"Whoop Ass" Cops Walk in Bar Beating Case
by RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter
Prosecutors said the officers were at fault for starting the fight and
probably thought they’d never get caught. “Why did they do it? Because
they felt like it, judge. That's why,” Assistant State's Attorney
Lauren Freeman said.
The judge, Thomas Gainer Jr., was a prosecuter prior to his election as
judge in 2001, and is related to Terry Gainer, a top cop from Chicago,
late of Washington, DC.
April 28, 2009
A Cook County judge acquitted three Chicago police officers this
afternoon in the notorious 2006 Jefferson Tap & Grille bar brawl.
Judge Thomas Gainer Jr. cleared officers Paul Powers, 27, and Gregory
Barnes, 41, and Sgt. Jeffery Planey, 35, of aggravated battery charges.
Announcing the verdict, Gainer said he repeatedly reviewed video and audiotapes from the fateful night.
“After doing all of that, I have come to the conclusion that the state
has failed to meet its burden of proof on any of the charges,” the
judge said. “I find Planey, Powers and Barnes not guilty.”
A spectator began to clap, but Gainer cut him off.
“Don’t do it,” he said. “Don’t.”
The officers’ supporters waited until Gainer left the stand to give a round of applause.
Prosecutors declined comment.
Gainer, presiding over the bench trial, heard closing arguments earlier this month and set today for his verdicts.
The officers were accused of roughing up Barry Gilfand and his brother
Aaron Gilfand because the Gilfands and two friends allegedly made fun
of Powers for crying as he reminisced over his deceased father.
But Barry Gilfand testified that the fight started without provocation
after someone took his pool cue and defiantly stated, “game over.”
Prosecutors said Planey took Barry Gilfand’s cell phone when he tried
to call 911outside the bar and then waved off uniformed officers who
Not only did Planey grab Barry Gilfand by the neck, but both Planey and
Powers thrashed him off camera, prosecutors said. Barry Gilfand
testified he was shielding himself with his jacket when two men hit
him, but that he believed Powers was one of his attackers because
Powers had walked over to him with Planey moments before.
Gregory Barnes was accused of punching and breaking Aaron Gilfand’s nose in the vestibule of the bar at 325 N. Jefferson.
Throughout the bench trial, the officers’ lawyers described the
Gilfands and the others as opportunistic and “greedy,” referring to a
pending civil lawsuit.
During closing arguments, defense attorneys called the men “loudmouth drunks” who deserve blame in sparking the fight.
Barry and Aaron Gilfand have zero credibility, the defense attorneys
said, and their identifications of who attacked them were shaky at
best. “Calling them victims is an insult,” said William Fahy, Barnes’
But prosecutors said the officers were at fault for starting the fight and probably thought they’d never get caught.
“Why did they do it? Because they felt like it, judge. That's why,”
Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Freeman said during her closing
statements on April 1.
The videotape from the scuffle was a key factor that led to former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline's resignation.
View the tape at www.suntimes.com/news/24-7/1547768,chicago-police-jefferson-tap-not-guilty-042809.article