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Chicago cop pleads not guilty to charges he lied about gun arrest

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An embattled Chicago cop pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he lied about the circumstances of a gun case to stymie the suspect’s defense. 

Officer Daniel Fair, 34, from the West Pullman neighborhood, faces felony counts of official misconduct and obstruction of justice stemming from the arrest of Rodney Westerfield in the summer of 2020. 

Fair and three other Calumet District officers have already been stripped of their police powers amid a separate investigation into allegations they took guns off the street and lied about where they came from. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is leading both probes, has also raised questions about whether the officers took guns, drugs and cash without turning in the evidence. 

At Fair’s arraignment on Tuesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki said he and his partners stopped Westerfield while he was walking in the 11800 block of South Stewart Avenue on Aug. 8, 2020. 

Fair wrote in an arrest report that Westerfield swung a satchel to the front of his body when the officers approached, Janicki said. Fair claimed his partner then found a Ruger MK III handgun in Westerfield’s pants before he recovered a Taurus G2c handgun and a box of ammunition in the satchel. 

But body-worn camera footage showed that Westerfield never adjusted the satchel and that Fair actually grabbed the Taurus from his “closed bag,” which had been taken before the other gun was found, Janicki said. 

Fair offered a different story at a preliminary hearing later that month, according to Janicki. He claimed Westerfield fled from the stop, leading to a chase that resulted in Fair taking Westerfield into custody and finding “a hard metal object” that fell to the ground.

Fair testified that he then recovered a Ruger MK3, the same type of gun he said his partner had found, Janicki said. But body-worn camera footage showed the partner pushed the Ruger out of Westerfield’s pants, and it was only discovered after Westerfield had been handcuffed and Fair had found the other gun. 

Janicki said a review of the evidence shows Fair knew he was providing bogus accounts of the arrest and did so to obstruct Westerfield’s defense. “The false information would tend to defeat a motion based on Fourth Amendment violations to suppress the gun with which [Westerfield] was charged,” Janicki noted. 

On Aug. 20, 2021, over a year after the arrest, Westerfield filed a motion to quash the arrest and suppress evidence that was “unlawfully seized,” court records show. 

The motion named a second officer who was also relieved of his police powers in connection to the COPA investigation targeting Fair and two other officers from the Calumet District. They have all been placed on a list that effectively bars them from testifying in court. 

Westerfield ultimately pleaded guilty that November to a felony count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. He was sentenced to a year in prison, much of which he had served in the Cook County Jail while awaiting trial.

A hearing in the gun case was scheduled for Wednesday, when a prosecutor intends to file a motion related to a “post plea issue.” Westerfield’s attorney, Quentin L. Banks, didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Fair’s attorney, Tim Grace, said his client served as a U.S. Army specialist during Operation Enduring Freedom and earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from Purdue University. He has been a member of the police department since 2017 and is married with a 4-year-old child, Grace added.

“We think the facts are interesting in this case,” Grace told the Sun-Times. “We think this is more of a case where the officer’s testimony should have been a little tighter, but we look forward to trying the case.”

Grace urged Judge Ursula Walowski to allow Fair to hold onto his firearm owners identification card while the case proceeds, noting he couldn’t earn a paycheck if that happened. 

Walowski granted the request and released Fair on a $10,000 recognizance bond. He was fingerprinted and photographed following the hearing. 

His next court date was set for Oct. 10. 



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