American Scandal

Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

New episodes come out every Tuesday for free, with 1-week early access for Wondery+ subscribers. Get all episodes - including exclusive seasons - ad-free on Wondery+ or on Amazon Music with a Prime membership or Amazon Music Unlimited subscription.

Encore: The Midnight Crew | Manhunt | 2

Encore: The Midnight Crew | Manhunt | 2

Tue, 17 Jan 2023 08:01

A double murder shocks the city of Chicago. As police work to solve the crime, they launch a campaign that turns violent.

This episode was originally released as a Wondery+ exlusive.

Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App

Support us by supporting our sponsors!

Audible: New members can try Audible free for 30 days. Visit or text AS to 500500.

Sleep Number: Discover special offers now for a limited time at your local Sleep Number® store or

Hello Fresh: Go to and use code scandal21 for 21 free meals plus free shipping!

See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

Listen to Episode

Copyright © © 2018 Wondery, Inc.

Read Episode Transcript

Hey, prime members, you can listen to American Scandal add-free on Amazon music, download the app today. A listener note, this episode depicts racial violence and other graphic material. It may not be suitable for a younger audience. It's February 9, 1982. In a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, a Chevy Impala comes racing down the street. Its wheels screech as it turns a corner and as the car approaches a yellow light, it speeds up, gunning it through the intersection. Inside the car, Andrew Wilson sits in the passenger seat, staring out the window. The south side is Wilson's home. It's a largely black neighborhood full of brick houses and miles of concrete. And while sometimes the area can get a little rough, Wilson knows how to defend himself. He reaches into his coat pocket and feels around for a couple stray bullets. Wilson doesn't have any immediate plans to fire these bullets. But he and his brother are about to pull off a risky scheme and he knows he'd be a fool to come unarmed. Wilson and his brother are heading to the Cook County Hospital. They're looking for one of their accomplices, a man named Edgar Hope. Once they find him, the two brothers are going to help him escape from the hospital unnoticed. While the plan isn't nearly as dangerous as robbing a bank, the Wilson brothers have to pull it off successfully because a few days ago, Hope was in a shootout with the police. He was injured and taken to the hospital to recover. But as soon as he's healed up, he's all but certain to face intense questioning from the police, something the Wilson brothers can't let happen. A month ago, the three men were involved in another crime. They robbed a McDonald's and Wilson ended up killing a security guard. The police still don't know who was responsible for the murder and Wilson needs to make sure they never do. He just got out of prison after serving two and a half years for armed robbery and he's not going to head back. So he and his brother, Jackie, have to do this right. They have to get their accomplice out of the hospital. They have to make sure the cops never get a chance to learn who robbed that McDonald's a month ago. Wilson's brother turns down another road. When suddenly there's the sound of a siren. Wilson looks over his shoulder. Police car has pulled up behind them, lights flashing. Their options are limited. So Wilson's brother pulls over and kills the engine. A minute later, two police officers step out of the squad car. Both of them are white. Wilson and his brother are black. They know the drill though. Things could revolatile and fast. They can have to play cool. Roll down the window. You know why I pulled you over? Andrew Wilson leans forward. Officer, I'm sure this is a mistake. Son, it's no mistake. You open your window and you threw garbage into the street. I'm sorry, sir. We won't do it again. That's right, you won't. Let's see some ID. The two young men exchange a look. Wilson's brother is driving without a license. This is a problem. Somehow Wilson has got to talk his way out of this. Officer, if you just hear us for a minute, Wilson steps out and pass into your door. Now we made a mistake. Hey, far enough. I'm not looking for any trouble. Then get back in the car. Officer, look, it's bad to toss a piece of trash out of the window. It's a mistake. But I'm sure you've got bigger things to worry about. Oh, and I'm sure you don't want to tell a police officer how to do his job. Oh, man, pig. What'd you say? Nothing, sir. Oh, you said something. And, dare you. Say it again. No, sir, forget it. No, what? Hands up. No, no, no, we don't need to do that. I said, hands up. As the officer approaches, Wilson suddenly remembers the bullets in his pocket. There's no way this cop is going to miss them. Wilson realizes that there are two paths out of this situation. Only one of them avoids the inside of a jail cell. So Wilson lunges at the officer, reaching for his pistol. The two come crashing onto the icy ground and begin tussling, each trying to get the upper hand. Wilson looks and notices the officer's gun has slipped from its holster. It's within arms reach. And then his instincts kick in. Wilson