Champaign council hears accusations against police

Champaign council hears accusations against police

CHAMPAIGN -- Usually a docile place, the Champaign City Council chambers on Tuesday night forced Mayor Don Gerard to recess the meeting while he made a decision whether to hear from speakers concerned about the alleged police beating of a black teenager.

Voices bellowed from the audience section, particularly that of activist Martel Miller, who says his son was the victim of a police attack and excessive force after a chase.

"He ran because he was scared of the police," Miller yelled. "The kids should not be scared of the police."

A public comment period was not listed on the agenda, a fact that was not received well by audience members who wanted to speak. The mood in the chambers quickly became tense, and Gerard recessed the meeting while he consulted with city administrators.

The council eventually allowed audience members to address the alleged beating. Many wore yellow tags that said, "I stand with Calvin Miller," who appeared at the meeting on crutches.

Calvin Miller did not say much, but Martel Miller said city officials need to deal with several "rogue officers."

"Champaign kids in the African-American community should not be scared of the police," Miller said.

The comments focused on the alleged attack, but a persistent theme was that the speakers wanted city officials to cultivate more trust between the city's police department and the black community.

Otis Noble III, a friend of Martel Miller's, said he moved to Champaign a few years ago to work at the University of Illinois and was troubled by what he saw.

"This hits too close to home," Noble said.

Donte Lotts pointed to a photo of Calvin Miller taken after the alleged beating.

"This disturbs me," Lotts said. "I have never seen a frown on this young man's face in all the years I've known him."

He said the city needs to do more to show kids in the community how to interact with police.

"Each time we have an incident like this, we take three or four steps backwards, and we need to be more proactive," Lotts said.

The story documented by justice officials differs somewhat from what speakers told the council on Tuesday night.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Calvin Miller, 18, of the 1000 block of South Duncan Road, was spotted by an officer about 1:30 a.m. Monday as he sped out of the University Village apartment complex in the 2000 block of North Moreland Boulevard, ran over a curb, and allegedly ran a red light at the intersection of Moreland and Marketview Drive.

The officer, who had his lights and sirens activated, followed the van that Miller was driving south on Neil Street and continued following it to the intersection of Greenbriar and Arcadia drives, where the officer saw the driver's door open. While the van was moving at about 15 mph, the driver, later identified as Calvin Miller, jumped from it. The van continued on and hit the front of a house in the 200 block of Arcadia, damaging the front steps and handrail, Rietz said.

After a brief foot chase, during which Miller allegedly jumped a fence, the officer caught up with and tackled Miller in a yard on Brookwood Drive. Another officer joined in and the two wrestled with Miller, Rietz said. He complied after one of the officers sprayed him with pepper spray.

Rietz said when interviewed, Miller told the officer that his father, Martel Miller, told him he was not required to stop for police and to keep driving and call him, which he said he was trying to do. Rietz said officers described the younger Miller as "very apologetic."

He was charged with resisting arrest and criminal damage to property, both misdemeanors.

Rietz said she obtained a copy of the videotape taken from inside the squad car to verify what the officers had written in their reports.

Miller was released from custody after posting bond.

Comments

Comments for this post are read only.

ronaldo wrote on October 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm

"...he sped out of the University Village apartment complex in the 2000 block of North Moreland Boulevard, ran over a curb, and allegedly ran a red light at the intersection of Moreland and Marketview Drive....the van that Miller was driving south on Neil Street and continued following it to the intersection of Greenbriar and Arcadia drives, where the officer saw the driver's door open. While the van was moving at about 15 mph, the driver, later identified as Calvin Miller, jumped from it. The van continued on and hit the front of a house in the 200 block of Arcadia, damaging the front steps and handrail.."

And wrestling a fleeing two-bit thug and pepper-spraying him into compliance is "excessive force"?? "Scared of the police" is no excuse for breaking the law. Martel Miller, quit your crying.

BeingTheMartian wrote on October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

Why do you call him a "two-big thug"? Why "two-bit"? Why "thug"?

