Two years ago, brothers Kevin and Brian Gaughan filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  The two young men alleged that former Marengo (a small town northwest of Chicago) police officer Scott Crawford used excessive force during their trespassing arrest on Oct. 8, 2004.  They claimed that Crawford handcuffed Brian Gaughan and raised his arms in an unneccesary manner that inflicted undue pain upon him.  In addition, this method of restraint also caused the victim to fall face-first to the pavement.  Mr. Gaughan was a trespassing violator, not a rapist or suspected murderer…no, a measely trespasser.  Was the excessive force necessary?  State police Lieutenant Lincoln Hampton said an internal investigation found no wrongdoing by the Marengo police officer.  Given the findings of the state police, it’s a bit strange that officer Scott Crawford and his partner, Kelly Given, have resigned.  Were the resignations of the officers convenient or did they occur for a particular reason that the public is unaware of? 

Equally disturbing are the actions of the two officers assigned to investigate the reports of the excessive use of force.  State police Special Agents William Kroneke and Virgil Schroeder (the two agents that headed the investigation) have recently been added in a revision to the young boy’s lawsuit.  On Monday, October 2, 2006, an ammendment was filed with the court.  It contends that the two state officers also used excessive brutality in an attempt to persuade Kevin Gaughan to retract his accusations of the Marengo police officer. 

Kevin Gaughan claims he was interviewed by the two state officers at the Marengo police station on Nov. 9, 2004.  Apparently, the two state officers used several “tactics” to frighten the accuser, Kevin Gaughan.  First, they promised to add false burglary charges to Kevin’s existing trespassing charge.  When that had little effect on the young man, officer William Kroneke slapped Kevin with an open hand, striking him across his left cheek.  Seconds later, he was slapped again.  Once the slapping ceased, Virgil Schroeder turned and left the room. 

Fortunately, these allegations aren’t merely the pleas of a frightened young man, with no evidence to back up his claims.  No, Mr. Gaughan has proof, for a recording of the brutality was made via a camera placed inside the interrogation room.  Hopefully, given the evidence at hand, the justice system will prevail and the two officers will be properly reprimanded.  Unfortunately the term “hopefully” rarely translates into “realistically” in these types of situations, for government officials are rarely subjected to the same kind of justice civilians receive.  Instead, they’re given free will to dole out justice that fits their individual accords. 

Can the public ever feel confident that such atrocities may one day cease to occur?  Will law enforcement officers ever be subjected to follow the laws already in place?  Or are people simply expected to allow them to make their own laws as they continue to “protect and serve?”

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