grabs the gun and he fires. And he turns to the other officer, staring at shock, fires again. For a moment, Wilson stands completely frozen. His ear is ringing. He can't believe the sight in front of him. Both officers are on the ground, bleeding. Then he snaps to. They have to go. He hops back in the car and yells at his brother to drive. As the car speeds away, Wilson tries to catch his breath and makes sense of what just happened. He might have just killed two police officers. There's no coming back from that. It's only so much time before Chicago police hunt him down and extract their revenge. Hi, I'm Lindsey Graham, host of the Wondering Show Business Movers in our latest series, an intrepid lawyer turned fast food executive named George Cohan creates an ingenious and wily scheme to sell big Macs behind the iron curtain in the middle of the Cold War. Listen to business movers, the McDonald's invasion on Amazon music or wherever you get your podcasts. The British Royal family might be one of the most powerful institutions on earth, but even they have got a weakness, divorce. With Wallace Simpson and Camilla Parker bowls, they may have met their match. And in our new series, Royal Scandal from Wallace to Camilla will tell you all about it. Listen to even the rich on Amazon music or wherever you get your podcasts. From Wondering, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scandal. In the early 1970s, the Chicago police detective John Burge earned a reputation as a man who got results. Burge had worked as a military investigator in the Vietnam War. As a civilian police officer, he impressed his supervisors by making arrests and solving crimes. What underneath the praise and commendations was a terrible secret. Burge was torturing suspected criminals. His goal was to extract confessions. And as an unapologetic racist, he focused his brutality on black residents. Then in 1982, Burge was handed what was perhaps the most important investigation of his career. Two police officers had been gunned down in cold blood. Burge was given the task of solving the crime. Burge would continue to use the same tactics that got him results in the past. In his effort to find the criminals, Burge launched a campaign of terror against the city's black residents. He shattered people's lives and set in motion a series of unexpected events that would change the course of the city's history. This is episode two, Man Hunt. It's February 9, 1982 in downtown Chicago. Inside City Hall, Chicago Mayor Jane Burge steps into her office and aids hands her a stack of briefings. And as Burge heads to a large table, she finds three city officials waiting, looking sweaty and exhausted. Burge takes a seat and tries to absorb the gravity of the moment. Two police officers were just killed during a routine traffic stop. It was a gruesome crime. And the murders were part of a trend that had the city up in arms. In recent months, several officers have been killed in the line of duty. It's caused a firestorm in the media and the public has grown outraged, seeing these murders as part of a crime wave that's devastating the city. Those kind of charges represent a serious threat for Burge. She's facing re-election. And as the first woman to serve as the mayor of Chicago, Burge has to make sure she's not painted as soft on crime. So Burge has to take decisive action. And that's why she called this meeting. Burge summoned the police department's top three officials. They need a plan to catch whoever killed these two police officers. They need to figure out that plan right away. Burge begins the meeting by addressing Richard Brisek, the police department superintendent, Clean Shave and Man with Dark Hair. Burge tells Brisek that the murder of these two officers is an unspeakable tragedy. Citizens are going to be outraged and are bound to see the murders as part of a recent spike in violent crime. So Burge needs to know how the police department is planning to respond. Brisek nods. The superintendent tells the mayor that they're planning to launch a manhunt. It's going to be one of the largest in city history and the police won't rest until the two officers have been avenged. Burge likes what she's hearing. A manhunt will show the city that she has a handle on crime that she's a mayor who prizes law and order. But Burge reminds the superintendent that there's a risk. A large-scale operation will attract a lot of media attention. With that much scrutiny, there's no room for failure. Burge needs to know who the department is tapping to lead the investigation. Brisek pauses and Burge notices the superintendent's shift in his seat, looking slightly uneasy. He then explains he's planning to use a detective named John Burge. He's extraordinarily skilled and the right man for the job. Burge frowns. She's heard things about Burge. Rumors that he could be rough when dealing with suspects. She doesn't know the details. But with so much on the line, they don't have any margin for error. The superintendent says he's not worried. Burge is uncompromising, fearless, and he'll get the job done. Burge looks away for a moment, trying to gauge whether this is a foolish risk. Sensing her hesitation, Brisek assures her that this is a politically savvy move. By tapping Burge