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am
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Easy answer. Because he's black and some people on here love to push the boundaries of bigoted speech.

freechampaign wrote on October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

Or maybe because the family history show a lack of respect for the laws of the state. Take a look at the Circuit Clerk of Champaign County website for the criminal history of the Miller family. It does not paint a pretty picture.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 1:10 am
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And I'm sure you'd be posting about it and looking up their history on the Internet if the kid was white, right?

You guys don't fool me.

freechampaign wrote on October 26, 2011 at 1:10 am

Been there done that. More than I can say for your little snide comments when a white person gets arrested.

You don't fool me either.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on October 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

The two different stories being presented also illustrates why Champaign would benefit from having a citizens review board.

BeingTheMartian wrote on October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

I agree wholeheartedly.

Yatiri wrote on October 26, 2011 at 4:10 am

support for a Review Board ought to be one of the criteria for selecting the new Police Chief.

orbit wrote on October 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

It would have been interesting to have included more of the comments from the many community members that stayed at the City Council until 10:30 to have their voices heard.

So, Ronaldo read this article (which presents the police version of events recounted by Julia Reitz) and then quoted it before calling the young man a thug. This is why comment sections need to be separated from journalism.

I encourage the News-Gazette to interview some of the people who were talking about systemic problems with Champaign police, and consider including the photo of the young man when his eye was swollen shut, his face puffy, crutches, etc. The article currently mentions that Donte had a photo (there were 100s of copies available tonight), and it mentions that the police "wrestled" with the young man. Seems like a sanitizing of the harm done to him, and a deliberate silencing of the voices of the community that came out to be heard tonight.

Intrigued95 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

Issues I have with this:

"He ran because he was scared of the police," Miller yelled.

No, he ran because he committed a crime and didn't want to face the consequences.

"He said the city needs to do more to show kids in the community how to interact with police."

Actually, the PARENTS need to do more with this issue, not the city. Maybe Martel Miller should step up and teach his son that breaking the law isn't acceptable.

"Rietz said when interviewed, Miller told the officer that his father, Martel Miller, told him he was not required to stop for police and to keep driving and call him"

Since when is refusing to stop for the police an option?

All of the above statements indicate the Martel Miller should probably stop his complaining and start teaching his son some morals. I'm so sick of hearing the black community whine about the police victimizing them. Stop blaming the police for your lack of parenting skills.

mwillis71 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 6:10 am

I couldn't have said it better myself. This town has some real issues and it all stems from groups of people blaming the town/police/teachers/schools/etc... for the misbehavior and general lack of respect for authority that their children and young adults have. The problem is that it isn't the town/police/teachers/schools/etc... fault but their own! Grow up, value your education, stop having kids if you don't want to raise them and become a productive member of society rather than a parasite!!!!

C-U Townie wrote on October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am

Eventually you have to say enough is enough. When will the eternal restitution be paid for the bigotry and discrimination of past generations? Rather than simply facing the fact that the police used appropriate force to handle criminal behavior the family of the young man is choosing to make excuses and blame the police.
I agree that behavior is taught at home. It is not the city's responsibility to teach the young man how to behave like a young man. His parents also seem to be the ones who precipitated the bad choice of Calvin Miller. If Mr. Miller really advised his son that he did not need to stop for police then it is Mr. Miller who is responsible for the frown on his child's face. He gave him incorrect information, which he knew was incorrect.
It is easier to jump on a bandwagon of blaming others than it is to take responsibility for one's own actions. What's worse is that they are hiding behind an issue that is very real. They are using racism as a scapegoat for NOT teaching this child how to correctly behave. That is unfair to do because racism was not the issue here. Illegal behavior was. To use racism as the trump card whenever someone doesn't want to own up to their actions is ridiculous and only perpetuates the issue. Looking to city officials, school boards, and others in authority to teach your child how to behave... and then protesting against those teachings... it's a double standard that needs to stop.
Parents, regardless of your ethnicity, there is common sense and there's ignorant behavior. How YOU have taught your child is YOUR accomplishment or YOUR failure.

BeingTheMartian wrote on October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

I'm a professional in my mid-40's, and I've never been convicted of a single crime. What I'm about to say is not true of every Champaign police officer, but it is absolutely true of several I have encountered or observed within the last year.

