CHICAGO -- A Chicago police oversight agency has recommended the firing of an officer who shot and severely injured his friend after a long night of heavy drinking then lied about what happened, according to a report obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
In the report completed this summer, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability determined that Officer Patrick J. Kelly shot Michael LaPorta in the head in 2010. The shooting left LaPorta unable to walk, read or live independently.
Kelly told investigators that LaPorta shot himself in a suicide attempt. The Chicago Tribune reported that COPA said the physical evidence contradicts Kelly's version of events.
Kelly's attorney didn't respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Kelly hasn't been criminally charged. He was stripped of his police powers, but remains employed by the department.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson hasn't said if he supports the report's conclusion or its recommendation. A police spokesman declined to confirm the finding or comment on the case.
LaPorta testified during a civil trial that Kelly shot him after a quarrel. Jurors awarded LaPorta a record $44.7 million at trial. The city doesn't have to pay anything until the appeal process is complete.
COPA investigators suggested that Kelly couldn't recall the events that night because his memory was hampered by alcohol. If so, Kelly had an obligation to tell investigators he couldn't remember rather than lie, according to the report.
An agency spokesman could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Kelly has been found mentally unfit for duty twice, arrested two times, accused of beating a girlfriend and treated for alcohol addiction. LaPorta's attorney, Antonio Romanucci, called the shooting a sad capstone to the misconduct complaints against Kelly and the city's failure to address them.
A spokesman for the city's Law Department couldn't immediately comment on the findings or what it means to the ongoing lawsuit.
LaPorta's parents expressed relief that the city is holding someone accountable.
"It's about time," LaPorta's father, Michael Sr., told the Tribune. "We're happy someone besides us has opened their eyes to what's happening here."
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com