A Cook County judge sentenced former veteran Chicago Police Officer Lowell Houser to 10 years in prison for the murder of Jose Nieves in a 2017 off-duty shooting. Houser sat slumped in a chair between his lawyers, shackled at the ankles and wearing a black-and-white striped jail jumpsuit, as Judge William Gamboney handed down the sentence. Gamboney, who found 60-year-old Houser guilty of second-degree murder in December, said the case had been a difficult one for him, but acknowledged Houser’s role in escalating an argument with Nieves into a fatal shooting. Houser shot Nieves three times outside a Northwest Side apartment building where both Nieves and a female friend of Houser’s lived. Houser pulled his car up next to Nieves’ girlfriend as she helped Nieves carry boxes to his apartment and told her that Nieves was “terrible to women.” Nieves took exception to the remark, and an argument escalated to gunshots. There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting, and Houser argued he acted in self-defense.
Civil rights violations.
Across the nation, civil rights are being violated every day and police brutality, bias-based policing, and excessive force are at the root of this national crisis, especially in the larger cities like Chicago with approximately 5,211,263 people. Officers are held to a higher standard under color of law to diffuse actions that could lead to death as they have been trained in specialized action to de-escalate arguments that lead to increased violence.
Murder as an outcome.
The recent investigation proved Chicago Police Department Officer Houser guilty of second degree murder, because he allowed a situation to escalate to a fatal encounter. Public view of the department and interactions within communities is resulting in strong resistance from both sides of the argument: upholding an oath to serve and protect; and reactions against officers use of excessive force through overarching authority often yielding personal injury situations and death to citizens.
Broad “use of force” acceptable.
Law enforcement are allowed the “use of force” when necessary, and in accordance with officer training and department policy. The broad-based authority given to police to use force while apprehending criminals, utilizing both physical and psychological methods, to deter and reduce crime is based on policy that dictates what is considered “reasonable” force in any given situation and is often difficult to clarify and measure.
Common forms of police brutality.
Excessive force is not the only violation of police brutality: other actions include false arrest and wrongful imprisonment; wrongful search and seizure activity; sexual harassment; racial and gender discrimination; and general abuse against civilians.
Report negative police action.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has an Office of Professional Review to ensure that employee misconduct is not be tolerated. All complaints must be notarized and signed before being submitted in accordance with Illinois State Law 50 ILCS 725/3.8(b) and delivered to the:
Office of Professional Review
Cook County Sheriff’s Office
3026 South California
Building 2, Fourth Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60608-5110
Wrongful death damages.
Surviving loved ones may be able to sue for damages with the help of a legal professional who has experience in wrongful death claims due to police brutality actions. Damages may include medical expenses, funeral expenses, future lost wages and companionship and pain and suffering caused by the loss.
Seek legal counsel.