I've lived in a many places, and I think the Champaign police force is out-of-control when it comes to interacting with just about everybody (especially the poor, of any color). They are scared that every person they come across is going to attack them. I'll admit that a police officer's job is more dangerous than most, but they signed up for it, and I don't think it's OK for them to treat every encounter with the public as a potential bloodbath. Their extreme defensiveness is the cause of many violent encounters, and many "fleeing" situations, as well.

They're armed. They feel that they are above the law. And they're scared. That's a frightening combination.

My advice - VIDEOTAPE EVERY ENCOUNTER YOU HAVE WITH THE CHAMPAIGN POLICE. At least that way, you won't get beat up....probably. Also, know your rights, and insist on them (but get it all on videotape, or you're liable to end up in jail or worse).

freechampaign wrote on October 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

Boy you must really get around town if you can say the police are "out of control when it comes to interacting with just about everybody". After all how can you honestly say this unless you witness all the interactions the police have. Maybe you just have a magic crystal ball or something. If you think that the police are scared than man-up, go take the test, join the force and be the Superman they need. However we know what the likelihood of you doing that is!

Yatiri wrote on October 26, 2011 at 4:10 am

I had a recent encounter with the CPD. I called because I caught an intruder in my house. A 14 yo kid broke into my house, was hiding in my basement with a beer bottle raised to hit me on my head. I talked him out of it, calmed him and called 911.

A sarge and officer responded. They were rude to me, and began treating me as if I were a suspect. They gave me unlawful orders to stop and be interrogated. I did not comply with their unlawful orders after asking them if I was legally obliged to follow those.

They have a "SWAT" team mentality. They like to have a paramilitary appearance, skin head hair cuts, rambo sunglasses, black gloves, boots instead of dress shoes.

In this instance I was the victim of a serious crime. They took one look at my skin color and treated me like a perp.

2BLESSED2BSTRESSED wrote on October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am

A person doesn't have to "get around town" to see that the police are "out of control" Its in the papers, its on the News. I wonder what magic crystal ball you are looking in for you to think that there is nothing wrong with the way the police are acting. Or you are a police officer and you know how you guys stick together, So I guess you think that 2 years ago when K'waun was killed it was justified. TRAGIC!!!

Yatiri wrote on October 26, 2011 at 4:10 am

I have had several encounters with the CPD and agree that recording them is important. They are deceitful and biased.

I have video of CPD lying about detaining me, lying saying they weren't even looking for me after 3 cars with officers came to my house and detained me. On tape they change their story and tell me that I didn't do anything, that I was detained merely because I was in a high crime area.

kiwifuz wrote on October 26, 2011 at 2:10 am

I'm apparently missing something, could his injuries not have been caused by him jumping from the vehicle & jumping a fence? If this young man jumping a curb, running a light, not pulling over, jumping from the vehicle, etc is on tape where is there any question?
I'm no fan of the Champaign police (and I'm white). I was harassed along with my husband for being around Neil & North too late at night (outside of his office picking him up from work mind you) and completely agree that they have issues.
Something is off here.

personali wrote on October 26, 2011 at 5:10 am

I would post a comment but it seems like when I post a pro-police comment it gets removed.

natebaux wrote on October 26, 2011 at 6:10 am

well, here is your chance. i will be your witness.

Yatiri wrote on October 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

You want us to believe that the NG is removing pro police comments?

natebaux wrote on October 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

i dont recall the exact guidelines for post removal. could we have an "all to redundant" reminder?

Jsmith68 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 6:10 am

So you are around an office building late at night in a known crime area. Checked on by the police and you call that being harassed. Sounds like doing their job.

Yatiri wrote on October 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

No I was at my home, not an office building, I was in my neighborhood. And yes, I was definitely harassed and unlawfully detained without any reasonable suspicion of anything.

Last I checked time of night or day, and living in a high crime area are not crimes or even suspicious activities.

tigersy2k3 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 8:10 am

You are correct that isnt a crime, but the police will be more cautious. I am sure in Iraq and Iran there are several good citizens, however, I highly doubt that the military personnel goes into the houses offering up a handshake.. no they go in weapons drawn, pat down the people and then release them...

