State's Attorney Acknowledges Need For Background Checks After Trooper Tragedy

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office acknowledges they never sought a high bond for a man who continually floutted the law, eventually killing an Illinois state trooper in a violent head on accident in March. 

That motorist, 44 year old Dan Davies, was a paraplegic who never had a driver’s license and was stopped dozens of times by police. But authorities never took any actions to keep him off the road, despite the fact that he was cited at least three times for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

On March 30th, Davies was blamed for a wrong-way accident on the Tri-State Tollway near Deerfield which killed Illinois State trooper Gerald Ellis. Davies also died in that accident, and Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper said he had a blood alcohol level of .169, more than twice the legal limit. 

Last November, Davies was found slumped over the wheel of his car on an entrance ramp to I-57. He faced multiple felony counts in connection with that incident, but only a $3,000 “I-bond” which required that he post no cash. 

Despite his abysmal court history and continued defiance of the law, prosecutors never sought a higher bond which might have kept him in custody and off the road. A spokesman for the State’s Attorney told NBC5 prosecutors had no access to Davies’ history, because he had not been fingerprinted. 

After the accident which killed Davies and Trooper Ellis, NBC5 Investigates obtained Davies’ court history within a few hours of learning his name, using a database maintained by the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk.  A State's Attorney's spokesman indicated the office uses only a fingerprint background check, because the clerk's database can return an imperfect search due to aliases and other flaws.  The spokesman said the fingerprint check was eventually ordered during a court appearance March 18th.  But Davies was not due in court again until April 3rd---four days after the fatal accident with trooper Ellis.

On Monday, after weeks of repeated inquiries from NBC5, State's Attorney Kim Foxx spoke publicly about the case for the first time. 

“You know, the case is really tragic and unfortunate that we have seen a loss of life,” Foxx told NBC5’s Charlie Wojciechowski at an unrelated event. “I think we have to be mindful and pay attention to each case and look at backgrounds thoroughly, to make sure that as we look at the facts and the evidence and the law, where appropriate in our disposition we have to make sure that we’re doing it right.“ 

In a statement last week, the State’s Attorney’s office noted that Davies appeared for every court hearing. But observers have noted that a higher bond might have kept him in custody and off the road.

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