for the job, the mayor will send a strong message that she doesn't tolerate crime. Burge says it's a tough choice, but the police superintendent is probably right. As both a Democrat and the first woman to lead Chicago, Burge has to take a strong position on public safety. She tells Brisek to proceed and have John Burge lead the investigation. Soon the meeting wraps up and then three police officials walk out of the mayor's office. Along, once again, Burge pulls open her drawer and grabs a cigarette. When as she smokes, Burge can't help but feel troubled. She knows there's a potential for this manhunt to turn into a rampage, one that could really injure the city's black community. Burge doesn't want to see that happen, both for her residents and for her prospects in the upcoming primary. But at the same time, she can't afford to alienate the police department or risk being seen as soft on crime. Burge takes another long drag from her cigarette. She hopes that John Burge will find the killers and do it quickly to bring this case to a close. At the same time, Burge is praying that she didn't just unleash a monster. Later that afternoon, John Burge makes his way through the Burge's police station in the Southside Chicago. He stops outside a large corner office, pausing to compose himself. The deputy chief just summoned Burge for a meeting. He didn't explain what it was about, but from the deputy chief's tone, Burge can sense its big. Burge steps into the office and finds the deputy chief sitting behind his desk. He's an older man with gray hair and he's got on a pair of khaki suspenders. He's the kind of old school guy Burge has always taken a liking to. Chief, you want to see me? John, come on in and grab a seat. Burge nods and takes a seat in a leather armchair. You know why I called you in? Not entirely, but I've got a guess. I bet you do. Faye no Brian. I need you to find the two bastards that shot them down. We've had a witness saying one was behind the wheel and the other guy pulled the trigger. Is that it? So far? We get a physical description? We did. To young black men. To young black men. Yep. Well Chief, you've got an easy call. Set me loose. I'll get it done. John, I know you will, but... but what Chief? This is the biggest assignment. Lots of eyeballs on this one. If you take it on, I need you to handle it the right way. What's that supposed to mean? I always handle it the right way. I need you to promise you're not going to go overboard. We can't afford headlines. Burge sits up and looks at the deputy chief. Well, sir, with all due respect, you're not out there on the streets. You know, see what we see. This city's a war. You got men getting gunned down and robbed daylight. John, I know. Well, if you understand that this is war, then you also know we can't lose. So if you want to catch these two young black men, you know who can get it done. But if you're more concerned about appearances, maybe find another guy for the job. No, John, you're the man for the job and I understand why. I understand everything. But in this case, you're doing more than just avenging the police department. You're protecting it. You can't do anything that could come back on us. Well, what do you want me to do? Catch those two guys. Be discreet. I can be discreet. Burge stands and leaves the office. As he heads back to his desk, he's hit with an old feeling. The same one he used to get back in South Vietnam. Adrenaline coursing through his veins. His heart pounding. Because just like he said, Burge knows this is war. People are killing police officers. The city feels like it's on the verge of a meltdown. But Burge is not going to let that happen. He's going to be strong and brave and find the killers. He'll do what he has to do. Several days later, a pair of Chicago police officers kick open a door and drag a man into an interrogation room. The officers shove the man into a metal chair and handcuff him to the table. Donald White squints as he looks back and forth at the officers. He would ask what all this is about, but he doesn't have to. For the last few days, Chicago police have been leading an assault on the South side. They claim they're looking for the men responsible for killing those two police officers. But the manhunt has turned into an occupation. The police have been kicking down people's doors without warrants. Screaming racial slurs and slamming residents against the walls of their own homes, all supposedly for the sake of finding suspects. It's been brutal. And as White sits to the table, he knows he has to find some way out of here. He didn't kill anyone. He's not a guilty man. But he's also certain that he's not the first innocent black man who was kidnapped from his home and dragged into this interrogation room. White looks up as a detective emerges from the corner of the room. The man has thin, dark hair. Says his name is Detective Fred Hill and he's got a few words for White. He'll take a seat at the table and announces that White is going to play a key role in this investigation. The police are aware that White is an associate of the suspects. They have reason to believe he knows they're whereabouts, so it's time to start talking. White's throat goes dry. It's true. He's friends with Andrew and Jackie Wilson. The