Editor’s note: The RoundTable plans to publish another article recapping the rest of the Feb. 1 meeting.
Much like a ping pong match, the Citizen Police Review Commission sent citizen complain 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 rendered 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 afterwards, on-duty officers arrived on scene.
While the teenager laid on the ground waiting for the 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 that there was collusion among the officers since the officer, who is no longer with the department, received a single ticket for the incident.
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 two 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, said Commander Ryan Glew.