Judge lowers bond for UI student accused of pointing pellet gun at cops

Judge lowers bond for UI student accused of pointing pellet gun at cops

URBANA — A Champaign County judge Tuesday lowered the bond for a University of Illinois student apparently struggling with mental-health issues that led to his arrest over the weekend.

Samuel Applebaum, 23, who listed an address in the 900 block of South First Street, was arrested Saturday on a warrant issued after he allegedly threatened to shoot police, prompting them to fire on him Thursday evening.

Judge Tom Difanis had set bond for the disorderly conduct charge at $100,000 after hearing about the exchange between the UI senior and three police officers who fired in his direction, striking him in the leg.

First Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said last week that Applebaum himself called officers to the intersection of Locust and John streets, a residential neighborhood, claiming there was a man loading a semiautomatic gun there.

Officers saw Applebaum with a gun in his hand and ordered him at least eight times to put it down. When he refused and pointed it at them, UI police officers A.J. Martin and Chuck Hoskins and Champaign County sheriff's Deputy Cory Christensen all fired at Applebaum.

He was shot in the leg and taken to Carle Foundation Hospital, where he remained until being transferred to jail Saturday night. The gun he had was a pellet gun.

At a "second look" bail hearing Tuesday, Judge John Kennedy lowered Applebaum's bond to $50,000 after hearing from defense attorney Tom Bruno.

Applebaum also appeared before the judge via video from the satellite jail in east Urbana. He was wearing the heavy anti-suicide gown typically given to inmates who are on special watch. He asked the judge if he could speak but Bruno told him he preferred that he not.

Bruno acknowledged to Kennedy that his client's bond amount is less of an issue for Applebaum's family than finding an appropriate placement for him.

"He has two parents very involved in his schooling who are aware of his case," said Bruno, noting that the Flossmoor man is one semester shy of obtaining a degree in integrative biology.

"Eight days ago, they were in contact with Northwestern Hospital (in Chicago) trying to arrange a bed. That was derailed by the incident on Thursday," Bruno told the judge. "His parents are involved in the search for appropriate care and are in contact with medical professionals in Chicago."

Bruno represented him last year on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence that resulted in Applebaum's conviction and a sentence of 18 months of probation, which he's still serving.

After the hearing, Bruno declined to elaborate on Applebaum's condition.

The investigation involving the use of force by the officers is continuing. Illinois State Police Sgt. Mike Campbell said the collection of evidence and the interviews of the officers should wrap up soon. His team will then have to compile all that into reports for the state's attorney to review.

"This process varies with each investigation. We strive to complete it as quickly as we can," he said.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Dan Walsh said Christensen is set to return to work today. UI police spokesman Pat Wade said Martin and Hoskins remain on leave.

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