brothers responsible for the two murders. And recently, the brothers have stopped by his apartment a few times. They explained they were on the run and admitted their crimes. White doesn't condone that kind of violence, but he also doesn't want the brothers to get arrested. He lives by a simple rule. Never cooperate with the police if it means black people could get hurt. So White looks up at Detective Hill and shrugs. He lies, saying he doesn't know anything about the murder. Then Leans back in his chair and braces himself. He's certain the officers are about to start beating him, trying to get him to talk. But to his surprise, the officers don't start swinging. Instead, Hill reaches into his pocket and pulls out a plastic bag. Smirking, he says that Commander John Burge is leading this investigation, and they've got approval to take whatever steps are necessary to get answers. Before White can protest, Hill leaps forward and whips the plastic bag over White's head. He tightens it around White's neck. The other officers join in holding the bag tight. White immediately begins to panic. He can't breathe. His vision starts flashing in and out, and right as he's certain he's about to die. Someone pulls the bag off his head. White gulps in large breaths of air, feeling a relief unlike he's ever experienced before. And with another smirk, Detective Hill asks White if he's changed his mind. His chest heaving up and down, White nods, says he's ready. He'll talk. And over the next few minutes, White lays out everything he knows, the names of the two brothers who killed the officers, the basic facts of the murders, and the location where they stashed their guns. And with that, the detective thanks White, and he and the other officers step out of the interrogation room. Left by himself, White stifles a sob. He can't believe he was forced to betray his friends. He's never been so scared in his life. But as terrifying as tonight may have been, White knows that things are only going to be worse for Andrew and Jackie Wilson. Chicago's police are ruthless. They clearly decide the law doesn't apply to them, not when they're avenging one of their own. And White has no doubt that when the police finally arrest the two brothers, the Wilson's are going to experience pain, unlike anything they ever thought possible. American scandal is sponsored by Audible. I was wiping down some glass bookshelves this weekend, which meant removing a lot of books. As I carefully took down each one, summer beaten, disintegrated paperbacks like my sixth grade copy of the Hobbit, I got a little trip down memory lane. Oh, this one was a good one. I wonder if I should reread it. Books are amazing. Like friends, you build up a history with them. But I'm a busy man with things to do, who has the time to read as much as they want. Aha, you can read so much more by listening, and there's no better place for audio entertainment than Audible. Members get full access to a growing selection of all sorts of audio entertainment, like audio originals and podcasts. Plus the Audible app makes it easy to listen anytime, anywhere, while traveling, working out, or even cleaning your bookshelves. Like all Audible members, I get one credit every month, good for any title in the entire premium selection of bestsellers and new releases, regardless of price and to keep forever. I'm looking forward to listening to Myth America, co-edited by one of my favorite historians, Kevin Cruz. Listen with me. New members can get Audible free for 30 days. Visit slash AS, or text AS to 500-500. American scandal is sponsored by sleep number. There's an old saw that if you don't like the weather in Texas, wait 10 minutes. And sure enough, just a week after below freezing temperatures blew in, it's now 70 degrees. Temperature swings like that can keep you up at night, literally. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your bed could adjust its temperature? Sleep number beds already adjust from feather soft to supportive and firm on both sides. But now sleep numbers new climate 360 smart bed is the only smart bed in the world that actively cools and warms too. I know my sleep number, it's 45. Why discover yours? Because to be your best every day, you need proven quality sleep every night. And now save $1,000 on the sleep number 360 special edition smart bed, queen now only 1999, plus special financing for a limited time. Only at sleep number stores or slash AS. That slash AS. Subject to credit approval minimum monthly payments required. Seize sleep for details. It's February 14th, 1982. In a three-story apartment in Chicago, Andrew Wilson opens his eyes. It's pitch black, must be still early in the morning. Wilson groves around in the dark, trying to reorient himself. He feels the lumps in the old couch he must have fallen asleep on. On top of him is a ragged blanket. And sitting on a side table is a clock that reads 5am. Wilson moans and shuts his eyes again. He hasn't been sleeping much lately, not since he shot and killed two police officers on the side of the road. Ever since that day, Wilson has been roving from safe house to safe house, sleeping on one lumpy couch after another. There's a citywide manhunt underway, and Wilson knows he can't afford to sit still. The police are on a