The statute of limitations is a key factor in any court case; it can truly make or break the case as a whole. In the case of Park Ridge Police Commander Jason Leavitt, for example, a Cook County judge ruled that the statute of limitations had run. However, this May, a panel of judges on the First District Appellate Court overruled that judge, and Leavitt is once again facing criminal charges for the alleged beating of two teenagers in 2006.
Today, stories of police misconduct are all over the news, but it is rare to see something that happened ten years ago. One night in October, 2006, Leavitt was driving home from work in his civilian clothes when something shattered his back window. Two teenagers, whose names have not been disclosed due to their juvenile status at the time, had been shooting rocks at passing cars using their slingshots. According to the teens, Leavitt chased them as they ran, catching one and knocking him down. Leavitt then hit one boy in the head, knocking him down, then straddled him and continued to punch him. Another officer removed Leavitt, who then attacked the other teen as he was brought to the police car by more officers.
Both of the teens filed federal suits in 2007, which were settled. Then, in 2009, prosecutors looked more closely at the case, fearing a police cover-up. Later in 2009, two days before the statute of limitations was to expire, Leavitt was indicted by a grand jury in Cook County, and the indictment was sealed. This is where it gets tricky; after this happened, prosecutors investigated the department for 13 months to see if other officers played a part in the alleged beating or in covering for Leavitt. In 2012, the Cook County judge found that the statute had run during that time period, and as such dismissed the charges. The appellate court, however, found that the investigation was a justified delay, that Leavitt’s ability to put on his case was not harmed, and therefore that the statute had not run and the case could continue.
What This Means for Leavitt
That brings us to today. The details of the incident have remained the same over the past ten years, and the teen who was knocked to the ground testified at the trial this May. While his story remains the same, he has admitted that he can not identify the person who assaulted him. He was the only witness to take the stand, though the officer who pulled Leavitt off the teen was petitioned to testify, and so the case is waiting for that to continue, most likely on June 15, 2016.
Contact a Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney
The relationship between police officers and community members is a delicate one. It is built on trust and protection, and when a police officer violates that trust, a community can be thrown off kilter. In this situation, it is important for the officer to be charged and punished accordingly for his behavior. If you experienced any altercation or witnessed police misconduct, contact Barney & Hourihane today to discuss your case with a dedicated Chicago civil rights attorney.