Why does the department protect its most dangerous cops while retaliating against officers who tell the truth?
Usually, that kid clomping down his mother’s porch is a tractor beam of charm. On the South Side of Chicago, where Gangster Disciples shoot the Black Disciples over slights and side-eyed infractions, nobody seems to hassle Calvin Cross — he’s too much fun to be around. He does a thousand voices, and all of them are funny, from 50 Cent impressions to Dave Chappelle to the cast of Diff’rent Strokes. Every night, he calls his girlfriend, Tunoka Jett, to tell her he loves and misses her — and to sometimes sing to her that dopey song from Dirty Dancing. “You can’t never be down when you’re around him,” Tunoka says. “He’ll just keep at you and at you till you laugh.” Tonight, though, Calvin’s high beams are dimmed a bit: It’s the day after Memorial Day, and he’s stuffed on BBQ. He’s on the couch drowsing through a Mavs-Heat game when his homie wakes him up to go hang out. Calvin doesn’t have friends so much as eager wingmen. “My craziest times with females happened offa him,” says Myles Gardner, his day-one bestie at Harlan High School. “Once he showed that smile to a girl, it’s a wrap — then I’d swoop in on her homegirl.” Calvin’s got a baby boy due in the next five weeks, and all he talks about is how he’s going to spoil him. But Tunoka is a dean’s‑list student headed for college, and Calvin’s 19 and, frankly, feeling himself. He’s got too much game to settle down.
And so now he’s off to kick it with his pal Ryan, a guy he befriended at Job Corps. The two teens walk up to 124th Street, headed around the corner to meet some girls. But about halfway between Parnell and Wallace streets, a police car suddenly screams to a halt beside them. Three cops pour out of it, dressed head to toe in black and pointing semi-automatics at them. Put your hands up, they scream; it’s dark; there’s a streetlight on the corner, but it’s broken. Ryan stops and raises his hands. Calvin takes off running. No one knows why he does this, though it’s easy enough to guess: He thinks he’s about to be killed.