A Chicago police officer is being hit
with seven lawsuits that allege he targeted gay men and lesbians for
false arrests, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Leaders of the Gay Liberation Network,
a group that advocates for gay rights, said four more lawsuits were
being added to three already filed in February.
The suits allege police Officer Richard
Fiorito targeted gay and lesbian drivers for arrest. Fiorito is
accused of arresting drivers for DUI when they were not intoxicated.
One of the suits filed in February,
also accuses Fiorito of excessive force. Shawn Rauch says Fiorito
grabbed him by the throat in the police station, shoved him against a
wall and called him a gay slur.
The arrests took place in the
gay-friendly neighborhood known as Boystown on the city's north side.
“This guy was operating in the heart
of the gay entertainment district for years acting on his anti-gay
animus and no one in an official [capacity] was calling him out on
it,” Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, said
during a press conference to discuss the suits.
In a statement, attorney Jon Erickson
said Fiorito is among the state's highest writers of DUI tickets and
was honored last year by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Thayer added
that his cases are “routinely” thrown out in court. And blamed
the city and police department with failing to stop the abuses.