Chicago cop charged with destroying evidence, official misconduct in gun inventory scandal

CHICAGO — A grand jury has returned a true bill of indictment against a Chicago police officer who, along with three colleagues, has been under investigation on allegations that they improperly seized and inventoried handguns while on patrol duties in the Calumet (5th) District.

Daniel Fair, 34, is charged with felony counts of official misconduct by committing a forbidden act, official misconduct by obstructing a criminal investigation, and two felony counts of obstruction of justice by destroying evidence, according to court records. He is scheduled to appear for his first hearing in the case next Friday, August 18. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office did not respond to an inquiry about the indictment.

CWBChicago first reported the allegations in March.

Exactly what prosecutors are accusing Fair of doing is not yet known. However, a March 3 memo from the chief administrator of Chicago’s police oversight agency, COPA, to then-CPD Supt. David Brown gives some insight into the allegations.

In the memo, COPA chief Andrea Kersten recommended that Brown relieve Fair and four other officers of their police powers while the investigation continued. CWBChicago is not identifying the other three officers by name because they have not been criminally charged with wrongdoing as of this report.

Kersten said COPA began its investigation when a woman complained to a CPD sergeant, alleging that two Chicago police officers seized a firearm from her fanny pack as she waited for a bus with her boyfriend and juvenile children on October 5, 2021.

“Okay, we understand why you have this weapon. We’ll let you go. This never happened,” one of the officers allegedly told the woman. But, the woman claimed, the cop kept her firearm. COPA found video of the stop and squad car GPS data that placed Fair’s squad car at the location at the time of the stop, Kersten wrote.

The woman’s gun was later inventoried by Fair and another officer who claimed they found it while responding to a ShotSpotter alert at a different location.

The Chicago Police Department regularly tweets photographs like these, showing guns that its officers allegedly recovered from the streets. | Twitter

“It would be impossible for the officers to have recovered the firearm in the location and manner stated” in the ShotSpotter report, Kersten’s memo said.

COPA investigated Fair and a different officer for another traffic stop near 525 West 127th Place on June 15, 2021. Citing GPS data and the other officer’s body camera, Kersten said Fair searched the vehicle of a former parolee and a female passenger and found “a large stack of currency and a backpack appearing to contain a large quantity of cannabis.”

The second officer told the former parolee that their in-car computer indicated that he was supposed to be in prison, which surprised the man, Kersten wrote.

At that point, the other officer’s body camera was deactivated, she said.

“No arrest report or other documentation exists for this incident, nor any inventory report for the cannabis or currency,” according to the memo.

But the second officer did complete an inventory report that day, claiming to have recovered a handgun in a different location, but the case number the officer associated with the seized gun is associated with an unrelated theft of welding tools report from the opposite side of the city, said Kersten.

Fair was also being eyed in a third case involving both of the cops who were involved in the earlier incidents.

The FBI contacted Chicago authorities about it in December 2022, but it occurred on July 7, 2021.

Kersten said Fair and the other two officers involved in the earlier allegations were all working together when they stopped to question a man in the middle of a street. Body camera footage shows the man admitted to having a gun in his fanny pack, and he claimed to have a firearm owner’s ID card, but not a concealed carry license, Kersten wrote.

She said Fair is heard on body camera speaking with the other two officers about “F/P,” a term she said is “code for found property.” The officer then turned his body camera off.

Later that night, one of the officers working with Fair inventoried a gun that “appears to be strikingly similar” to the one seized from the man standing in the middle of the street, Kersten wrote.

The officer’s report allegedly claimed they recovered the gun from the yard of an abandoned home after a citizen flagged them down to report it near 105th and State Street.

Kersten’s memo mentioned two other gun seizures that were under investigation, both from July 2021.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com