William Isaac is not a lucky man.
Five years ago he was acquitted on felony drug charges. The court agreed to expunge the records, but somehow bureaucratic ineptitude couldn't keep them from popping up on background checks ["Broken Record
," January 7, 2004].
Then in 2005, he finished his shift driving an ice-cream truck just in time to witness a man robbing his boss at gunpoint. He testified against Reuben Rankin, who got eight years. But Rankin wanted revenge.
So last May he had a friend plant crack in Isaac's ice-cream truck. Rankin's mother then tipped off police. And the officer first to the scene? Daniel Jopek, who just a few years earlier had killed an unarmed suspect — and then beat the rap ["Loose Cannon
," September 8, 2004].
At gunpoint, Jopek ordered Isaac out of the truck. He tucked him into his cruiser, found the crack and then, fumbling with a cell phone, he got an idea. "Should I do it?" Jopek asked his partner, Hanz Turner. "Should I call Channel 19?"
"No," said Isaac. "Don't do that."
Jopek ignored him. He made the call and waited for the TV crews to arrive. Isaac says it was nearly three hours before the cameras had their fill.
He was acquitted again in August, after police dispatchers recovered a tip from hours before his arrest claiming someone had planted the drugs. Rankin got an extra five years and his mother got two.
But a clean record is all Isaac should expect. The complaint he filed about Jopek with the Office of Professional Standards is collecting dust and no lawyer thinks he has a case.
He's still suing the city — but in small-claims court. He's been told already to expect nothing. "They can do certain things and not be held accountable," he says. — Jason Nedley