NATO 3 Trial, Day 4

Undercover Chikko Finishes Testimony, CPD Officer Bacius Reveals GPS Tracking of Church’s Car

On Friday, January 24, undercover Chicago cop Nadia Chikko, aka “Gloves,” resumed her testimony under cross-examination by the defense attorneys. The previous afternoon, she had been admonished to review the recordings from the case and ensure she was able to answer the questions asked of her. Early on today, she was admonished once again to answer the questions asked, not the ones she wanted to answer. At one point, she told one of the defense attorneys that she knew “what he was getting at” with his questions as she was trying to provide the information she wanted to say on the record. The attorney’s question about what she thought he was getting at was not permitted, however, and the cross-examination moved on.

Through cross-examination, Chikko revealed that a GPS tracking device had been attached to Brian Jacob Church’s car during the investigation. She provided few other clear, concrete answers to questions, however. Through persistent defense questioning, she ultimately admitted that she had offered Church half of her beer on May 16, 2012 (hours before the defendants were arrested) and that she knew that Church was only 20 years old at the time. This admission came after she asserted that she and her partner Mehmet Uygun (aka “Mo” or “Turk”) never provided the defendants with alcohol or drugs.

Chikko also testified that she had never seen any of the defendants under the influence and that her undercover work in the 18th District of Chicago had made her highly experienced in identifying when people are intoxicated. Defense attorneys asked her about a recording in which Uygun asked Church if he was stoned and Church said he was. Jared Chase also said they were both a little drunk as well. Later on in the conversation, after Church apologized to the undercovers for bringing them out to a park late at night when nothing was accomplished, Uygun told him to write out a list of what he needed to do to create a plan for direct actions “before hitting the bowl in the morning.” Chikko testified that she believed Uygun was referring to going to the bathroom for “Number 2,” not smoking marijuana.

Much of the defense attorneys’ questions were aimed at exposing the holes in Chikko’s testimony and the ways she had acted as an infiltrator during the case. Through cross-examination, it was revealed that the Chicago Police Department defines an undercover officer in First Amendment investigations (i.e., operations that may touch on constitutionally protected activity) as one who attends meetings and other events to gather information but does not join the group or influence its members. In contrast, an infiltrator is defined as a police officer who attends meetings and other events, joins a group or groups, and influences members of the group as well as the group as a whole.

The recordings submitted into evidence by the prosecution clearly show Chikko and Uygun consistently telling the defendants (primarily Church and Chase) what to do, pushing them to commit to tasks, and bringing up the topics of explosives when none of the defendants were talking about them. Despite Chikko’s repeated assertions that neither she nor her partner directed the flow of conversations, suggested ideas for actions or targets, or otherwise influenced the defendants, she had to admit that Uygun had said early in May that he would create Molotovs and that she did not recall any of the defendants talking about Molotovs on May 16 until Uygun brought up the idea.

She also admitted that she had pulled beer bottles down off a shelf for the purpose of making Molotovs. The recordings further reveal that Uygun had said that he had $2 to pay for gas and that he had told the other defendants and Chikko that he and Chase were going to go get gas so everyone else should stay at the apartment. However, Chikko testified that Uygun had not bought the gas and that him saying that he had money for gas was just part of “flowing with the conversation.” She also testified that Uygun had torn a strip of bandanna to be used for the Molotovs.

Questioning of Chikko today also revealed that, after the Molotovs had been created, Church and Brent Betterly left the house and drove to Indiana (i.e., crossed state lines) to pick up one of Betterly’s friends. During that time, the undercovers went with Chase to buy more beer. Later in the evening, after all the defendants had returned, the search warrant that Uygun had called in was approved. The raid took place while Chase and Church were in the apartment, whereas Betterly had returned from Indiana and then left the apartment to go buy cigarettes. Through cross-examination, Chikko admitted that Betterly had not been present during the vast majority of her undercover work and that she had never asked him if he had any plans for the Molotovs.

Chikko also testified about some of her assignments in March and April 2012, in which she was sent to various cafes, coffee shops, and punk or rock shows to investigate “violent anarchists” and other people who wanted to infiltrate peaceful protesters to get them to commit criminal acts. One assignment was to go to Heartland Cafe, a popular cafe in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, to see if anyone was talking about dangerous criminal activity over their meals. She was also assigned to surveil an activist who was a self-proclaimed anarchist.

Notably, Chikko admitted that a quote that has been attributed to Church and used consistently in the state’s media engagements and court documents was based on her memory alone since that conversation was not recorded. Church is alleged to have said, “the city doesn’t know what it’s in for” and “after NATO, the city will never be the same.” Both the prosecution in its opening statement and Chikko during her testimony repeated this alleged quote verbatim.

After Chikko’s testimony ended, CPD officer Russell Bacius took the stand to talk about his role in the investigation. He is assigned to the Counter Intelligence Unit and has worked on several high-profile security situations, including both the NATO summit and the investigation of the NATO 3. He testified that he had been part of a surveillance team assigned to install a GPS tracker on Church’s car. He had tested and installed the tracking device, which was in a weatherproof container and secured to the car with magnets. He installed the device on the undercarriage of the car near the rear wheel in about 15 seconds. This device then sent periodic GPS information to a CPD computer.

Prosecutors displayed a large map of the car’s approximate movements on May 11, 2012. The GPS information from the tracking device showed the cars general movements but not the exact route. Bacius testified that he believed that the data from this day showed the defendants driving around downtown Chicago to find targets for their criminal attacks. He believed that these targets included the Federal Reserve Bank and Obama’s campaign headquarters. The campaign headquarters had a “geofence,” a perimeter of two or three blocks around it that monitored when tracking devices such as the one on Church’s car entered the area, and the GPS tracker recorded at least one instance of the car coming within the geofence perimeter.

Bacius admitted, however, that he did not know how long the car had been in this geofence perimeter. He also admitted that he knew that Occupy Chicago had been camped out around the Federal Reserve on May 11, 2012. However, he said he did not believe that the car’s movements around this area of downtown could have been to find free parking. Through cross-examination, he was also forced to admit that the tracking device does not show who was in the car at specific times or why the car was in motion.

The CPD officers’ testimony came across as mostly lacking in credibility and intelligence. The weak performance in the prosecution’s case-in-chief so far should bring hope to every activist, as the NATO 3 are fighting these politically motivated charges and the state is quickly losing control over the narrative it had created about this case. Hope cannot bring our comrades home, however, so we must all keep standing in solidarity with the NATO 3 and helping them fight for their freedom!

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