A Chicago police lieutenant on Thursday became the fourth member of the department to appear in court on felony charges in recent weeks, with prosecutors accusing him of shoving his flashlight into the buttocks of a teenage carjacking suspect, but over his clothes.
Lt. Wilfredo Roman, a 21-year department veteran, faces charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct. He was ordered released from custody on his written promise to appear in court.
The police department said in a statement that after Roman was stripped of his police powers after he surrendered to its internal affairs bureau on Wednesday night. It also said he could face further discipline pending the outcomes of the criminal and administrative investigations.
During the hearing, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mary McDonnell said the alleged assault happened on Feb. 9, shortly after Roman, 44, spotted the teen and another teen inside a car that had been stolen at gunpoint minutes earlier. The pair immediately jumped from the vehicle and ran, with Roman chasing them on foot.
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The suspects were taken into custody by other officers a short time later and, according to McDonnell, Roman shoved the flashlight between the buttocks of one of the teens while he was lying handcuffed on the ground, and said as he walked away, “That's what you get for carjacking.”
In response to a question from Cook County Judge Arthur Willis, McDonnell acknowledged that the flashlight did not penetrate the teen's clothing or skin.
Roman's attorney, James McKay, seized on that point, telling the judge that the teen, whom he described as an armed carjacker, was not injured during the altercation.
“There was no intent whatsoever on Lt. Roman's part to harm or provoke anybody,” McKay said. “Indeed, the carjacker was provoking innocent citizens that night and put the gun to the head of a 48-year-old innocent man who was warming up his car that night.”
According to a proffer filed by the state's attorney's office in the case, the teen has been charged in juvenile court with aggravated vehicular hijacking and the unlawful use of a weapon.
McKay characterized Roman as a highly decorated officer who has never been disciplined or arrested. But, the Chicago Tribune, citing court records, reported that Roman has been sued over allegations of misconduct a number of times. One of the lawsuits was filed by a man who was shot by Roman and at least three other officers during a chase. That case was settled for $200,000.
Roman’s arrest came a day after two other officers, Victor Guebara and Jeffery Shafer, appeared in court on aggravated battery and official misconduct charges after they allegedly beat a teenager they were trying to arrest in January after a car chase. Both of them were ordered released from custody on their written promises to appear in court.
And in early August, Officer Melvina Bogard, who shot an unarmed man as he tried to escape capture by running up an escalator in a subway station last year, was charged with felony counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and official misconduct.