CHICAGO – When then-Commander of Area 2 Detectives Rodney Blisset told Isaac Lambert that Lambert was losing his job as a detective sergeant and sent to work on patrol, he could not give Lambert a reason for demotion.
More than a year later, when a city attorney suggested that Blisset’s boss wanted Lambert transferred because he was a problem agent, Blisset was outraged, the retired commander testified Tuesday to Lambert’s whistleblower trial.
Lambert sued the city and the Chicago Police Departmentclaiming he was fired from his detective job because he balked when supervisors tried to get him to change reports about a fellow officer 2017 off-duty shooting of an unarmed teenager.
In the stands Tuesday, Blisset recalled a 2019 conversation with city attorneys after Lambert filed his lawsuit, when Blisset was asked multiple times about Lambert. The lawyers said Blisset’s boss, former CPD chief detective Melissa Staples, had told them Blisset had complained about Lambert.
“I said, ‘The boss is a goddamn liar,'” Blisset said. “I’ve never had a conversation with the boss about Ike’s performance or anything,” Blisset said, taking a long pause.
“I said, ‘You all need to get that shit up before we go to court, because I’m not lying for anyone.'”
The second week of testimony on the Lambert case opened on Tuesday. The veteran detective was supervising the detectives the night Sgt. Khalid Muhammad shot Ricardo Hayes in the early morning hours of August 13, 2017, after Muhammad saw the teenager, who has autism, run and jump along a sidewalk in the Morgan park Neighborhood.
Muhammad fired from inside his SUV after calling the teenager, telling investigators he thought Hayes was reaching for a weapon. Hayes was unarmed, but Lambert said his supervisors pressured him to list Muhammad as a victim of an aggravated assault in the reports. Muhammad was suspended for six months, and the city later paid $2.25 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of the teenager.
Lambert was “dumped,” Blisset said, using a term used within the CPD to describe when an officer clashes with a superior and is subsequently transferred to a less desirable job within the department. Being sent from the detective division to patrol would “put a stain” on an officer’s career, even if it wouldn’t change one’s rank or pay, Blisset said.