Skokie Places Arrested Cop On Leave, Continues Investigating

Village officials reiterated they are concerned about the woman in police custody who suffered injuries; they may bring disciplinary action against the officer.

After Skokie Police Officer Michael Hart was charged with felony aggravated battery and official misconduct charges Wednesday, Skokie village officials announced they are placing him on paid administrative leave. They plan to complete an internal investigation and may bring disciplinary action, they said.

Earlier: Cook County State's Attorney Charges Skokie Officer Michael Hart In Cassandra Feuerstein case. 

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez' office brought the felony charges against Hart because of a March 10 incident in which he forcibly shoved Cassandra Feuerstein, who was being processed at the Skokie Police Station, into a cement bench, shattering her facial bones and resulting in severe injuries, Alvarez' office said.

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The statement from the village follows. 

Village of Skokie officials today announced that they have placed a 19-year veteran police officer on administrative leave as the Village finalizes its internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the treatment of a woman in police custody for a DUI arrest early this year.

Officials also pledged the Village’s ongoing, continuing support and assistance to prosecutors, who today announced that the officer has been charged with felony counts of aggravated battery and official misconduct for his role in the March 10 incident, which took place at the Skokie Police Department Headquarters.

“We have said before that the Village is deeply concerned about the injuries suffered by a woman in the custody of the Skokie Police Department,” said Skokie Village Manager Al Rigoni. “That’s why we initiated an immediate internal investigation to get at the facts of this case. The Village and the Police Department provided exemplary assistance to Cook County prosecutors as they investigated this case. Now, with the completion of the state’s investigation and decision to file charges against the officer, we are able to complete our internal investigation before determining disciplinary action.”

The officer, who had been assigned to desk duty during the ongoing, internal investigation, has been relieved of his police powers and is currently in a paid- leave status in accordance with applicable employment laws and pending completion of the Village’s internal investigation. Village officials said they would complete their investigation and take appropriate action. The complainant has since plead guilty to a charge of DUI.

In a letter sent to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez last week, the Village requested that her investigators complete their investigation in a timely manner so as not to further delay the Village’s own internal investigation.

“We are pleased that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office moved ahead with this matter because it allows us to also proceed in a way that is fair and brings a timely resolution to this unfortunate incident,” said Rigoni.

This is the first time in many decades that a Skokie police officer has been criminally charged as result of any duty-related activity.

“I am proud of the work the Skokie Police Department does every day. Our officers perform a difficult job extraordinarily well,” said Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen. “I am even more proud of the strong relationship our officers have developed with the residents they are sworn to protect. It is every officer’s duty to treat members of the public professionally and respectfully. The Village will complete its review shortly and take appropriate actions.”

