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People v. Thoms





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT J. COLLINS, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Stanley Thomas, police chief of Alsip, Illinois, was indicted on two counts of official misconduct (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, pars. 33-3(a) and 33-3(b)). After a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, he was found guilty on both counts, and he was sentenced to two years' conditional discharge.

The issues are (1) whether defendant was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of official misconduct by failing to forward traffic citations to the circuit court and by failing to collect bond from the offender before releasing him; and (2) whether defendant was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of knowingly performing an act which he knew was forbidden by law when he released a known offender without bond.

Raymond Henry, Jr., testified that at about 1 a.m. on January 18, 1971, he was stopped by a police officer while driving a car belonging to Clarence Schrack. He was then 17 years old and did not have a driver's license. He gave the officer the identification of Clarence Schrack and hid his own identification in his shorts. He was ordered to go to the police station to post bond, where he was also fingerprinted and photographed. He testified that he received tickets for not having a driver's license, improper lane usage, no license plate light, and for not having a vehicle identification number on the car he was driving.

He was subjected to a thorough search, and the police officers found his wallet. The police never advised him of his Miranda rights, but they questioned him with respect to a robbery investigation. He stated that Officer Ross bent his fingers, Officer O'Farrell tapped him on the head with his gun, and he was not allowed to call his father before 7 a.m.

When defendant arrived at the police station, Henry, Jr., told him that the police officers had not treated him properly and had subjected him to police brutality. He also told defendant that he had been kept in his cell until 7 a.m. without being allowed to call his father. After talking to Henry, Sr., defendant told the witness to go home and behave and never asked him about the offenses with which he was charged.

Raymond Henry, Sr., testified that he received a call from his son at about 8 or 8:30 a.m. on January 18, 1971. He was told his son had received several traffic tickets, and he was upset because no one notified him. He had known defendant for over 25 years through a local club, where he and defendant were officers in 1971.

Frank Ross, who was a police officer for the village of Alsip in 1971, testified he stopped a car driven by Raymond Henry, Jr., about 2 a.m. on January 18, 1971, and asked to see a driver's license. Identification in the name of Clarence Schrack was produced, but Ross had arrested Schrack previously and knew the driver was not Schrack. Ross said that he arrested the driver for a traffic violation, and he also knew that failure to have a vehicle number on the car could be a felony. They returned to the station where Henry, Jr., was searched. During the search Henry, Jr., attempted to grab O'Farrell. Ross and O'Farrell both pushed him against the wall and found the wallet in his shorts which identified him.

Ross stated that upon questioning him, Henry, Jr., said he was driving the car for a burglary team which was going to steal tires. Subsequently, another officer arrested an individual and charged him with possession of burglary tools after finding bolt cutters, two jacks, and a spinner-type speed wrench for removing lug nuts from the wheel of a car.

Ross further testified he went to defendant's office at about 10 or 11 o'clock that morning along with Henry, Jr., and his father; and defendant told him that he was going to take care of the matter. Defendant told this witness he had the citations and was going to put Henry, Jr., on a 30-day probation. Defendant never told him that the charges against Henry, Jr., were improper.

Defendant testified he arrived at the station at about 8 a.m. on January 18, 1971, and he recognized Raymond Henry, Sr., from their association at the club. Henry, Sr., told him that his son had been held all night, but he had not been told until a short time before. Defendant talked to Henry, Jr., who told him the police officers had twisted his fingers and hit him on the head with a gun. Upon inquiring of the officers, Ross told him that Henry, Jr., had become belligerent because he did not want to be searched. Therefore, they pushed him against the wall and twisted his fingers. One officer tapped him on the head with his gun while questioning him. Ross also admitted not having called Henry, Jr.'s parents. Defendant told this officer that the police acted improperly and expressed the view that the case was unfounded. Defendant also said he was going to determine what could be done because Henry, Sr., had expressed an intention to retain an attorney. Defendant stated he believed they were treading on "thin ice" by charging Henry, Jr. While defendant thought that Officer Ross had mishandled the situation, he did not seek any sanctions for his conduct.

Defendant further testified he did not order Officer Ross to stop processing the traffic tickets or to release Henry, Jr., and he denied taking the tickets from Officer Ross. He stated it was Officer Ross's suggestion that Henry, Jr., be given probation. Before releasing him, defendant determined that Henry, Jr., was 17 years old; and defendant admitted failing to question him about the charges.

Chris Garrett, chief deputy clerk of the circuit court of Cook County, testified that he searched the transmittal sheets and the court book for certain tickets issued to Raymond Henry, Jr., in Alsip, Illinois, but his records indicated that those tickets had not been turned over to the clerk's office for processing.

Clark Orlovetz, formerly a patrolman and police chief in Alsip, testified that a person arrested for not having a vehicle serial number or for driving without a license would be required to have a court appearance and to post a bond, according to the procedures used within the Fifth Municipal District of the circuit court of Cook County. ...

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