Chicago Officer Who Allowed Racist Verbal Assault Resigns Before Hearing
The Cook County Forest Preserve police officer who was caught on video letting a man verbally abuse a woman, resigned the evening before a hearing investigating the case.
Officer Patrick Connor, 56 and a 10-year veteran of the force, resigned late Wednesday, July 11, the day before he was to explain the incident at an Internal Affairs disciplinary hearing, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Had the hearing not gone well, Connor could have been suspended or fired.
Forest Preserve District Police Chief Kelvin Pope said Connor “should’ve stepped in, and he should’ve done something. I think that’s the reason we’re here today, because he did not,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) July 12, 2018
Apparent Drunken Racist Rant
Connor was videotaped on June 14, while on duty in Caldwell Woods, a park in northwest Chicago and allegedly allowed a belligerent drunk to verbally assault a woman.
The video showed 62-year-old Timothy G. Trybus repeatedly approaching very near to a young woman, Mia Irizarry, who was setting up decorations for a birthday party in a pavilion she had rented from the park.
Trybus, who was intoxicated at the time, approached Irizarry because she was wearing a Puerto Rican flag shirt.
“You’re not an American,” Trybus tells Irizarry. “If you were an American, you wouldn’t be wearing that.”
Trybus later told her “You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”
He then approached very close to Irizarry and demanded “Are you a citizen? Are you a United States citizen? Then you should not be wearing that.”
Irizarry called to Connor, “Officer can you … I am renting this area and he’s harassing me about the shirt that I’m wearing.”
In the video, Connor can be seen walking away.
As Trybus continued to rant, at times getting very close to Irizzary, she continued to ask Connor for assistance.
“Officer, officer? I feel highly uncomfortable. Can you please grab him?”
When Irizarry’s brother interposed himself between the Trybus and his sister—remaining at least 6 feet from Trybus—Connor told Irizarry’s brother to back away.
Irizarry asked why Connor would tell her brother to get back while allowing the aggressive outsider to continue to approach Irizarry and insult her.
Finally an uninvolved bystander, who had been watching the scene unfold, called for more police. When the new officers arrived, they arrested Trybus on charges of misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Effective today, Officer Patrick Connor no longer serves in the police department of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. He resigned late today. But that isn’t where our work ends.
— Forest Preserves (@FPDCC) July 12, 2018
Irizarry posted the video of Trybus’s racist rant and Officer Connor’s lack of response on Facebook, where it attracted huge attention across the country and around the world.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago’s 4th District called the incident a “racist, ugly, vicious attack,” according to the Chicago Tribune. He and his wife sent flowers to Mia Irizarry with a note saying “We are proud of you.”
Gov. Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico responded to the incident on Twitter.
We will be looking into this incident as our offices in DC are in contact with local and state authorities, demanding that this officer be expelled from the police force. He failed to deescalate the situation and therefore did not ensure a citizen’s safety.
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) July 10, 2018
One of his tweets said, “The United States of America is a nation that was built and thrives on diversity. We cannot allow those who do not understand America’s greatness to terrorize people because of their background. This is not the America we all believe in.”
Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. weighed in on July 11, saying Connor should be fired. “He repeatedly let this man approach this young lady, and yet when her brother tried to intervene, he told him to step back,” Arroyo told the Sun-Times.
Cook County Commission President Toni Preckwinkle called Gov. Rossello and offered him her personal apology. She also spoke at a press conference, saying, “The incident in June is completely unacceptable. I apologize to the young woman who had this terrible experience. I am troubled by the initial response by the officer who was on the scene. We intend to use the video in future training exercises for our officers.”
The United States of America is a nation that was built and thrives on diversity. We cannot allow those who do not understand America’s greatness to terrorize people because of their background. This is not the America we all believe in.
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) July 10, 2018
Connor was put on desk duty immediately after the incident, but nothing more was done for almost a month. The hearing scheduled for July 12, nearly a month after the incident occurred, would have been the first official action taken by Cook County officials.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia criticized the district for not acting more swiftly to discipline the officer.
Garcia called Connor’s resignation “a commonsense decision after his inaction and failure to serve Cook County.”
Garcia posted a statement in which he said, “The Puerto Rican community deserves an apology and the young woman deserves justice from the Cook County Forest Preserve and the Cook County Justice System.”
Garcia called on Cook County to review officer training procedures for all county officers and staff as well as a review of disciplinary procedures.
Potential Hate Crime
Garcia further called for the incident to be treated as a hate crime.
“A charge for simple assault or disorderly conduct is not sufficient, this incident must be investigated and charged as a hate crime,” he posted.
Lonnie Nasatir, midwest regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, told the Chicago Tribune that a hate-crime charge might be warranted.
Nasatir, a former Cook County prosecutor, pointed out that under Illinois law, Trybus might be guilty of a hate crime if any of his actions were motivated by his bias against the victim, “From the statements (Trybus) made, and the language used, it’s something that certainly should be seriously looked at to see if the hate crime enhancement is appropriate,” he said.
Since the incident occurred in a public park, it would automatically be upgraded to a Class 3 felony, punishable by between two and 10 years in prison.
The video can be watched online at (https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/2152660761432069/) or (https://www.facebook.com/m.i.a.paperplanes/videos/vb.100000325334212/1909901335697359/?type=2&video_source=user_video_tab)