Editor’s Note: The RoundTable plans to publish another article recapping the rest of the Feb. 1 meeting.
Much like a pingpong match, the Citizen Police Review Commission sent a citizen complaint about a teenager struck by an off-duty officer’s vehicle back to the Evanston Police Department on Feb. 1 to be reviewed for a third time.
“I’m not sure what they did when we sent this back,” said Commissioner Juneitha Shambee. “It just seems like they just ping-ponged it back to us and said ‘Well, here you go,’ without doing anything further to even consider what we said.”
The complainants are a 15-year-old and his parents. The teenager was struck by an off-duty EPD officer’s vehicle while riding his bike to school on the Greenwood Street crosswalk on Oct. 28, 2021.
The incident left the child unconscious, but when he came to, the off-duty officer and another off-duty cop, who saw the incident, introduced themselves as police to the child. Shortly afterward, on-duty officers arrived on the scene.
While the teenager lay on the ground waiting for an ambulance to arrive, he said he heard one officer say: “Well, this is why we don’t bike on Ridge, right?”
The basis of the complaint surrounds that statement the teenager overheard. The complainants also allege there was collusion among the officers since the officer, who is no longer with the department, received only a single traffic ticket.
The teenager wasn’t offered victim services for the incident.
The department found that the officers involved didn’t violate any rules and there wasn’t sufficient evidence proving an officer made the alleged statement.
The commission reviewed the complaint for the first time in November 2022. After viewing the body camera footage during executive session, the commission agreed they heard the accused officers say similar comments to what the complainants allege.
But they found that the statements were said within earshot of the child, not to the child directly.
The commission also supported the complainant’s allegation of collusion since the officer received one citation.
The commission reviewed a second commander’s investigation of the complaint during a Wednesday night meeting on Feb. 1.
The second investigation came to the same conclusion as the initial investigation.
“This is clearly improper for you to have said that,” Shambee said. “If you are deaf, you would have been able to hear what these guys said on the video. It is ridiculous.”
The second patrol commander and deputy chief agreed that the investigation didn’t break any rules and there wasn’t proof that the statement was said to the child.
“The Initial investigation for CR 21-06 was accurate and the conclusions presented by the Chain of Command was correct,” said the patrol commander in the memo.
Intent seems to be the missing ingredient, Glew said. It’s unclear if the officers meant to be cruel or heard by the complainant, he said.
“The thing that immediately comes to mind when I look at this conversation taking place, it’s pretty consistent with people that have been involved in an accident,” Glew said. “You’re basically having that post-accident conversation during an investigation.”
After much debate on whether sending the complaint back to EPD would amount to anything, the commission motioned to have EPD review the complaint for a third time.
A third, different commander and chief will review the complaint, Glew said.
I have an issue with the phrase, “a teenager struck by an off-duty officer’s vehicle.” I believe you mean, “An off-duty officer driving on Ridge struck a cyclist in a crosswalk, leaving the teenager, who was biking to school, unconscious.”
What a shock, a cop making insensitive remarks. I don’t think ‘all cops are bad’, but a lot of them have cruel streaks and make callous remarks, even in the earshot of victims. It’s their way of distancing themselves from emotions and – in this case – brushing off responsibility, since it was a cop that HIT the child. It seems clear that it’s his way of excusing his fault (to himself), the same way people say ‘this is why women shouldn’t wear tight clothing and walk alone at night’ to explain away why someone was assaulted.
Also, it sounds like the kid wasn’t biking ‘on Ridge’ at the time but was struck in the crosswalk, which has no traffic light but is still a crosswalk. What would the cop have said if the kid had been on foot or walking his bike? ‘This is why we don’t walk in crosswalks? This is why we don’t cross the street?’ Laughable.
But the biggest fault is not with the cop. It is with Evanston’s terrible urban “planning” and so-called traffic “control.” They refuse to inconvenience drivers with those legal irritants known as stop signs and stop lights, especially along Ridge. And our young pedestrians and bikers are often the ones who suffer.