A Rogers Park man today pled guilty to charges of domestic battery and assault, arising out of an incident my staff assistant and I witnessed earlier this month.
Coming on the heels of the arrest of one of the alleged perpetrators of the Devon Avenue shooting thanks to witness information, this guilty plea once again demonstrates the importance of witnesses sharing information with the police.
The incident occurred July 1st on the 1200 block of W. Pratt. My staff assistant, Michael Land, and I were conducting a tour of development opportunities in the ward with employees from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Our van had stopped in front of a vacant lot when Mike and I noticed a man engaged in a heated argument with a woman. The man struck the woman in her face and head with his closed fist and then proceeded to walk away from her.
We called out to the woman, asking if she was ok. Before she could answer, the man turned around and started yelling at us and making threats. He then grabbed the woman by the arm and the two proceeded to walk westbound at Pratt.
We immediately called 911 and instructed the driver of our van to follow the man and woman from a safe distance so that we could describe their precise location to the 911 operator. On several occasions, the man turned to yell at us and threaten us, but we did not respond.
The police caught up with the offender a few blocks away and placed him under arrest. I provided the arresting officers with a complete description of what transpired and offered to sign a complaint. My staff assistant, Mike, did the same.
Unfortunately, as often happens in cases of domestic battery, the woman declined to press charges and denied he had hit her.
Mike and I promised the police we would show up in court and today was the trial date.
Before the trial was scheduled to begin, the man agreed to plead guilty to domestic battery and assault. The judge sentenced him to 18 months of probation and ordered him to perform 20 days of community service with the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP) and attend anger management classes.
Apparently, the man had been arrested on domestic battery charges on two previous occasions, but the cases were dismissed likely because the victim declined to press charges and/or no witnesses were present.
Without witnesses prepared to file a complaint and testify in court, the man almost certainly would have once again escaped arrest and prosecution and likely would have continued his pattern of domestic violence. Instead, he now faces consequences for his violent acts and possibly will even learn how to manage his anger in non-violent ways so that the victim and perhaps other women will no longer endure his brutality.
The quick arrest of one of the alleged perpetrators of the Devon Avenue shooting Saturday was another example of people stepping forward to share information with the police. In that case, witnesses provided police with valuable information that enabled them to take a dangerous felon off the streets.
District Commander Tom Waldera and the detectives working on the Devon shooting have asked me to stress to my constituents the vital importance the public plays in solving crimes and prosecuting wrongdoers. As the Chicago Sun-times noted in its editorial Tuesday, “cooperation with law enforcement can save lives and make neighborhoods safer.”
In the meantime, if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, click here. The Rogers Park-based organization, Between Friends, offers a range of services for victims of domestic violence. Visit their website at:
Make our neighborhood safer. Please get involved.