Read these comments, there is obviously a population of the African American community who does not like the police, so when they are in those populated areas they are going to take extra measures for their own safety.

Guess what.. if you live in the country and the population is majority white and it is a high crime area, they do the exact same thing. If you dont want to deal with the cops, dont call them. Its really that simple

IU1977 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am

Yari-

Next time do not call the cops. Not worth your time right? I hope that the SA releases the video tape of the chase and what ever is captured after that.

In the mean time... let see how Chris Rock would approach this.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=chris+rock+how+not+to+get+yo...

1reader wrote on October 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

"spotted by an officer about 1:30 a.m. Monday as he sped out of the University Village apartment complex in the 2000 block of North Moreland Boulevard, ran over a curb, and allegedly ran a red light at the intersection of Moreland and Marketview Drive" This probably appeared as a possible DUI, and after fleeing he then ran the car into the front of a home. Someone else could have been seriously hurt. I am not sure what the argument is here, he was fleeing from police. The end.

Bass wrote on October 26, 2011 at 8:10 am

Perhapse the "beating" this man took was due to the fact that he JUMPED FROM A MOVING CAR....that he also HIT A HOUSE WITH.

Maybe the reason the youth are scared of the police is because their parents as telling them to be.

This kid deserved every thing he got. And who do they think they were kidding with that little "Oh he is in crutches" picture. He walked to the podium just fine.

I hope the city sees that this is all fake and every sob story told was just made up.

fortheright wrote on October 26, 2011 at 8:10 am

LMAO @ Martel Miller, Calvin Miller and everyone that backs this crazy claim.

natebaux wrote on October 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

soo, is he guilty of child endangerment? telling his child to not stop for police? does his household contain other "sleeper-cell" children, just waiting for their opportunity to NOT stop for police?

he is 18. i know its possible to charge a child as an adult, but is it possible to charge an adult as child? it just might be appropriate in this case.

better question. why dont we all form a group, devoted to teaching kids, while they are still kids, all the necessary skills to survive and function in society, for all the parents that dont have time or dont feel it is their responsibility. the simple stuff like, stopping for police, or bring the vehicle to a complete stop before bailing from the fuzz. an investment of our time in that capacity, as opposed to venting frustrations on a comments section, or scripting low rent humor, would surly return a handsome dividend.

props to the mayor...for keeping a straight face, while people are shouting at him to educate "their" kids. maybe the president could invite the mayor and the millers to the white house for a beer?

tigersy2k3 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

You cant teach kids anything, when they go home and their parents are telling them the opposite. It is natural behavior to believe that your parents are giving you the best knowledge until you are capable of understanding and making judgement for yourself... In this case obviously the Jr. is not to the point yet where you can make his own judgements free of what his father is telling him.

You can preach to him all you want, but if his father is his role model and tells him otherwise, you are wasting time and oxygen

anony95 wrote on October 26, 2011 at 8:10 am

Like so many others, I am no fan of CPD. But seriously...the behavior the police observed certainly warranted stopping him, and jumping from a moving vehicle would certainly account for his injuries. The police didn't chase him because of the color of his skin (which would not have been discernible from the police car at night anyway.) Had he simply stopped when he saw the lights and heard the siren - which he is legally required to do - none of this would have happened. It is THE PARENTS' responsibility to teach kids how to interact with police, just like it is THE PARENTS' responsibility to teach kids moral values and right from wrong. This "parent" didn't do his job and has no right to waste city council time because of his own failure. Look in the mirror.

Smitto wrote on October 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

Not only that, but a swollen and puffy face is a direct result of being pepper sprayed. Don't run from the police, and you won't get pepper sprayed. That concept is clear as day.

This was clearly a case of lack of respect for authority, and poor parenting.

I think the CPD does an outstanding job, and deserve all the respect in the world.

Bass wrote on October 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

To all he people making claims of police burtality...

They say they stoped him cause he is black...

