Twenty-one people were roughed up and called anti-gay slurs by a Chicago police officer who trumped up bogus charges against lesbian and gay motorists, says the Gay Liberation Network -- and video released Tuesday appears to dispute the officer's report of a June arrest.
Officer Richard Fiorito has 21 federal suits filed against him, with 10-20 more expected within weeks, according to a release from Erickson & Oppenheimer, the firm representing the plaintiffs.
Attorneys accuse Fiorito of making the false arrests for the last six years in a scheme to earn extra overtime pay.
"He intends to be dual motivated," said attorney Jon Erickson during a Tuesday morning press conference. "One, for the money, and two, to target gays and lesbians."
Fiorito continues to work as an officer, make arrests and testify under oath, all while being investigated by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the Independent Police Review Authority, Erickson said.
In dash cam video from Fiorito's squad car, he is shown conducting field sobriety tests against a driver, Michael Vaughn.
In each of the tests, Vaughn performed "perfectly," Erickson said, yet Fiorito noted in the official report that Vaughn had failed them.
The recording was made June 21, 2009, months after the 21 federal suits had already been filed and after the accusations against Fiorito were well-known by the police department.
In a case filed in February, a man named Shawn Rauch said he was "manhandled" by Fiorito and called anti-gay names, the Chicago Tribune reported. Rauch was charged with DUI, his lawyer said, but Fiorito never performed field-sobriety tests, nor did he conduct a breathalyzer test.
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.