Sgt. Anthony Bankhead / Photo courtesy of CBS 2 Chicago
The Better Government Association and CBS2 reported last month that an antique handgun seized by Dolton police was never inventoried and went missing for more than two years.
Now, the police sergeant at the center of that controversy has been fired for “neglect of duty,” “failure to secure evidentiary material” and 10 other administrative charges, according to interviews and public records.
Anthony Bankhead, a 15-year Dolton police veteran, was terminated this week.
“Based on the findings the village had no other choice,” Dolton Police Chief John Franklin says.
The Cook County sheriff’s office questioned Bankhead but didn’t pursue criminal charges because the gun was recovered and eventually returned to its owner. The village initiated termination proceedings amid questions from the BGA and CBS2.
Village Attorney John Murphey says Bankhead is appealing his firing with an independent arbitrator, who will either uphold the decision or mete out a different punishment. The ruling will be binding.
Bankhead, a former Chicago Housing Authority police officer, was paid $108,655 last year by taxpayers. He declined to comment when contacted by the BGA. Officials with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents Dolton’s officers, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Bankhead likely would not qualify for a police pension if he loses his appeal, Murphey says.
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The .32-caliber pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition and two “blunts,” or cigars stuffed with marijuana, were recovered during an Illinois Department of Corrections “compliance check” at a Dolton home where a parolee was staying in December 2011.
Pierce Cole, 59, legally owns the weapons and the home and had been letting his friend Farren Caridine, 48, stay there since Caridine’s release from state prison in June of that year.
Because the shotgun was found in an area of the home’s basement where Caridine slept he was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon, a parole violation, and sent back to prison. Dolton police processed his arrest and took possession of the unloaded guns, ammunition and drugs.
More than a year later a Cook County judge dismissed the weapons charge and ordered Dolton police to return the weapons and shotgun ammunition to Cole, according to interviews and public records.
But when Cole went to the Dolton police station to pick up the items, he discovered Bankhead had inventoried his shotgun and ammunition – but not the blunts or the early 1900s pistol, which resembles a valuable German Luger but, according to gun experts, is actually an American-made knock-off, worth a few hundred dollars.
Initially, Bankhead told Dolton police officials he didn’t know what happened to the gun.
But Bankhead later changed his story and said he had placed the pistol in a cabinet drawer in the police station, a violation of department policy. The gun was eventually returned to Cole.
The drugs were never found.
This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Andrew Schroedter, with CBS2’s Pam Zekman. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 821-9035.