State’s Attorney Implicated In Cover-up Of Police Brutality

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Some may remember an incident on March 30, 2007 when
Champaign police sent 17 year-old Brian Chesley to the
hospital after an incident in Douglass Park. The claims of
police brutality were dismissed by local officials, and quickly
dropped by the mainstream media, but the case remains
in court. State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, currently up for reelection,
is taking Chesley to court in a trial that could
begin in March for a misdemeanor charge of resisting a
police officer.
Charges were filed five weeks after the incident on May 8,
2007, Chesley’s 18th birthday, consequently assuring he
would be tried as an adult. The current prosecution by Rietz’s
office appears to be an attempt to stave off a civil suit against
Champaign police for excessive use of force. This seems to be
an effort to cover up an incident of police brutality.
On March 30, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Brian Chesley
was walking out of the Douglass Park gymnasium with two
other black youth, a 15 year-old and a 8 year-old, after playing
basketball. The two older boys were walking the younger
one home. Park programs continued until midnight and
park signs (changed soon after) indicated the park was
closed at 9:00 p.m. Champaign police said the park closed at
dusk and they had probable cause to stop the youth. What
happened afterwards is in dispute. Champaign police say
Chesley ran. Chesley says he was grabbed by police, thrown
up against a fence, beaten, and heavily pepper sprayed. An
ambulance had to be called to take him to the hospital.
This occurred the same night as a Democratic fundraiser
at the house of Gina Jackson, Champaign city council representative
of District 1. Local kids came to her front door that
night saying police had just beat up somebody. The alderwoman,
with other members of the local Democratic Party,
walked down the street to find a crowd of frightened youth,
and young Chesley sitting on the curb obviously in pain.
Community members went to Champaign City Council
the following Tuesday night to address what they said was
police brutality. Martel Miller, of VEYA (Visionaries Educating
Youth and Adults), brought Chesley and his mother
to the meeting and pleaded for something to be done. Gina
Jackson said that there must be “zero tolerance” for youth
who do not obey authority.
Attorneys Bob Kirchner and Ruth Wyman have taken up
Chesley’s case and are currently representing him. The
State’s Attorney’s office attempted to make an offer of adult
diversion, which would have required Chesley to accept
responsibility for the incident. Chesley refused the offer. The
trial date will be set in the next hearing on March 3, 2008 at
3 p.m. in Courtroom E.
The Circuit Clerk web site clearly shows the offense date
of 3/30/07 and charges filed 5/8/07, the 18th birthday of
Chesley, 5/8/89:

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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