Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington Thursday said he’s extremely proud of the work officers did in a burglary investigation nearly three years ago that led to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of an officer’s action in detaining a 13-year-old youth as a suspect.

The chief’s remarks at a news conference followed a federal appeals court decision issued last week affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the suit on a motion for summary judgment.

The suit stemmed from an incident on Aug. 30, 2012, when a woman came home to discover a burglar in her house in the 1600 block of Seward Street. After he fled, the woman called police, describing the burglar as a “young boy, African American, [wearing] cargo kahki shorts, dark brown T-shirt or [a] dark shirt.”

Within minutes, officer Mark Buell spotted 13-year-old Diwani Greenwell, an honor student at Chute Middle School, riding his bike a few blocks away from the crime scene and, as the youth arrived at his home, the officer placed him in handcuffs.

Diwani’s parents, Dale Greenwell and Ava Thompson Greenwell at Human Services Committee meeting in 2012.

Diwani’s monther, Ava Thompson Greenwell, saw her son in handcuffs and confronted police. Diwani was released from custody shortly thereafter, after the burglary victim, brought to the scene by police, said he wasn’t the person who’d broken into her home.

A week later Greenwell, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, spoke at a Human Services Committee meeting saying she believed her son had been racially profiled by police, and three aldermen apologized to her for the incident.

Eddington said Thursday that given that a crime was in progress and police had a description from the victim of the burglar, a claim of profiling “goes out the window.”

“When people discuss profiling it becomes a label that is misapplied in many circumstances,” Eddington said.

“If it was four weeks down the road, with no other burglaries, and we’re still stopping 14-year-old kids on bikes, we’re out of bounds. But in the here-and-now of a crime in progress, the profiling issue is moot,”

Two days after the Human Services Committee meeting, police released recordings of police radio traffic during the incident.

The Greenwell’s filed suit against the city and officer Buell later that month.

In November 2012, following an internal investigation that cleared the officer of wrongdoing, police presented an extensive report on the incident with video from squad car cameras to the Human Services Committee, and that month the Greenwell’s attorney dropped the city as a defendant in the suit while continuing the case against Buell.

A federal court judge dismissed the case on Buell’s motion for summary judgment in Feb. 2014.

Last month police charged another man with the burglary after a fingerprint found at the crime scene was matched to him.

Related document

The federal appeals court opinion

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Keep up your great work EPD
    Our police force in Evanston acts with integrity, compassion and professionalism.
    Keep following all procedures, capture the criminals and maintain safety in our community.
    We know you have a difficult job and we appreciate your work.

    1. Profiling?

      Shame on those parents……the police are paid to serve and protect.   If their home had been broken into, and the shoe was on the other foot, it would've been a different story.

      No harm was done to their child, and if it was me being handcuffed based on a description, I would've told the police that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing….instead of trying to suck a monetary settlement out of the city.

      1. Shame on all three of you.

        Shame on all three of you. There is no need to handcuff a child in his own front yard particualry with his mother right there. I really doubt that if they had stopped a white 13 year old that they would have handcuffed him. They would have waited with the child until the complaintent came to see if it was the same person. This is unnecessarily agressive policing. 

        1. Please explain

          You state that the mother was right there. What happened exactly?  

          Perhaps there were words exchanged or actions that indicated that the boy would not remain with the police.  Perhaps the boy and his mother did not utter a word or take any action to leave.  I don't know but it appears that you know exactly what happened during those few minutes. Please explain those facts in detail. 

          You also state that in the same situation involving a white boy and mother, the Evanston police would not handcuff the white boy. Again, you appear to have factual details of which I am not aware. Please inform all of us by providing your detailed facts, such as a police policy or actual instances in which white boys were given a pass. (No names, please, just months and years along with streets and blocks.)

          We would all benefit from learning the factual basis for your assertions. 


          1. Sequence of events

            More detail on the sequence of events that day can be found in the story about the police presentation on the incident to the Human Services Committee and in the police department's written report on the incident.

            They indicate that Diwani was handcuffed in the alley behind the home, and that his mother only encountered the officers after he was handcuffed. He then was taken to the front yard, from where the crime victim, who was in a police squad car, could see him and where she told police he was not the burglar, and he was released.

            — Bill

      2. vindication?
        Why would anyone assume that a court’s ruling actually vindicates anyone?
        Um, O.J.? I hardly think anyone feels his not guilty verdict was any sort of vindication.