warpath, and people say they've been abusing black residents in their hunt for the killer. It's obvious that the Chicago police won't let up until they find their man, so Wilson needs to stay on the run. He turns over on the couch and tries to calm himself down. The days are getting harder, and if he's going to get through this, he needs to catch a little shut eye. Wilson pulls the blanket up to his neck, when suddenly he hears something, sounded like the slam of a car door. Wilson rises from the couch and walks over to the window. He raises the blinds and sees a half dozen police cars right outside the apartment. Wilson's heart starts to pound. He has to move fast, but there's no way out, not without being spotted by the police. Wilson looks across the room and notices one of the residents who lives in the apartment. The woman is awake too, and looks afraid. Without asking permission, she pulls the cord of a ceiling lamp and opens the front door. A group of police suddenly come charging up the stairs with guns drawn. They stop in front of the metal security bars at the apartment, and point at Wilson. Open this up. Wilson looks around the room, but the woman living in the apartment has already hurried back to the bedroom. Open this up. Then a tall and heavy set man with cold blue eyes steps up to the bars. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a thin metal pick, and he begins prying open the door. There you go, boys. Go get him. Wilson backs away, pleading with the officers. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. But two officers rush forward, grab hold of Wilson. The slam is hands against the wall, pinning him so I can't move. Wait, don't you need a warrant? You can't do this. I've got rights. Oh, is that so. Too many shot down. What kind of rights that they have? You can't just break in to someone's home. Andrew Wilson. My name's Commander John Burge. We're here to arrest you. You got any weapons on you? Yeah, there's a pistol in the gym bag over there. You heard him, boys. He's got a weapon. Suddenly, the police been holding Wilson, throw him to the floor. Wilson begins squirming, but the officers hold him tight. Wilson cranes up his neck and sees Burge looming over him. The police commander gives a slight grin. Then he kneels, setting his knee on the back of Wilson's neck, and leans forward with the full weight of his body. Oh, man, man, I can't breathe. I can't breathe. Well, Andrew, I don't know if you're going to go for that gun, so I'm going to be safe. Please, please stop, stop, stop. It's the stop. Wilson feels weak and helpless. The room around him spins, and slowly darkness closes in on him. Right as he shuts his eyes, Burge takes his knee off Wilson's neck. Okay. Andrew Wilson, you're under arrest for the murders of officers William Faye and Richard O'Brien. You're a lawyer. Yeah, I don't think so. Get him in the car. This is an order. Don't let anybody get to him. Don't let nobody talk to him. Treat him right. We'll take care of this when we get him at the station. The police officer's drag Wilson out of the apartment and back outside into the cold. As they shove him into a squad car, one of the officers spits a slur. Wilson's been called that name before. Plenty of times. But sitting in the back seat right now, he's terrified. He thought he was about to die up in that apartment, like his head was going to pop off his neck. But as bad as that was, Wilson knows it might only be the start. And that everything is about to get much worse. Three hours later, Andrew Wilson wipes his face and looks up from the floor of the interrogation room. His body is screaming in pain, and his blood has pooled on the cold, concrete floor. He's barely conscious, but Wilson has no illusion about the situation he's found himself in. He's lying flat in a police station, surrounded by furious police officers. They've been punching and kicking and stomping and yelling and hurling racial slurs. Wilson knows what they're after, and it's not just revenge. They want a confession. They want Wilson to admit that he killed those two cops. But Wilson refuses to confess. He's not going to hand over the evidence they need in order to send him to prison for the rest of his life. And while the beating is bad, Wilson knows he just has to wait this out until the police get tired and give up. But then the door to the interrogation room opens, and John Birg enters the room. He's been gone the entire time, but now he's back wanting to know if Wilson has confessed. One of the officers says, no, Wilson won't say a word. Birg grimaces. He stares down at Wilson and gets a look of irritation. He points out that the officers have hit Wilson in the face. He told them not to do that. They can't leave any marks. One of the officers apologizes, but Birg shakes his head and says he's going to show them how it's really done. He steps back out of the room. And in a couple of minutes later he returns, carrying a black bag. Birg turns to an officer and tells him to get Wilson ready. The officer nods and lists Wilson from the ground and shoves him into a chair. Birg takes a seat, and with his voice calm, he tells Wilson that it's time to confess. He has to admit that he killed those two officers. Wilson shakes his head. He won't do