Internal probe clears cop in ‘racial profiling’ incident


A report to be presented to aldermen Monday clears an Evanston police officer of racial profiling complaints brought by the mother of a 13-year-old boy stopped and handcuffed as a burglary suspect last August.

The investigation, by the police department’s office of professional standards, included interviews with the youth, Diwani Greenwell, and his mother, Ava Thompson Greenwell of 1625 Kirk St., as well as with nearly a dozen police officers involved in the search for the burglary suspect on Aug. 30 and with two civilian witnesses, as well as review of video footage from patrol car cameras and audio recordings of police radio traffic.

On the several alleged violations of departmental procedures against officer Mark Buell, the report either exonerates Buell or finds the allegations unfounded or not sustained.

Greenwell’s attorney, Christopher Cooper, is continuing to pursue a federal court lawsuit against Buell, although he dropped the city as a defendant in the case earlier this week.

Cooper, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, called the city’s report a “cover up by a small-time police agency that really needs to take lessons from the larger agencies on how to stop-and-frisk.”

He says police didn’t have probable cause to detain the youth and violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington, in a memo accompanying the department’s report, said “handcuffing decisions always rely on the officers’ interpretation of facts and circumstances” and that the officers had a “reasonable suspicion” based on the youth’s actions that led to his being handcuffed.

The report notes that as soon as Ava Greenwell, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, emerged from her home she accused officers of racially profiling her son, which Eddington said, “set a tone for a less than positive resolution.”

The chief added that while the department can’t influence the communication skills of members of the public, “we can influence the communication skills of our police officers.”

And to try to enhance those skills, the chief said the department plans to seek the services of Aaron Thompson, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, whose has made several presentations in recent years on race relations issues to police groups in Illinois.

Related story

Lawsuit filed in police stop of 13-year-old

Related document

Meeting packet with the police complaint review report

Editors’ Picks