Raw video posted on the Internet appears to show an on-duty Maywood police officer kicking a man on the floor while responding to an altercation last year at a local fast-food restaurant – the latest brutality claim for a department beset with allegations of corruption, heavy-handedness and ineptitude.
But as disturbing as the footage – apparently captured on camera phone by a witness, and posted last year on the video-sharing site YouTube – is that Maywood officials said they knew nothing about the Feb. 29, 2012, incident until asked about it by the Better Government Association this past month.
Prompted by that inquiry, the police department launched an internal investigation that has authenticated the video and pinpointed officers who responded to the call at Burger King on Roosevelt Road in the western suburb.
“What we’re trying to do is identify the employees of the business on duty that night to get corroborating testimony and discern the best we can which officer did the kicking,” said Maywood Village Manager Bill Barlow. “Right now it could be one of two officers.”
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While the video is shaky in parts and doesn’t show the officer’s foot connecting with the subject, the thrust of the officer’s leg is unmistakable. So it’s important to get witness statements to fill in the gaps, Barlow said.
“Once we have that I’m sure we’ll take appropriate action,” Barlow said, adding he “absolutely” has concerns about the conduct displayed on the video.
|Maywood Village Manager Bill Barlow|
“You always withhold final judgment until you have the complete picture, but I haven’t seen any reports based on the investigation that would indicate there were extenuating circumstances,” he said.
The man on the ground required medical attention, but it wasn’t clear whether injuries were caused by an officer or the altercation that prompted the police response, Barlow said. The BGA was unable to determine the names of those involved, or reach the person who took the video.
Launching the internal probe was one of the last acts of Tim Curry before he retired as Maywood’s police chief and took another government job – overseeing security for Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough.
Curry, who did not return phone calls from the BGA, had a rocky tenure as Maywood’s chief.
Although many police chiefs strive to avoid politics because independence and objectivity are key to enforcing laws, Curry had no problem delving into the political arena.
He became chief in 2009 after passing out election materials while off-duty for Yarbrough’s husband, now-former Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough. Curry donated $200 to his campaign fund earlier this year, and $50 to Karen Yarbrough’s fund in 2011, state records show.
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Under Curry’s watch a problem-plagued investigation into the 2006 murder of Maywood Police Officer Tom Wood ground to a halt. The case remains unsolved.
Just last month, Maywood Deputy Police Chief Brian Black resigned after pleading guilty to felony obstruction of justice related to an off-duty incident in which he allegedly pistol whipped a teenager who rebuffed his “advances,” authorities said.
To prevent more problems with municipal employees and help root out corruption, Maywood’s new mayor, Edwenna Perkins, wants to bring in Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office as the town’s “inspector general” – a service Dart is offering for any Cook County suburb.
If that proposal becomes reality in Maywood, the sheriff’s office could provide wing support when problems arise within the police department and other municipal agencies, officials said.
This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Robert Herguth and FOX 32’s Dane Placko. They can be reached at email@example.com or (312) 821-9030.