it. He knows he did a terrible thing, and that he's led a life of crime. But there are rules. And one of the rules is that the police can't torture you. So Wilson repeats himself. He won't confess. And Birg just sighs. Without saying another word he reaches into his bag and pulls out a black box. On top of the box is a crank. And then Birg reaches into the box and pulls out two red wires with metallic clamps. Then he moves toward Wilson and says he had his chance. Now it's time to suffer the consequences. Five minutes later Wilson sits crying in the chair and shocked. He's never felt that kind of pain. An agony beyond understanding. His body is bruised, bloody and burnt. Wilson stifles a sob and wipes his eye. And when he looks up he finds John Birg leaning forward looking impatient. Birg asks again if Wilson will sign a confession. And this time Wilson nods. He'll do anything. He'll say anything. As long as he never has to experience that kind of pain again. Later that night, Andrew Wilson steps into a hospital on the south side of Chicago. Next to him are a pair of gruff looking police officers. And as the group enters an elevator, the officers lean in toward Wilson. Their hands resting on their nightsticks. Wilson's eyes dart left and right. He doesn't know why they're still doing this, why the officers are still threatening him. All day the police have been systematically breaking him down. They've beaten him, pistol whipped him, the officers burn Wilson's skin on a radiator, all the while taunting him. And then worse than any of it, they electrocuted him. It was a pain so agonizing, so unbearable, Wilson finally broke and confessed his crime. Now as he stands in the elevator, on a way to see a doctor, Wilson gets an overwhelming feeling of relief. All day he's been tortured. He's been bleeding terribly, and without treatment he could die. But Wilson barely considers that. He just knows he's on his way to someone who doesn't have a police badge. The elevator doors open, and Wilson and the officers step out into the hospital ward. They begin making their way to the intake station. But as they approach a nurse, one of the officers grabs Wilson by the arm and stops him. Bringing his voice to a whisper. The officer says that in just a minute the doctor is going to look at Wilson. He's going to ask if Wilson wants to be treated for his injuries. But if Wilson knows what's good for him, he'll refuse medical treatment. Wilson stares in horror at the officer. But the man is snarling. He says there's no way he's spending the night in some cushy hospital. He's going to jail. But the jail won't accept him, not without a note from the doctor. So to get that note, Wilson has to refuse treatment. Wilson can't believe it. They want him to turn down medical care. The torture is never going to end. But at this point, Wilson doesn't have an ounce of fight left in him. He's broken. So Wilson just nods. Soon the group enters an examination room and Wilson meets the doctor. He's a short man with glasses and doesn't seem to express too much emotion. He tells Wilson to take off his clothes and as painful as every movement feels, Wilson manages to undress. But once the shirt is off, the doctor steps back and gasps. Wilson's body is covered with burns and cuts and bruises, it's an ugly sight. The doctor clears his throat and with a look at concern, he asks if Wilson would like to receive treatment for his injuries. Wilson glances at the policeman. Their expressions remain frozen and inscrutable. And although he wants more than anything to stay in the hospital, to be taken care of, Wilson can't risk any more payback. So Wilson tells the doctor that no, he won't require medical treatment. The doctor asks if Wilson is sure. Wilson nods, saying he is. He'll be fine. The doctor sighs and scribbles a short note. And soon the officers lead Wilson out of the hospital and back to the police car. As Wilson sits in the back seat, another salty tear comes leaking out of his eye. Streams down his bruised cheekbone and comes to rest on a cracked and bloody lower lip. Wilson has always thought of himself as a tough man. But now, he feels completely defeated. He knows it was wrong to kill those cops. But what John Birg and his men did today wasn't right either. Wilson kills those cops in a moment of panic. But John Birg knew what he was doing. Wilson is all but certain he's not the first black man to have been tortured by the Chicago police. And although he's broken and knows he's going to spend the rest of his life in prison, Wilson can't let go of that terrible fact. Wilson knows the world will always see him as a monster. But maybe there's a shot at redemption. Maybe Andrew Wilson can help stop John Birg. American scandals sponsored by America's number one meal delivery kit, Hello Fresh. I'm in a pretty good mood today and I know why. I exercise this morning. I've been cooking and eating well at home. Even if it seems like hard work, cooking at home can be easy. The key is to remove barriers. And a great way to do that is to get fresh, pre-measured ingredients and seasonal recipes delivered right to my door with Hello Fresh. Hello Fresh recipes are easy to follow and quick to make and affordable cheaper than grocery shopping and 25% cheaper than