  2. police misconduct
    Naffa, really? No harm came to the child? I think my child would be very (emotionally) harmed by being handcuffed by police …. You say you would be just fine if you were handcuffed….I truly doubt that. You should try it some time. Give me your info and I will falsely accuse you of a crime and when the police handcuff you we can all watch you smile and congratulate them on the wonderful job they’re doing. It’s just a real problem in this country that our policing policies are not working. It seems that officers escalate situations a whole lot better than diffusing them. Having lived in 2 other countries I have seen policing done better. WE can do better. My maternal grandfather and 2 uncles were NYC police officers. They are appalled by many police actions. Don’t fool yourself. We have problems with police tactics.

    1. Who should apologize?

      Whether some of you like it or not, the courts have spoken loud and clear based on the facts presented by both the EPD and Greenwell family.

      I understand the court decisions are hard for a few to accept, especially given the national sentiment about police. However, in this particular case the police officers acted within our laws and our police policies here in Evanston.

      It is very clear who should be apologizing. First, the Greenwell family for falsely accusing the officers of racial profiling, bringing about a lawsuit which has cost Evanston taxpayers thousands of dollars.

      It was unfortunate what happened to their son, but this was clearly not racial profiling and therefore not lawsuit worthy.

      Secondly – who were the three Alderman who publicly apologized for the actions of our police officers even before hearing any evidence, they only heard the furious false allegations of Mrs. Greenwell.

      Like many other politicians across our country – Ald. Braithewaite, Ald. Grover, and Ald. Holmes rushed to apologize to the Greenwells while throwing their own police department under the bus.

      No doubt these three elected officials open public apologies led to the Greenwells decision to file suit and try to become a bit deeper in the pockets from us taxpayers.

      Hopefully, our elected officials have learned a valuable lesson and will hold judgement and keep their mouths shut in future similar incidents.

    2. policing

      Sorry to disagree with you and Anon…..and I guess a lot of this depends on a person's maturity and understanding of law enforcement…..everyone knows that police can make errors, but it's no reason to file lawsuits when no harm was done, and it was immediately rectified.

      Suing organizations is not an answer and does not send any kind of moral message to children.

      The ploice were only acting on the person's description….if there were four kids fitting that description, they all would have been stopped.  Does that make the victim open for a lawsuit as well, because they were wrong?  The whole thing gets really silly.

      If a bank was robbed, and the getaway car was the same car that I drive, I would fully expect to be pulled over and questioned.  That's what police are supposed to do.

      The child who got handcuffed is not permanently scarred for life…..his llife wasn't ruined…..he most likely now is more aware of police procedures……maybe there should be a Citizen's Police Academy  for teens, to see how the department works…..and parents should tag along as well.

      Don't raise kids to be thin-skinned, and feeling like they or their parents can sue whoever they want if something goes amiss…and that goes for school teachers as well……if a child thinks that nobody ever makes an error on any issue, then they're going to have a real problem in the real world.

      1. police misconduct
        Naffa, stop telling us the child was unharmed. You are neither this child nor his parent. You have no right to those assumptions. Again, talk to us after you’ve been handcuffed. In fact, talk to us when you’ve been a black male who has been handcuffed. Very different situation.

        1. Harmful or not?
          Having beenhandcuffed for no real reason, I can speak to this…he was unharmed. What may have harmed him was his parents’ refusal to let it go. Constant rehearsal of what happened may have caused fear of police and others in authority. Report says he was released immediately after being cleard by the victim. And besides, he was “caught” in the alley where one might legitimately find a culprit.
          Let the kid get over it!

          1. EPD Does Offer A Teen Citizen Police Academy

            The Evanston Police Department does offer an annual Youth Citizen Police Academy, a free week-long program that gives Evanston teenagers the opportunity to learn about issues affecting law enforcement in Evanston, which took place July 14-18 this year.

    3. Which two countries did you

      Which two countries did you previously call home where the policing was superior and just how would they have handled this matter? The lad was not accused of a crime. He was detained as he very closely matched the dispatched description. And those two uncles of yours (the ones that are appalled), just what would they have done?  Might they just have said "excuse me young man, might you have just burglarized that home?"  and taken his word?  If so, they must have spent their careers behind a desk.

      If ever you are the victim of a crime, please refrain from calling EPD and call your uncles instead. The three of you can sort it out in less "appaling" fashion.

      1. police misconduct
        Canada and Jamaica. Somehow the police in both places just seemed better at diffusing situations than American police officers where screaming and cursing and very rough, hands-on approaches to even minor crimes is the norm. The handcuffing of this boy seems like over kill. The kid and his mother were at their home by that point. Didn’t seem like escape was an issue. I’ve been mugged, burglarized and even once had my dog stolen right from my backyard. It hasn’t turned me into a knee jerk fool who won’t ever admit that better policing is needed in this country. You’re just silly.

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