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Skokie Accepts Officer Hart's Resignation, After Seeking To Fire Him

Skokie notified Hart, who was charged with felony aggravated battery for seriously injuring a woman in the police lockup, last week they wanted him fired, but the union requires 10 days for him to offer a resignation.

Screenshot of Skokie police surveillance video of an injured Cassandra Feuerstein in a police station cell.
Screenshot of Skokie police surveillance video of an injured Cassandra Feuerstein in a police station cell.

Skokie Police Officer Michael Hart, who was charged with felony aggravated battery and official misconduct after a woman sued him for severely injuring her at the Skokie police station, has resigned.

The Skokie Police Department and Village of Skokie notified him last week they were seeking his immediate termination, according to a statement, but police union rules grant officers a 10-day period to decide whether they want to pursue arbitration. 

The incident, which occurred March 10, came to light in early October, when Cassandra Feuerstein, the woman who was being processed in the Skokie Police Station for DUI, sued Hart and the village, releasing a now-famous video that showed Hart shoving her into a holding cell so forcefully that Feuerstein's cheekbone area hit a cement bench, breaking bones and requiring her to have multiple surgeries and a titanium plate inserted, according to her lawyer. She suffered severe pain and has loose teeth and other ongoing medical problems.

Lawyer: Skokie Cop Victim's 'Face Split Open'

Skokie Officer Hart Arrested, Charged With Felony

Read Full Coverage Of This Story

The village placed Hart on leave after the Cook County State's Attorney charged him with felony aggravated battery and official misconduct charges Oct. 30. 

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Here is the statement the village of Skokie released Nov. 15: 

Village of Skokie and Skokie Police officials announced on November 15 that an officer facing felony assault charges for an on-duty incident has resigned from the force effective today.

Last week, the Village notified Michael Hart that based upon its internal investigation, it would seek to terminate him for violations of Skokie Police Department rules and regulations. This decision was related to his role in an incident where a woman suffered injuries after her March 10, 2013 arrest on DUI charges.

An internal investigation launched following the incident found that Hart violated the Department’s rules and regulations.

As required in the Village’s agreement with the patrol officers’ union, Hart was given ten days to decide whether he would require the Village to file charges seeking his termination or proceed via grievance arbitration. Before that ten-day period elapsed, Hart, a 19-year veteran of the Skokie Police Department, tendered his resignation to the Chief of Police.

Following the filing of criminal charges by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office late last month, the Village stripped Hart of his police powers and placed him on administrative leave. Upon completion of its investigation, Skokie Village Manger Al Rigoni and Skokie Chief of Police Anthony Scarpelli made the determination that his violations of Department rules warranted termination.

This is the first time in decades that a Skokie Police officer has been charged criminally for an on-duty-related incident. It is also the first time in many years that Skokie Police sought termination of an officer for duty-related conduct.

“Police officers have a very difficult, stressful job. We entrust them with the authority to enforce the law and keep our community safe,” said Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen. “However, we also have the expectation that they will treat all people, even those who break the law, with the utmost professionalism. When officers fall short of that expectation, it is our responsibility to take proper action, as the Village has done in this case.”

“While this is an extremely unfortunate incident, I am proud that the Police Department took proper steps to investigate this matter fully in order to get at the facts,” said Skokie Village Manager Al Rigoni.

Local Resident November 15, 2013 at 04:43 PM
We have 1 bad criminal element out of Skokie. I would like to believe that Skokie residents protest of him remaining had a say in this decision. Now Skokie, let's send the old Major home to retirement. And get a dismissal of his old croonies in the Village. We need a fresh start with business professionals who want to run our town to best represent us.
Alexia Soutsos-Abrams November 15, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Justice is served. Thank you!!
Sarah November 15, 2013 at 06:10 PM
I wish everyone in a union job had the option to resign when told they are being fired. Just another reason or loophole to give him his pension.
Stella November 15, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Finally!
Vicki November 16, 2013 at 08:55 AM
Now our town should get reimbursed the money they paid him for almost a year!
Cathy November 16, 2013 at 09:14 AM
Chief Scarpeli needs to resign. The Skokie cops know that Scarpelli cant make a decision unless it is to save his own butt.
Steven M Levin November 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM
AGREE CATHY !!! Scarpelli did nothing until the law suit was filed !!!!! HOW YOU LIKE HART NOW BRIAN RUSSELL ?????? .... just saying
Cathy November 16, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Chief Scarpeli needs to resign. He is in denial to the crime in Skokie and fixates on the "toys", like the new police building and the motor home for the cops. Skokie police need to get tough on crime and get more cops on the street. Scarpeli was hand picked by the good ole boys. His lack of leadership and inability to make a decision has seriously hurt Feuerstein and now has cost a cop his job. The failure is Scarpeli's leadership of the department. Ask any cop on the street and they will tell you that the only time Scarpeli moves fast is to save himself.
Steven M Levin November 16, 2013 at 12:32 PM
If Scarpelli moved so fast, he would have covered his ass on this situation. He did nothing , ... and it may very well cost him his job. Closing his eyes to this incidence was complete neglicgence and incompetence.
Suzanne Shelton November 17, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Interesting that nothing happened for over 7 months until the video of Hart throwing Feuerstein against the concrete bench went viral. People all over the world saw it. Great PR for Skokie, officer.
Steven M Levin November 17, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Interesting ???? It is simply Skokie police ignoring the issue and hoping it would go away. Chief Scarpelli should be fired too !!!
Cathy November 17, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Chief Scarpeli should resign and his entire comand staff demoted. The Village needs a new police chief. The police officers I speak with say that the department has lost its direction since Scarpeli took over and promoted his pals, Peckter and Lopez. Scarpeli's inability to make a decision lets everyone run wild. The Mayor and Manager need to stop pointing the fingers at the others and fix the problem which is the leadership. Scarpeli and Peckter and Lopez all need to resign just like Officer Hart.
Steven M Levin November 17, 2013 at 09:17 PM
They will never resign. They need to be fired !! Resign ??? Are you kidding. Admit fault ? What are you smoking ?
Jordan S. Zoot November 18, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Its a travesty that the Village of Skokie abandons justice in the face of an issue....the officer is innocent until convicted.....maybe they will hire three section 8 hoodrats to replace him on the police force....welcome to Evanston.... :P
Steven M Levin November 19, 2013 at 02:26 AM
Justice is being served Jordan. Hart is gone. Didn't need the microscope to watch video to figure this one out.
IgnorantA November 19, 2013 at 09:52 AM
I think what Cathy is trying to say is that Chief Scarpeli should resign...
Steven M Levin November 19, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Should be fired. And will not resign
Paul Perdue January 06, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Fry Hart.
IgnorantA January 07, 2014 at 09:20 AM
thank you for you insight and timely remark Paul. Well worth waiting 2 months to hear...

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