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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. Let the the Chief do his job
    I am so sick and tired of Alderman Jean-Baptiste “defending” people who break the law. I’m sorry, if you call names to the police and give them the finger, you have no respect for authority. If you are in school and you cross that line and give the finger to a teacher, you suffer the consequences. If the Chief dismissed the complaint, then let it be. Jean-Baptiste continues to cross the line.

    1. Overreach on the local level
      Well, similar to Alderman Fiske’s intrusion regarding the NU deck, I guess this is another overreach by our Alderman.

      I agree – let the Police handle their own affairs. And, that is what we have courts and lawyers for also.

      Again, our Alderman need to stay focused on priorities – city fiscal gap, unfunded pensions, jobs and general development.

      Hmm, overreach – sound familiar with the regime in Washington?

    2. I think freedom of expression
      I think freedom of expression is a phrase to consider here. Respecting authority is not a requirement of citizenship, as far as I know.

      1. Umm….
        So, I should be able to do whatever I please in public regardless of the laws to protect the safety of the public?

        Lack of respect for authority equates to a mayhem.

        Freedom of expression is fine, but has to be tempered by common sense, especially it it affects the safety and well being of the public.

        To be a truly good ambassador of citizenship does require some adherence to authority put in place to for the well being of us all.

        Does common sense not apply here?:)

        1. Common sense is the issue …
          Where was the safety of the public – or the police – in jeopardy in this instance?

          Common sense is the heart of matter. The police didn’t use common sense in harrassing a citizen who was known to them to not be any threat to their safety or the safety of others. Mental illness deserves compassion and assistance not harrassment and abuse from – not just the police – but from any fellow human being.

          Dan – your point would be valid with a different set of facts. Those evident in this case suggest common sense did not apply as it should have.

  2. I appreciate Alderman
    I appreciate Alderman Jean-Baptiste advocacy. If such is a crime,than EDP needs to make arrests around Albany Care where such nudity is common in our community. There is still a need and a greater need for a Citizen Review Board for alleged EDP misconduct..

  3. Evanston beer summit?
    Maybe Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste needs to have a beer summit with Evanston police and the angry guy with no underwear. Alderwoman Judy Fiske can join in the fun.

    It could be a teachable moment.

    Cheers!

  4. Thicker skin
    I think the police at all levels need to be much more thick-skinned. Maybe most of them are. I don’t know. I only hear about the ones that are not.

    I think you should be able to say just about anything you want to a cop.

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