Prosecution ends case in ex-Joliet cop’s trial
BY JANET LUNDQUIST email@example.com June 25, 2013 1:56PM
Shantique Jackson had these pictures taken with her cell phone at the Joliet Police Station and Silver Cross Hospital following her alleged beating by Officer Tom O’Connor during an arrest Feb. 9. O’Connor was fired for excessive force four days later after internal affairs reviewed the incident. Supplied photo
Updated: July 27, 2013 6:29AM
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday against a former Joliet police officer accused of fracturing a woman’s nose during a beating outside a Jefferson Street motel last year.
Defense attorneys said former officer Thomas O’Connor was using his training properly to arrest an unruly person, making split-second decisions under difficult circumstances.
But authorities said O’Connor, 37, committed a crime when he repeatedly punched the woman in the head and face before handcuffing her. He was charged with aggravated battery, battery and official misconduct and later was fired from the police department.
Testimony in his jury trial began Tuesday in Will County Circuit Court.
Shantique Jackson, 42, claims O’Connor gave her two black eyes, a nasal fracture, a scratch on her eyeball and bruises on her face and scalp on Feb. 9, 2012, in the parking lot of the Star Inn, 2219 W. Jefferson St.
Jackson had called police about 1 a.m. to report a fight with her boyfriend, Anthony Layne. She testified Tuesday that she didn’t have a chance to put her hands behind her back before O’Connor began to punch her in the face.
She said she remembers yelling at Layne while she was being hit that the officer was beating her the way Layne used to beat her.
“I was so used to getting beaten, I knew just to lay down and take the punches,” Jackson said. “I’m the type of lady who’d just lay down and take it and eventually it would be over with.”
Jackson said she was at the motel to see Layne, who was living there, and caught him with another woman.
O’Connor responded to her call, and was there alone until a backup officer arrived after Jackson was in custody, evidence showed. While O’Connor was there, Jackson and Layne, whom attorneys said is a convicted murderer, began to fight again, and Jackson kicked Layne in the groin, according to testimony.
O’Connor then grabbed Jackson, slammed her to the hoods of two different cars in the parking lot and punched her in the head multiple times, a surveillance video, which was played in the courtroom, shows. It also reveals that O’Connor eventually took Jackson to the ground and hit her a couple of more times before he handcuffed her.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Jeff Tomczak, Jackson insisted that she did not try to resist being arrested and said she doesn’t remember much of what happened after O’Connor began hitting her in the head.
A police trainer testified earlier Tuesday that it appeared from the video that Jackson was attempting to pull her arms away from O’Connor. He also said it did not look like Jackson was trying to assault the officer.
Joliet police Sgt. Edward Grizzle, who trains the department’s officers on the use of force, testified that he would advise an officer to take an unruly person to the ground, use pepper spray or a stun gun to subdue them or to step back and wait for back-up.
“It’s not a pretty video. It’s not easy to watch. It’s going to make you cringe,” defense attorney Dan Rippy told jurors in his opening statement. “This is not a matter of a bully. This is a matter of a guy who’s in a situation he’s afraid of. He’s got to get control because if he doesn’t ... in his mind, there’s a chance somebody could get killed.”
The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday.