Our investigation discovered at least 19 East St. Louis police officers named on a recent personnel list have been charged with violent felonies or criminal misdemeanors. It appears that two of those officers are no longer on the force.
We also learned that at least four officers have been convicted of assault or battery. misdemeanors. Seven officers were convicted of DUI, driving on a suspended or revoked license or theft.
In recent years, State's Attorney Bob Haida says he's informed East St. Louis city officials in writing that he was no longer willing to use 15 officers as "essential witnesses" in felony cases. Nine of the officers are still on the "active" roster. In each letter Haida listed the reasons why he wouldn't use the officer. In some cases, his decision was based on an officer's arrest or conviction, in other cases it was due to an officer's conduct during an investigation or prosecution.
The 15th officer to join this exclusive club is Ricky Perry. On Friday, Saint Clair County Judge Annette Eckert ruled that Perry violated the law by taking an illegal statement from murder suspect Josha Custer. The following Monday, prosecutors dropped the charges against Custer. He's now a free man. Haida blamed Perry's "misconduct" for blowing up the only evidence against Custer.
We identified three of the officers Haida refuses to use as "essential witnesses" in our story.
Patrolman Allen Bonds is charged with Aggravated Assault. A witness told police he saw Bonds beating and stomping on an 18-year old man in O'Fallon, Illinois in 2006. The victim nearly died.
Patrolman Lance Murphy was charged with Aggravated Battery eight years ago after another East St. Louis officer filed a complaint that Murphy had hit a man in the head with a gun. The charge was dropped.
A jury convicted Patrolwoman Danielle Moore of Official Misconduct for lying to a state trooper about the identity of her boyfriend. The boyfriend had a warrant for his arrest. Judge John Baricevic overturned the verdict because he believed there was no evidence that proved Moore knew her boyfriend was wanted by police.
In his ruling Baricevic wrote that "this order should not prevent the East Saint Louis Police from disciplining Moore for her intentional lies to another officer. My experience suggests, however, that no action will be taken."
All three officers are still on the force.
It's unclear how the police department has disciplined these officers or how many ccriminal cases weren't prosecuted because of their involvement as "essential witnesses."
I provided copies of some of these records to Mayor Alvin Parks, who shared them with City Manager Robert Betts and Chief Michael Baxton.
Two days ago I got something I didn't expect: a mugshot of Chief Baxton taken 21 years ago at the St. Clair County Jail.
The Mayor and City Manager say they didn't know anything about it. I'm not surprised. When I searched for the case at the Saint Clair County Courthouse there was no public record showing it had ever happened.
When I confronted him with it the Chief repeatedly stated that he didn't have an arrest record and refused to explain why he was in the mugshot.
Sources tell me the Chief, the Mayor and City Manager have been holding a series of closed door meetings trying to get a handle on this scandal. The Mayor and City Manager promise a thorough investigation based on our findings, but these problems have plagued the city police department for many years.
Mayor Parks and City Manager Robert Betts promise a thorough investigation. Betts says the city's investigation is based on our findings. Betts says he plans to review every officer's background and record.