takeout. There's low calorie, vegetarian, family friendly recipes and more. Switch it up whenever you like. I enjoy the bold world flavors like Korean beef bippin-bop, new ingredients and techniques that broaden your palate and make you a better cook. Go to slash scandal 21 and use code scandal 21 for 21 free meals plus free shipping. That's 21 free meals plus free shipping at slash scandal 21 offer code scandal 21. It's February 1982 in Chicago. Richard Brisek runs a hands-raised dark hair, a mudder's a curse. He clutches a letter in his hand, pacing around his office in a fury. Brisek is the superintendent of the Chicago police and the letter contains an accusation that could destroy the entire department. It contains allegations that the police tortured and brutalized a criminal suspect that officers of the law tried to cover it up and that these accusations surround one of the most politically sensitive crimes and recent memory. All this could lead to a public firestorm and Brisek could even lose his job if the situation isn't handled right. So Brisek summoned a group of city officials for a meeting. They have to get to the bottom of the situation and find a way to handle what could erupt into a scandal. There's an ock on the door and four men step into the office. They include two deputy superintendents and a commander from the Burnside Police Station where the torture supposedly took place. Brisek tells them then to close the door. Nothing they say can leave the room. Men nod, shut the door, and sit down. Brisek tells them about the shocking letter he just received. It was written by a doctor who worked at the Cook County Jail. Apparently he just examined Andrew Wilson, the man accused of killing two police officers during a traffic stop. The doctor found injuries all over Wilson's body. Some of them were just beyond belief. And when the doctor asked what happened, Wilson laid out a series of shocking allegations. According to Wilson, the police officers electrocuted him. They delivered electric current to his ears, gums, lips, and genitals. Wilson also said the officers beat him and that they pressed his body against the pipes of a scorching radiator causing serious burns. Brisek pauses to let his words sink in. He knows that sometimes police officers can get a little rough, but this, this kind of torture, electrocution is something else entirely. Brisek stares at the men, asking if they have any response. They remain silent. And that silence all but confirms Brisek's worst fear. The allegations are true, and the department is looking the other way. Brisek is unsure what to say. And then Milton D's, the commander from the Burnside Police Station, speaks up. He says that these allegations might be true, but then he also says it might not be prudent for Brisek to take any action. D's reminds the room that if there are any merits to the claims, they'd completely invalidate Wilson's confession. The man murdered two police officers. But if he was tortured into giving a confession, he'd be released. They'd have nothing to show for the biggest manhunt in Chicago's history. Is that what they want? Brisek shakes his hand, of course it's not what he wants. It would be an embarrassment to the entire force, and for their bosses at City Hall. D's nods and says the best course of action is simple. Brisek should just forget this letter exists and move on to other more pressing matters. Brisek's size. That might be the easy thing to do, but it's unethical. You could even be illegal, but on the other hand, D's is right. A notorious murderer would end up walking free. He would be a disaster in every way. The dilemma feels impossible, and Brisek isn't ready to commit to any course of action just yet. So he thanks the four men for coming and tell them they can leave. After his deputies file out, Brisek takes a seat behind his desk and loosens his tie. He's always considered himself a decent human being. There's nothing about him that believes torture is acceptable. But sometimes moral choices aren't simple. Sometimes you have to do what's prudent, even if it feels wrong. Brisek picks up the letter and stares at it for a moment. Then it hits him. Maybe he's not stuck between a rock and a hard place. Brisek could always launch a token investigation. It would placate the doctor, and Brisek could even forward the doctor's letter to a state's attorney, someone whose job is to prosecute crimes. Doing that would shift the responsibility and put the decision in the hands of someone else. And that someone else would probably do the same thing Brisek is considering. After all, state prosecutors don't want murderers back on the street either. They'd probably just look the other way too. So Brisek grins. He's got a plan. He and the city are going to be okay. At the end of the day, a murderer, a man who killed two police officers, is still going to spend the rest of his life where he belongs in prison. Later that month, journalist Russell Meek opens the door to an office in Chicago. He steps inside a quiet, carpeted room, and just like he does every morning, Meek pauses for a moment to take in the photos and posters on the wall. A who's who of the most important black Americans from across the country's history? And Meek himself is proud to play a