Champaign council to weigh new review of arrest

Champaign council to weigh new review of arrest

CHAMPAIGN — The city council this week is scheduled to revisit a controversial June 2011 arrest, over which Champaign police officers and some community members are divided about whether an appropriate amount of force was used to detain a 19-year-old black man.

With council approval, the city would pay up to $85,000 for CAG Consulting to review the incident and help respond to a citizen complaint against the police officer. The consultant also would examine and potentially make recommendations for changes to the police department's "use of force" policy.

The city council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

It has been a recurring topic since November, when details of the incident began circulating. A police video of the arrest was about to leak, and City Manager Steve Carter and State's Attorney Julia Rietz asked the Illinois State Police to review what Carter called a "troubling" summer arrest.

Since the arrest, the Champaign Police Department, Illinois State Police and FBI have all said the officer did not commit any violations of policy or law when he apparently stopped a man for jaywalking.

In the video, Officer Patrick Simons asks then-19-year-old Brandon Ward to stop near the corner of Fourth and Green streets. Simons pepper sprays Ward after bringing him back to the squad car, and later in the video, Simons grabs Ward at the neck in the back seat.

City officials have said the first three reviews have been incomplete, and they believe an independent consultant can deliver a more thorough examination of the arrest and the city's use-of-force policy.

But the city's police union has called for city officials to end what they call an excessive investigation. Union officials have said Simons followed city policy, and one officer has said the repeated investigations amount to a "witch hunt."

In a report to city council, city administrators say contracting with CAG Consulting would assist Carter in his response to the citizen complaint, which had been dismissed by now-retired Police Chief R.T. Finney but was later appealed. It is also an opportunity to look at the policies and tactics used in that situation, and to "see what can be learned" for the future.

CAG Consulting is led by Charles A. Gruber, who has been chief of police in three Illinois cities and served as president of both the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

"Citizens deserve to know what happened," the report said. "This is an opportunity to help the public understand the total situation in which the incident occurred as well as the incident itself."

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koffeeking wrote on February 06, 2012 at 8:02 am

This whole incident would be great for SNL's feature "REALLY?!?"

james33 wrote on February 06, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Please News-Gazette tell us why you can't give a description of the man that stuck a gun in the cab drivers face and assaulted him.............Yeah that's right assaulted him, the cab driver is my friend and your report is totally incomplete. You emphasize that this is a black male that got a little pepper spray in his face after total disreguard to the officers orders. If you break the law and and don't do as the cops tell you, yes you deserve to be pepper sprayed at the minimum. The police officers don't know if that black male has a gun in his pocket all the cop knows is that the perp is not cooperating and needs to take action. What if the 19yr old black man did have a gun and shot someone, the officer would be brought up on charges of not taking action to prevent that from happening. If this were a white man that got sprayed the only investigation that would be done is why the cop didn't use his taser as well as the pepper spray and the cop put everybody in danger by not taking the white man to the ground and incompasitating him immediatly!


the-uniform wrote on February 06, 2012 at 8:02 am

If they want to amend their policy maybe they could adopt the county wide use-of-force policy that every P.D. in the county except Champaign uses. That would save them a whole lot of money.

ronaldo wrote on February 06, 2012 at 9:02 am

1. What does the use-of-force policy that you refer to say?

2. What other police force in the county remotely compares to what the Champaign Police Department has to potentially face on a daily basis?  (yes, I'm baiting you to say "Urbana" when the statistics say "NONE")

doglvr wrote on February 06, 2012 at 8:02 am

$85,000 to look at a report?

seems like for that kind of money they'll say whatever you want them to.

how will spending a small fortune placate C-U citizens? because they're expert cops? what a joke!

C in Champaign wrote on February 06, 2012 at 8:02 am

The Mayor and city staff weren't happy with the first investigation. Not satisfied with the second investigation. And, clearly, the third was just wrong since it found no wrongdoing by the officer in question. Keep looking, and eventually they will find someone to say it was wrong.

Regardless of your point of view of this whole situation, the one thing you can be sure of is that a new $85,000 report will find something wrong, and make all kinds of suggestions about ways to change city policy. It has to, how else could you possibly justify such a high priced deliverable. If somebody hired me, and told me they weren't happy with the outcome of the first three reports, you can bet I would give them what they are looking for. And I would do it for a whole lot less money.

Step up, man up, grow a pair. If you think the reports were wrong or incomplete, put it to the Council. Propose a bill that would cause a review and/or revision of the use of force policy, debate it, and give it an up or down vote. Then, assuming it passes, let the new chief do his job working with city officials, community leaders, and the police union to develop a new policy. I'm willing to bet they come up with a workable policy that doesn't cost $85,000.



Bird_Man wrote on February 06, 2012 at 8:02 am

What they are really saying is:  City officials have said the first three reviews have been incomplete, and we didn't get the answer we wanted so were going to pay someone $85,000 to tell us what we want to hear.

ronaldo wrote on February 06, 2012 at 8:02 am

You're spot on. 

Speakerman11 wrote on February 06, 2012 at 9:02 am

Whack.  Whack.  Whack.  Whack.  Whack. Whack.  This poor dead horse; the city shows it no respect.  I am going to love it when CAG comes back with the same result as the previous 3 investigations.  Then what!?  Another investigation?  It wouldnt surprise me. 

scollins4443 wrote on February 06, 2012 at 9:02 am
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In the video, I seen a total of six jaywalkers. I am talkining about the long version, not the one that only showed what happened in spurts. The citizens need to know this type of action so they know what to expect if they are caught jaywalking. This is not a waste of money if the police can use force of that nature for jaywalking.They had three investigations and they all wear badges. Of course they will be prejudicial if a brother in arms are the perpetrators. I hope the independent consultants can take the film for it's full totality and not be bias! Also in the video, why did the police stop after the arrest? Shouldn't they have just taken him to the county jail? I would have been scared myself.


Local Yocal wrote on February 06, 2012 at 9:02 am
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It would cost $85,000 to buy someone to have the guts to approach the already hostile FOP at the Champaign Police Department. Can Officer Simons, Officer Aschell, and Officer Prosser refuse to cooperate with the investigation?

Local Yocal wrote on February 06, 2012 at 12:02 pm
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All here are correct. What's "troubling" to the City Manager is not that a young man was unnecessarily roughed up,....what's "troubling" is you got Champaign Police officers and their former Chief of Police claiming the officers' unnecessary roughness was according to city policy.....and that's seriously "troubling"....because that makes the City of Champaign seriously liable in civil court. So all of you are right, the City Manager and his City Attorney are shopping for a finding that officers Simons, Aschell and Prosser didn't follow the policy....and in response to the release of the video (once the City Manager became aware), the City of Champaign exercised due diligence in improving the policy and can override the Union to discipline the officers...and in that way....we spend $85,000 millions later. See how this game is played? Now you boys hush up and let the City Manager run the city,....daddy's working.

EL YATIRI wrote on February 07, 2012 at 5:02 am
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One of the few comments worth reading, in my opinion.

purple9 wrote on February 06, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Won't $85,000 fix a few streets in town?  

CJ Williams wrote on February 06, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Are these the same Use of force policies approved by council?  The same approved by the ICLEA?  So the City council has approved it, the police certification that was approved by the City council approved it, but Donny boy et al didnt like that so now we are going to spend 85k  ( didnt the CM just say that if  the billwas that high he would choke) any way I hope martel et al are happy.