FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — An independent, third-party investigator retained by the City of Freeport to investigate complaints made by three men following a June 9 incident outside FHN Hospital has found no evidence of misconduct on the part of Freeport Police officers. The report does recommend, however, that the Department explore policies and procedures with respect to how to manage incidents involving individuals who are hospitalized or requiring medical attention while in custody.
“While the independent investigation made no findings of misconduct regarding this incident, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from it and as a community, we will,” said Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow.
Upon reviewing the completed report, Freeport Chief of Police Todd Barkalow recommended this week that the full report be shared with members of the Freeport Fire and Police Board of Commissioners.
“An incident of this scale deserves one more layer of review before we take any final action. That’s why I decided to forward the report to the Freeport Fire and Police Commissioners. We owe it to both the complainants and the officers to be as thorough as we can be when gathering all the information related to this event.”
The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners can accept the findings of Chief Davis’ report and take no action. Or, it can hold a hearing to gather additional information or for the purposes of further investigation.
The City of Freeport retained Mitchell Davis, who currently serves as Chief of Police in Hazel Crest, Illinois, to conduct an independent investigation into complaints that were filed by three men following an incident on June 9 where they were arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Mr. Davis completed his investigation last week. Today, the City of Freeport notified the three complainants of the investigation’s findings and made the full report public.
“This incident, and the attention it has garnered, has definitely challenged our city and our police department. It is always our expectation that officers are always looking out for the safety and well-being of all residents whom they encounter,” said Crow. “With the investigation now complete, we are eager to share the report with the public to give a more full, accurate and objective account of what took place on June 9. This was a unique circumstance for us and our work to learn from this incident and continue the dialogue with the community we serve will continue.”
Crow also noted that he has reached out to Freeport business, civic and faith leaders to keep them apprised of the status of the investigation and its findings. He invited leaders and all members of the public to review the report and share any comments or concerns with the City.
Mr. Davis received full assistance and cooperation from the Freeport Police Department, which provided all body camera footage and documentation related to the incident. Additionally, every member of the Freeport Police Department that was involved in the incident provided information to Chief Davis via one-on-one interviews.
Chief Davis noted in his report that FHN Hospital officials were cooperative, providing video surveillance footage and making hospital personnel available for interviews.
Chief Davis also pointed out numerous times in his report that none of the three complainants, Shaquille Dukes; Marqwandrick Morrison; or Credale Miles, were interviewed because each failed to attend two previously scheduled appointments. Because none of the complainants agreed to be interviewed, Mr. Davis relied solely on other documentation of the incident to complete his investigation. That documentation included video footage, written complaints, incident reports and interviews from police and hospital officials.
The report does not address the appropriateness of the arrest and charges (Mr. Dukes on charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, Mr. Morrison on charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Mr. Miles on charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and resisting arrest) and states that is up to the courts to determine. However, the report does refer to how Mr. Dukes’ medical incident in the squad car was handled as a “teachable moment” for the Police Department.
The full report, which the City released today via its website, also found the following:
• Officers should have considered removing handcuffs from Mr. Dukes after he had expressed to them that he was in medical distress while being transported from the scene to the Freeport Police Department.
• An off-duty FHN Hospital security employee first witnessed Mr. Dukes, Mr. Miles and Morrison off of hospital property and notified FHN security. Freeport Police were called when an FHN security official felt threatened by the three men who were approaching him in an “aggressive manner.”
• No hospital official gave Mr. Dukes permission to leave hospital property.
• Mr. Dukes initially had agreed to return to the hospital on the advice of Freeport Police officer Christopher Fidecki. However, when hospital personnel notified Mr. Morrison and Mr. Miles[they] would not be allowed to re-enter the hospital, the three men became, according to the report, “increasingly irate.”
• Mr. Dukes, upon deciding he would not return to the hospital, attempted to remove the IV from his arm. A nurse supervisor responded to the scene and told Mr. Dukes he was not given permission to leave the hospital. Additionally, an emergency room nurse responded to the scene and removed the IV from Mr. Dukes’ arm at his request.