Sarah October 30, 2013 at 03:30 PM
The village needs to stop covering for this policeman. If the cook county arrested him why is the village giving him a paid leave. More taxpayers dollars going to waste.
Jackie Brown October 30, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Correct Sarah, and the mayor is a liar as well as the cops whom tried to cover this story up. Skokie does a internal investigation now when the SA picks the case up. It happened in March and this is almost November, why was a internal investigation done months ago? We have a corrupt village and officials is the reasoning. Until there is a overhaul at the highest level of local government down to the officers who helped defend and cover this up, Skokie residents will not regain the trust that continues to be violated. I have lost all faith in local government. We employ and pay criminals and can't accept the words from local leadership as truth. I hope coward hart is prosecuted to the fullest of the law, given prison time and gets his ass kicked repeatedly by his prison room mates .
Jackie Brown October 30, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Major george you have nothing to be proud of with the behaviors of yourself and spd. You should feel shame and disgraced at the fact Anita Alvaraz and SA office interceded to pursue charges. I am sure you would have been as happy as you are now to continue to give away taxpayers money to that coward hart. His paid leave is a total disrespect for Skokie residents. You as well needs to stripped of your duties of local government, you are not performing them. Downtown is still in shambles, Skokie looks rundown and this has happened in the last few years. You lie about the crime rate decreasing yet the local news is filled daily with crimes. How much will it take for residents to buy you out of office, you are only hanging in for the money and pension anyway. It will be cheaper to buy you out than pay off multi millions lawsuits. This happened march 10, I am sure you were well aware, so was the chief, hart should have been out of here on March 11. He will cost us millions and he is not a Skokie tax payer. That's due to not having mandated residency policies. You will let us pick up the tab, are we paying for his legal defense also, I will be happy to pay for the gas for you the chief your village manager and every other slacker in the Village to leave town. You are not servicing our best interest.
ko October 30, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Business as usual in government. You know what they say - money is the root of all evil. It strips people of their moral compass. What seemed like a simple case of police brutality was swept under the rug by the police dept, the mayor's office and the county. All in the name of saving a buck over doing the right thing. Inevitably though, that mentality results in aggravating the situation. When will they learn? Sadly, lawyers are the only ones who win.
Jackie Brown October 30, 2013 at 05:39 PM
That is the 1 word that Skokie has not used in this case, police brutality. The denial of this incident, as it is referred as, is indeed police brutality! So sadly, this victim will have lifelong scares and suffrage. To read that a titanium plate is in her face, and her teeth are loose, the money will help cover her medicals for treatments in her future. The right thing would have to not commit this violent act, hart had no right to put his hands on this woman. His mentality of feeling privileged due to his police powers is the blame for this. The after effects are due to the Village.
Cathy October 30, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Chief Scarpeli needs to be removed. He condones this type of action. Both Deputy Chief Lopez and Pecter should be demoted. It is time for a change in Skokie.
shp October 30, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Seriously, the Village has been investigating this case since March and it is October. Only when a lawsuit was filed by the victim, an activist held a press conference, and the States Attorney got involved did this come to light. I am horrified of the actions of this Village. The Village Officials have finally shown the world their true colors. Who knew what and when! Time for a serious change in Skokie leadership. I'm proposing that the recently elected Village Mayor and trustees be recalled immediately. In addition to the Police Chief and Officer Hart being fired! This is a huge scandal!
Local Resident October 30, 2013 at 08:21 PM
I agree with you shp ,the mayor and his croonies need to be outed immediately! What can residents do to get them the hell out of office ? From the Chief up, all the chain of commands need to be broken. There is no leadership in Skokie only dishonest wise guy types with multitudes of blant lies. This is a disgrace to hardworking taxpayers and citizens of Skokie. That gawky fort of a police station, wanting a military tank style tanker driving around busing up the already ruined streets. What has happened to Skokie ? There is no feeling of community, no feeling of safety, thugs and punks in police uniforms. So we watch Hart go through the motions, but i doubt he will get jail time. One thing is for certain, Skokie will pay big for this. The crime is out of control, we want to look at the positives, but where it is I can"t see. We need officials dedicated, living in town and experiencing the daily issues as we do. That brings about change. Skokie has become the town with a mall, a few McDonalds, gas stations, 7-Elevens and the expressway to get the hell on. Under the current leadership some of that will be lost. Who will stick around when their place of business are robbed often. How much longer can we stay locked up in our homes to avoid being victims.
Concern Citizen October 30, 2013 at 10:25 PM
I agree with you all, and who gonna pay for this of course us the taxpayers. And I heard this morning one of the son of the three fatality accident in Glenview by a Skokie Garbage truck filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Village of Skokie. Wow, that's another taxpayers expending dollar for the cause of irresponsible employee of the Village. tsk! tsk! We have to remember this on next election day we need a NEW mayor and officials for a change.
Frank October 30, 2013 at 10:47 PM
You saw where that got us in the last election...people votes for the status quo...stupid. I hope there is insurance to cover some of these legal actions, or as usual the poor tax payer takes another one on the chin. So to all you dopes who voted for status quo this is what you get.
Steven M Levin November 05, 2013 at 08:41 AM
Chief Scarpelli should be fired too !! He did nothing after a person in custody leaves via ambulance. Doesn't take 6 months for an investigation. They did nothing hoping this went away. Why wasn't hart put on desk duty in March pending investigation ??


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