Aren't they accusing the officers of this because they are white?

sharqi wrote on October 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

There are, as mentioned, TWO stories to what happened that night. And why is only one reported on? Is this the sorry excuse for objective journalism available for this newspaper? Some people might think the police have all the credibility, but I challenge that assumption. Police, especially in this town, have a known problem with African American youth. It is not likely they should be trusted to speak the truth, even with their badges. I lived in a poor integrated neighborhood (not U-C), and I was amazed at the police brutality that went on. I could not believe it. I thought it would be different here, but apparently, police brutality is a pervasive undercurrent to being a cop. I know there are good cops out there, but when the barrel is infested....

getoverhere wrote on October 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

Listen, I've had my fair share of dealing with the CPD, and I am a white upper middle class guy in his 20's, a recent graduate from the University. The CPD are unlawful in their tactics, they lie, they cheat, they find any way to turn a situation against you if it means meeting a quota or getting a bust.

I had an incident once a little over three years ago when I was walking down campus with two other friends, minding our own business. We crossed at a crosswalk in front of a cop, and on the side of the road on a marked path with cones (there was construction on Green St. at the time), and I turned my head and looked at the cop because I thought I had known him from a previous incident where I was a victim of vandalism and he was sent to assist me (might I add he also tried to make me look like I was up to something in that situation). Anyways, we walked down about a block before he came running at me, grabbed my arm from behind and wrestled me down on the ground, kicking his knee into my back as he put cuffs on me, dragged me without allowing me to get up to his car, and throwing me in the back seat. Despite the amount of time I asked why I was being arrested, he wouldn't say a word. I was later booked and charged with Resisting a Peace Officer, on top of writing me a traffic ticket for Illegal Walking on a high way, some bs. Both were dismissed and thrown out of court because I had witnesses, and I filed a complaint with the CPD. Despite the overwhelming evidence I had against the officer, they turned down my complaint and said they found no reason to punish the officer.

This is the reality of police in this town. This isn't just rowdy criminals pissed that they got busted and wanting to get back, these are real people, real hard working citizens, getting tired of the police brutality and abuse of power around here. Just about a month ago I got pulled over and had my car searched against my will, just for squealing my tires! We are tired of dealing with these over-zealous idiots, and something IS going to be done about this! There is no reason for this kind of behavior, they are supposed to be the protectors, not the criminals.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am
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Good story.

But why did you squeal your tires? Your phrasing makes it sound like a deliberate act. If so, that will minimize your credibility in the minds of many readers.

John O'Connor wrote on October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am

I've also been treated like a criminal by a Champaign cop when I called to report a broken car window outside a downtown business I had just closed for the night. The cop treated me like I was the one who broke the window. Excellent police work -- treating the one who called it in as the one who did it. Another local cop, this time a university canine cop put on crowd control, harassed me and gave me a ticket because, he said, I 'disrespected him.' How did I do this? By asking him why he was stopping me on my way to feed a meter during Unofficial St Patrick's Day and walking a few feet out of a cross walk when no cars were around but there were plenty of obviously drunk undergrads stumbling down the middle of both Daniel and Wright streets.

Of course, the complaint I filed after the second incident went nowhere. I'm white and middle class; I've heard stories about how unfairly minorities, as well as perhaps less well off people of all groups, can be treated by the cops in this town. How can we expect the police to police themselves? We need a citizen review board and I agree with the commenter above that this should be a non negotiable requirement for the new police chief. We should also institute a residency requirement for all new hires.

Police officers are fond of saying that if you're not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn't have anything to fear from the police. Well, if the police aren't doing anything wrong, then shouldn't they have nothing to fear from a citizen review board? If they counter that such review boards can be biased, then doesn't it also follow that police can be biased?

bremax wrote on October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am

The racial quotas for discipline that our school district has foolishly adopted has led to a general attitude of unaccountability among our young black population. They commit violent crimes at more than 2x the rate of the rest of Champaign (source: FBI Uniform Crime Database).

This situation with Calvin Miller is not the result of a racist or out of control police force. It is the result of an out of control boy who displayed a total lack of respect for authority.

His father is raging against the system that protects us, and would reform his child. Instead, Mr. Miller should work to improve the behavior of his criminal child.