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Forest preserve cop resigns after apparently failing to help woman being harassed over Puerto Rico shirt

Matthew Walberg and Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- The Cook County Forest Preserve District police officer who was caught on video seemingly ignoring a woman's call for help has resigned, the district announced late Wednesday.

Officer Patrick Connor's resignation is effective immediately, and as of Wednesday he "no longer serves in the police department," a district spokeswoman said in a written statement.

The announcement came amid a growing chorus of calls for the officer to lose his job over the encounter, which happened in mid-June but became an international scandal this week when video footage of the incident went viral and drew millions of views.

In the video, shot at Caldwell Woods in Chicago, a man confronts and berates a woman for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt. The woman appeals to the officer for help but the officer, seen in the background just yards away, appears not to respond.

Connor, 56, joined the department in 2006, according to state records.

Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who had criticized the district for not acting more swiftly to discipline the officer, called Connor's resignation "a commonsense decision after his inaction and failure to serve Cook County."

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"However," the commissioner and candidate for Congress said in a written statement, "this still leaves many questions unanswered. Cook County Government must not only review the types of trainings that officers and staff in all departments receive, but how they are implemented and held accountable. I am committed to exploring how Cook County can better address racial and social equity to ensure that all people in Cook County can feel safe and welcomed while receiving our services and utilizing our grounds and facilities. I will be closely monitoring the developments of the ongoing investigation and will work to guarantee that potential hate crimes in Cook County are fully prosecuted."

Earlier Wednesday, the top lawyer for the union that represents Connor and his fellow officers on the forest preserve district police force had urged people not to rush to judgment based on what was seen on the video.

"I always say this when it comes to video: The video doesn't look good, but anybody who's a football fan knows that the video doesn't tell the entire story," Tamara Cummings, general counsel for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, said Wednesday. "We don't know what was going on outside the video, and we don't know what was going through the officer's mind. That's the purpose of the investigation, to find out all the facts."

Connor's actions have come under heavy criticism based on the video, and there have been multiple calls for him to be dismissed. Connor had been on desk duty on June 24 -- 10 days after the video was shot -- as an internal investigation commenced.

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