Perjury charges filed against 4 police officers after dramatic 'Perry Mason'-type reveal at hearing

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Four police officers in Chicago and an upscale suburb face felony perjury charges following a dramatic reveal during an evidence-suppression hearing last year.

One of the defendants, Chicago police officer William Pruente, had testified that he pulled Joseph Sperling over in Glenview in 2013 for failing to signal a turn. Then, Pruente said, he ordered Sperling out of the car after smelling marijuana as he waited for the 23-year-old restaurant worker to hand over his driver’s license and proof of insurance. Nearly a pound of marijuana found in a backpack in Sperling’s vehicle resulted in the drug case and evidence-suppression hearing at which Pruente and his fellow cops were testifying.

The other three defendants, Chicago police Sgt. James Padar, Chicago police officer Vince Morgan and Glenview police officer James Horn backed Pruente’s testimony, reports the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.).

However, apparently unbeknownst to the defendants, a camera on the dashboard of a Glenview sergeant who was also at the scene had been rolling. Subpoenaed by defense lawyer Steven Goldman and played at last year’s hearing, it showed that Pruente had walked up to Sperling’s vehicle, reached through the open window to unlock the door and had Sperling step out of the vehicle. The search occurred only after Sperling was frisked and handcuffed, the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.) reported at the time.

The Chicago police defendants all worked on narcotics cases and had been following Sperling before the traffic stop, seeking help from Glenview police when Sperling was pulled over. The dramatic conflict between their account and what the dashcam showed led to suppression of the evidence against Sperling and dismissal of his drug case. The Tribune was the first to make the comparison between Goldman’s dramatic reveal and the fictional lawyer, calling it “a ‘Perry Mason’ moment rarely seen inside an actual courtroom.” For the officers, the result was desk duty and now the perjury charges. The four are scheduled for a bond court hearing on Monday.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Rare ‘Perry Mason’ moment in court wins dismissal for defendant, desk duty for 5 police officers”

ABAJournal.com: “Man whose case was dismissed after ‘Perry Mason’ moment in court sues 5 police officers over arrest”

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