The number of lawsuits facing a Chicago police officer accused of trumping up bogus charges against gay and lesbian drivers has nearly doubled.
New dashcam video from Officer Richard Fiorito's squad car released Thursday shows him following a car in the early morning hours of June 13. The video appears to record an uneventful drive, but in his report Fiorito said the driver was swerving from lane to lane and narrowly missing parked cars.
It is more evidence, activists say, of an ongoing scheme by Fiorito of making up DUI charges and then earning overtime pay when he appeared to testify on those charges in court.
Thayer and attorney Jon Erickson said 16 more people will be joining a civil lawsuit that began with 21 drivers last month.
One of the plaintiffs in the new suit says he and some friends were stopped in the heart of Boystown on a suspected DUI. He said he was released after passing his field sobriety tests, but moments later and two blocks away was pulled over again by Fiorito.
"I thought that it was just a bad situation. The fact that I was just let go, and if I was intoxicated, and I couildn't drive, why was I instructed to leave and go home?" said Lex Leaks.
Fiorito, already on desk duty because of an investigation Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the Independent Police Review Authority, denies the charges. While the investigation is underway, the department will not use any of his testimony in any drunk driving cases.
Activists said they plan to take their demands to the Chicago Police Board when it meets next Thursday at police headquarters.
"I think that there's still a great deal of concern amongst those who have been arrested by officer Fiorito and victimized by his criminal enterprise, that he be charged with for the crimes he's committed," Erickson said.
Fiorito has been honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for the 313 DUI arrests he made between Jan. 1, 2007 and June 6, 2008.
He said that if he's called to testify in these cases, he will assert his 5th Amendment rights.
Fiorito is the third Chicago cop accused of trumping up DUI charges. Last year, prosecutors dropped more than 50 cases after accusing Chicago officer John Haleas of perjury. Earlier this year, dozens of DUI arrests by officer Joe Parker came under scrutiny.