Champaign identifies officers who fired guns; investigations under way
CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign Police Department has identified the officers who fired their guns during two recent calls for service and said it will continue to follow its own policy for investigating the appropriateness of the shootings.
In one incident a dog was killed and in the second, the officer fired his gun at the car of a man fleeing from a violent domestic dispute.
However, the department has not released the identity of the officers involved in a third shooting in September in which a Champaign man was shot several times by two officers responding to a home invasion involving an armed man.
The latter incident in which Anthony S. Brown, 25, was shot at a home on Crispus Drive on Sept. 9 is being investigated by a multi-jurisdictional use of force team. Officers from six area police departments and a representative of the Champaign County state's attorney's office are involved in that investigation.
Illinois State Police Sgt. Mike Atkinson said he hopes to have most of the reports on Brown's shooting compiled and forwarded to Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb next week. Cobb and State's Attorney Julia Rietz will determine if the use of lethal force was justified.
The Champaign police department does not take part in investigating its own officers' shooting of Brown, just the criminal investigation of Brown's actions.
The more recent incidents are the subject of an internal review.
A release from Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn said Andre Davis was the officer who fired at two dogs that were tangling at the corner of John and Crescent streets about 5:20 p.m. on Nov. 17.
The dog's owner, Kathy Saathoff, said her 18-year-old daughter was walking their chocolate Labrador named Dog when a pit bull came across the street and began attacking Dog.
Saathoff's daughter and another man tried unsuccessfully to get the pit bull off Dog. Police arrived and Davis ended up firing several shots at the dogs, accidentally hitting and killing the Labrador.
The attacking pit bull was taken to the county's animal control pound, where it was humanely killed Tuesday, 10 days after it was brought in.
"Nobody came, nobody called. Nobody did anything about it," said Amber Moore of the animal control office.
The second incident where an officer fired his duty weapon happened about 4:15 p.m. on Nov. 20.
Sgt. John Schweighart was sent to a violent domestic dispute call in the 200 block of West Columbia Avenue where Michael Glover, 45, of Charleston, had allegedly broken the window out of an apartment and tried to drag his former girlfriend and another man out. Both of them were cut and bleeding. Glover then allegedly used a tire iron to break out the woman's car windows before getting in a car to leave.
Schweighart was outside his squad car repeatedly ordering Glover to stop when Glover put his car in reverse and tried to run Schweighart over. Because there was a passenger in Glover's car, Schweighart fired at the tires of the car and not at Glover, trying to prevent him from getting very far. Glover later crashed the car and was ultimately arrested.
Dunn said there are two stages to the internal shooting investigations.
Lt. Jon Swenson, who heads up the professional standards office, will review all the reports generated by the officers and their supervisors and evaluate if everyone acted within departmental guidelines before, during and after the gun was fired.
A separate firearms discharge review board, sometimes referred to as a "shooting board," will also review all the reports and hear testimony, if necessary, from officers and witnesses.
The findings and conclusions of Swenson and the shooting board all get sent to Cobb, who makes the final decision on the appropriateness of the officers' actions.
Davis has been a Champaign police officer since June 2004. Schweighart has been with the department since February 1989.