An Evanston alderman last night suggested a police officer may have over-reacted last year when he arrested a man for public nudity across from police headquarters.
The 40-year-old man on his way to an early-morning alcoholics anonymous meeting on March 20, 2009, was stopped by an officer after he made insulting remarks toward three officers while walking down the block and "flipped the bird" at the officer who stopped him.
The officer told the man to put his hands on a squad card.
When the man complied, his pants fell down, revealing that he wasn’t wearing any underwear.
The officer then arrested him for public nudity, and for spitting on the sidewalk.
The man filed a complaint over the arrest. After interviewing the man, the officer and a witness, and reviewing a security camera video of the incident, Police Chief Richard Eddington dismissed the complaint as unfounded.
The officer’s supervisor said the complaintant has a long history of engaging in confrontations with the police and is under treatment for psychiatric disorders.
When the Human Services Committee conducted its monthly review of police complaint cases Monday night, Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said policing shouldn’t be about "opportunistically seizing the moment. ‘Oops, his pants dropped, so let me charge him with something.’"
"I don’t think that’s the best approach to serving the community," Jean-Baptiste said.
Jean-Baptiste and Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, suggested the city may need to clarify its ordinance on public nudity, which now makes it a violation for anyone "to appear in a public place in a state of nudity" without regard to the person’s intent.
The criminal charges against the man were dropped when the officer failed to appear in court, and the report says the officer was given a one-day suspension for that oversight.