role in that American history. He works as a columnist for the Chicago defender, one of the oldest black newspapers in the country. It launched in 1905 and ever since then, has run countless stories and columns about life for black Americans, never shying away from the most important issues. And as Meek grabs a cup of coffee and sits down at his desk, he feels energized. The police have been on a rampage in black communities and they've been turning people's lives upside down. Something has to change and Meek knows that while he's not the mayor or a superintendent of police, he does have power. People read what he publishes and he can influence them to take action. So today, Meek is going to write about injustice, police abuse, and the need for black residents to rise up and bring about real change. Meek is typing away on his keyboard, completely absorbed in writing. He barely notices when his editor comes in and stands over his shoulder. Morning, Russ. Uh-huh. Got a new piece. Uh-huh. I could say just about anything and you would say, uh-huh, right? Uh-huh. Well, let's see what you're writing. What do you got here? We need to fight back against the mayor of Chicago and the police, arm ourselves against police brutality, police killings of blacks. Russ, stop. What? What is it? I'm on a roll. You're always on a roll and you'll get back to it. But what you're writing is, uh, pretty radical even for you. Well, the times we find ourselves in call for radical action. But you're telling our people to walk around with guns. Yeah. Chicago Police Department is completely out of control. I know you've heard the same stories I have, pulling people off the street, no reason dragging them into a station. People getting beaten. Yeah, I've heard that, but there's a limit to what we can publish, don't you think? Oh, yeah, since when? I'm sure you've heard of Freedom of the Press, the First Amendment, right? I don't need a lecture. We're on the same team, but we've got to be responsible. Meek scoots back from his desk and looks up. Listen, you want to talk about responsibility? I think it's irresponsible not to tell people to carry a gun. This police brutality has gone on for too long. We've got the right to stand up for ourselves. Hey, Russ, it's not about the rights about making real change. The police department and the city government. They've been racist ever since Chicago was founded. Telling black people to go out and kill white people is only going to make things worse. I'm not saying to go out and kill white people. You see what I'm saying? If white cops shoot at you, you should shoot back. The mayor has to reform this city's criminal justice system. That's going in the article. It's reason enough to let me run the column. Russ, the mayor is never going to read your column. Well, maybe not. But she's going to feel the anger from our community. She's going to feel a pressure. What does that do? What do you get with anger and pressure? Well, I think you get action. Burns is going to have to get rid of those cops, throwing people against the walls, beating them, and telling you something's building right now. There's an ugly energy in this city. But we can harness it. We can channel it. We can put it to good use. But I don't think we can do it if we play nice. Not if we stay quiet. Meeks edit our scratches his head. And for a moment, he looks off in the distance. Okay, Russ. Okay. We'll run the column. But just don't get us in trouble. Ah, wouldn't dream of it. Meek returns to his typewriter and continues pounding out of column. He catalogs a long list of black residents who were killed by the police, everyone from teenage boys to Fred Hampton, the famous leader of the black panthers. It's one tragedy after another, a history of police abuse, racism, and terror among Chicago's black community. As Meek continues writing his column, he feels even more energized and driven. Because once his column starts spreading among the community, people will mobilize. They'll start calling for change. And unless the mayor wants to ignore a powerful block of voters, she'll be forced to take action. You put an end to this reign of police terror. From Wondery, this is episode two of the Midnight Crew from American Scandal. In our next episode, civil rights activists go head to head with John Burge. But as the fight heats up, the activists learn that Burge is protected by a powerful system. Hey, prime members, you can listen to American Scandal ad-free on Amazon Music, download the Amazon Music Cap today, or you can listen ad-free with Wondery Plus and Apple Podcasts. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at slash survey. If you'd like to learn more about John Burge and the Midnight Crew, we recommend the book Beyond the Usual Beating by Andrew S. Bayer. This episode contains re-enactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited, and executed produced by Meek, Lindsay Graham for Airship, audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barrett, music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Hannibal DS, edited by Christina Mallsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven, executive producers, our Stephanie Jenns, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and Marsha Louis for Wondery.