State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez faces new criticism for taking more than two years to investigate suburban officer who knocked out prisoner – a beating caught on video.
It’s been more than two years since a Lynwood police sergeant cold-cocked a handcuffed prisoner, knocking him unconscious and breaking his nose.
Prosecutors in Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office saw police station video of the altercation soon after it happened the night of Sept. 20, 2013, according to interviews and police records.
Since then a lawsuit has been filed and settled for $500,000. But Alvarez’s office still hasn’t said if Sgt. Brandin Fredericksen should face criminal charges for striking Randolph Holmes, underscoring complaints that Alvarez is slow – or reluctant – to address allegations of police misconduct.
Alvarez is facing calls to resign because she took 400 days to charge the Chicago police officer who killed teenager Laquan McDonald, a fatal shooting that also was captured on video.
Holmes’ attorney James Montgomery Jr. calls the delay in his case “appalling.”
“If my client, Mr. Holmes, had been the one to sock the police officer with his two hands tied behind his back there would have been no hesitation, yet here we are two years later,” Montgomery says.
Fredericksen has admitted striking Holmes but claims he did so to stop Holmes from spitting on him. “I was protecting myself from someone who spit in my face,” he recently told the Better Government Association and CBS2.
Fredericksen says prosecutors have never spoken with him about the altercation, and BGA/CBS2 found that another Lynwood police officer who saw Holmes lying on the ground after he had been hit hasn’t been interviewed, either.
Village officials had no information about the status of Alvarez’s investigation, though Fredericksen says, “The last I heard they looked into it and dropped it.”
Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly says via email that Holmes’ 2014 arrest on an unrelated charge and his filing of a civil lawsuit against Lynwood have “complicated the pace,” though “we strongly dispute allegations that the investigation has taken too long.”
“In recent months the State’s Attorney’s Office has issued subpoenas and continued to gather the information that is required to complete a comprehensive and thorough investigation,” she says. “This case remains open with a final charging decision expected in the near future.”
The BGA/CBS2, as well as the Northwest Indiana Times, previously reported that Lynwood police didn’t immediately investigate Fredericksen and may have even tried to cover up the altercation.
It was only after repeated inquiries from BGA/CBS2 and the hiring of a new police chief that the video saw the light of day and Fredericksen was taken off the street.
Lynwood has since fired Fredericksen. Michael Mears, the Lynwood police chief at the time of the incident, resigned from the department Nov. 23 amid a village review of, among other things, his handling of the Holmes’ altercation.
“My resignation had nothing to do with the alleged cover up in the Randolph Holmes case,” Mears says. “The evidence shows there was no absolutely no cover up.”
Fredericksen, meanwhile, is searching for another police officer position while he appeals his termination “on the grounds that I didn’t use excessive force,” he says.
Holmes, 26, was arrested Sept. 20, 2013, for domestic battery and an outstanding warrant. Using the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, BGA/CBS2 obtained video footage from a surveillance camera inside the Lynwood station that shows Holmes and Fredericksen quarreling in a booking room.
The video also shows Fredericksen shoving the handcuffed Holmes into a door.
Separate footage, shot inside an attached police garage, shows Fredericksen striking Holmes with his arm or fist.
There was no mention of the altercation in the initial police reports, though a supplementary report outlining what happened was filed after the BGA/CBS2 sent a FOIA request to the department.
Alvarez’s office charged Holmes with aggravated battery of a police officer, a felony, for allegedly spitting on Fredericksen, records show.
Holmes pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of resisting a police officer and was sentenced to a year in prison, though the conviction was later vacated.
In September, Lynwood agreed to pay $500,000 to settle Holmes’ civil lawsuit stemming from his beating. He is out on bond awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge for allegedly shooting a 25-year-old man in Ford Heights last December, according to interviews and records.