He’s the cop who stood by and did nothing as a woman was verbally assaulted.
And he’ll have to explain why at a disciplinary hearing scheduled for Thursday.
Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer Patrick Connor might find himself in a tight spot trying to make sense of why he remained idle last month as an aggressive, finger-pointing loud mouth berated a woman for wearing a shirt bearing the Puerto Rican flag at the Caldwell Woods Forest Preserve on the Northwest Side.
After the woman posted a 36-minute video of the confrontation on Facebook, edited versions began bouncing around social media platforms. Millions watched the flap, before it reached a critical mass that resulted international headlines and widespread condemnation this week.
At the hearing, Connor will be sworn to tell the truth. He’ll also be required by law to answer questions posed to him by a commanding officer, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said Wednesday.
He’ll be asked to clarify why he didn’t respond to Mia Irizarry’s pleas for help as 62-year-old Timothy Trybus berated her. And why he apparently stopped Irizarry’s brother when he tried to intervene.
A lawyer from the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council — the union that represents Forest Preserve officers — will accompany him at the hearing.
“The video does not look good, but anybody who is a football fan knows that the video does not tell the whole story,” said Tamara Cummings, the union’s general counsel. “We still don’t know what happened outside the video. We don’t know what was going inside his head.”
More officers eventually arrived at the scene of the June 14 encounter, and the woman was able to file a police report.
Trybus, who according to the police report was drunk at the time, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct.
Irizarry told the officers Trybus “approached her and made rude comments” while she was setting up for a picnic, and then Trybus “got in her face while pointing a finger at her,” according to the police report.
At the hearing, Connor — a 10-year police veteran — will not be able to rely upon the Fifth Amendment, which allows a person to refuse to answer questions on the grounds the information could be self incriminating.
The hearing, which will not be open to the public, could be delayed if Connor asks for more time to prepare.
The officer, reassigned to desk duty, has been “very stressed” in the wake of the viral video, Cummings said.
“But he’s very eager to cooperate with the investigation and get the whole story out there,” she said. “I hope people have an open mind. Even officers have the right to a fair investigation.”
After the hearing, Kelvin Pope, the chief of the Forest Preserve police, will decide what disciplinary measures to impose — options that include immediate suspension without pay or termination.
The matter could end up in arbitration.
In the video, Connor watched as Trybus said things like “Are you a citizen? Then you should not be wearing that,” and “I would like to know is she an American citizen? Why is she wearing that s—?”
Irizarry posted the footage to her Facebook page the day of the incident.
“You’re not going to change us,” Trybus is heard saying in the video. “The world is not going to change the United States of America. You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”
On Tuesday, forest police officials promised swift discipline for Connor. And politicians from Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle to Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, condemned his idleness.
On Wednesday, Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. said the people of Cook County, especially his constituents in Humboldt Park, many with Puerto Rican heritage, should settle for nothing less than Connor being kicked off the police force.
“He repeatedly let this man approach this young lady, and yet when her brother tried to intervene, he told him to step back,” Arroyo said.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia joined the a chorus, issuing a statement Wednesday calling for charges against Trybus to be upgraded to 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,” wrote Garcia, who called the pace of the nearly monthlong investigation as “not acceptable.”
Irizarry had rented a forest preserve pavilion to celebrate her 24th birthday and was issued a permit for the event.
When she complained, the folks at the Forest Preserves refunded her money.
And, adding a bit of customer relations to help make things right, the county gave Irizarry zoo passes to the Brookfield Zoo, which is owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
Contributing: Mitchell Armentrout
Source: Chicago sun