CPD official, remains pending in Cook County Circuit Court.