Mike Garner Case Deserve Better
IPSN August 28, 1997
Certainly, every police officer who has worked vice, narcotics or undercover can
sympathize with the circumstances involved in the murder of Police Officer Michael Garner
and the subsequent plight of his family.
Sgt. Garner, 48, was shot to death on July 12 in West Englewood in Chicago in an
altercation with an alleged drug dealer.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.
The Chicago Police Department hierarchy and the citys politicos have made a strong
case explaining why the sergeant should not receive benefits due officers killed in the
line of duty, although he is receiving all other benefits that he has earned.
This is a complicated case but it deserves careful consideration and review.
It is somewhat surprising, though, that the one attorney who has decided to champion the
executed police officers case is a man who himself is a symbol of the racial strife
that nearly destroyed Chicago in the 1980s, and who is reputedly associated with some of
the very people most Chicago police officers might only want to meet while on duty and
with guns drawn.
Nonetheless, Edward R. Vrdolyak represents the Garner family, obviously torn by grief over
the loss of this until now decorated and respected police officer.
And, one day after he was identified as the Garner family lawyer, Vrdolyak began in his
usual style of ambulance chasing rhetorical legal verbiage. Eddie knows well how to make
The Chicago Police Department has been hesitant to provide all the details involved in the
Garner slaying, frankly because some of the circumstances have raised eyebrows but
the fact is the officer is dead and cannot defend his actions.
Garner was sitting in a car allegedly drinking with another woman (according to police
brass) in front of a bar at 6915 S. Western Ave., when a man drove up next to them and
tried to sell them drugs. The woman had met Garner for drinks at the lounge, and had gone
with him to his car.
Instead of arresting the drug dealer immediately, he drove off with the woman, and
returned to the very same spot several minutes later.
The alleged drug dealer drove up to the car again, and this time demanded to know who
Garner was. Garner and the man each stepped out of their cars and started to wrestle. Guns
discharged and Garner was killed.
Was he undercover or not is besides the point. Undercover cops just dont simply
punch in and punch out, coming and going from undercover work. It is a lifestyle and
requires 24 hour-a-day vigilance with the subjects and environment where they work. They
live with the dredges they deal with on an ongoing basis.
Whether or not Garner was engaged in an interview or simply establishing a contact is
something that should be taken into consideration. Although the Chicago Police Department
has said his actions were outside of his normal duties, and he would have been brought up
for charges had he lived. Michael Garner is not around to refute the administrations
Knowing the tough circumstances that undercover cops faces, we should always give them the
benefit of the doubt in circumstances like this. An undercover cop lost his life.
Obviously, his family deserves to have questions answered regarding the issue of receiving
death in the line of duty benefits, which have been denied him.
But hiring Fast Eddie Vrdolyak? This might not be the best choice.
Associating with the likes of Vrdolyak certainly doesnt help the Garner case.
But it does help Vrdolyak, whose image is scarred by controversy, sleazoid killers and
The Garner family has benefits coming and deserve the best representation they can get.
Obviously their judgement is impaired under the trying circumstances of their loss. But
Vrdolyaks involvement sends out the wrong signal on this case. He is moving for what
is best for Fast Eddie. We support the Garner family. We sympathize with their
position. They should get all benefits period.
Vrdolyak is no friend of the Chicago street cop.
Of course, one might have thought that the Fraternal Order of Police would step up to the
plate and help. But they have been silent on this. Or, were they the ones who recommended
Vrdolyaks associations, his political record of exploiting racism and racial
divisions in his election campaigns over the years, his ties to mobbed up Cicero, and his
refusal to answer questions about his ties to outfit people and organized crime figures
like the late Joe Ferriola leave much to be desired.
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