• Upon his arrest, Mr. Dukes’ inhaler was removed from his pocket and placed in the front seat of the squad car which was transporting him to the Freeport Police Department. It was returned to him following his medical episode when he communicated to an officer that he was having trouble breathing.
• Neither the report, nor the three citizen complaints, make mention allegations of inappropriate use of physical force. Body camera footage and interviews indicated that officers made no remarks to any of the three arrestees that could be interpreted as racially inappropriate or insensitive.
“Managing an incident that has attracted intense scrutiny has challenged us, to be sure. But it is vital that Freeport residents know the importance we place on strengthening the relationship between the police and the people we serve,” said Chief Barkalow. “Building relationships with all residents based on trust, understanding and mutual respect is something we focus on every day.”
Freeport Police Department Independent Investigative Summary
Shaquille Dukes, Marqwandrick Morrison, Credale Miles
Mitchell R. Davis III — On June 20, 2019, I was contacted by phone by Chief Todd Barkalow and Deputy Chief Matthew Summers of the Freeport Police Department. Chief Barkalow informed me that I had been recommended to him by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police’s Executive Director as someone that would be good to conduct an independent investigation pertaining to a situation that had arisen in Freeport, IL. After hearing from City Manager Lowell Crow, it was determined that I would conduct the desired independent investigation. I was informed that the desire for an independent investigation arose as a result of the arrests of Shaquille Dukes, Marqwandrick Morrison, and Credale Miles on June 9, 2019 in the area of the FHN Hospital. Since their arrests
on June 9th, Dukes, Morrison, and Miles have shared their version of the story with the news media and on social media accompanied with allegations of racial profiling. On June 18th Dukes, Morrison, and Miles filed formal citizen complaints with the City of Freeport, City Manager Lowell Crow.
I requested and received copies of incident reports from the June 9th arrest. I also requested and received copies of all bodycam footage from officers that were involved in the incident. I also received copies of the formal citizen complaints that were received by the Freeport Police Department from Dukes, Morrison, and Miles. I also was able to view FHN Hospital security surveillance video.
Arrangements were made by Chief Barkalow and City Manager Crow for me to come to Freeport on June 21, 2019 and interview Sergeant Jeff Zalaznik, Officer Christopher Fidecki, Officer Dan Moore, Officer Justin Holden, and Officer Brandae Hilby. Arrangements were also made with Security Supervisor Quincy Carter of FHN Hospital to meet with Security Officer LeDarius Stuart and Security Officer Ryan Godsil. Chief Barkalow and City Manager Crow also confirmed with Dukes, Morrison, and Miles that they would meet with me at the Freeport Police
Department at 1:30pm on that same day.
Upon arrival to Freeport, I met with Chief Barkalow and City Manager Crow. I was advised that all interview appointments were confirmed for the day. I first went to FHN Hospital and met with Security Supervisor Carter and the hospital Public Information Officer Marilyn Smitt.
Security Officers Stuart and Godsil sat with us individually and gave their verbal accounts of the series of events that took place outside the hospital on June 9th involving Dukes, Morrison, and Miles. PIO Smitt also showed me video footage of the incident that had been posted on Dukes’ Facebook page. Security Supervisor Carter and Security Officer Steve Gearing proceeded to show me the hospital security video footage related to the incident on June 9th. When asked if Dr.
Dan Murphy was available for an interview, it was discovered that he would not be back in the hospital for another week. Security Supervisor Carter reached out to Dr. Murphy by phone and showed me a narrative that the hospital had generated, which included a statement from Dr.Murphy advising that at no time had he given Dukes permission to walk outside the hospital.
July 3, 2019
I then returned to the Freeport Police Department and was able to obtain verbal accounts of the incident from Sergeant Jeff Zalaznik, Officer Christopher Fidecki, Officer Dan Moore, Officer Justin Holden, and Officer Brandae Hilby.
At 1:30pm neither Dukes, Morrison, nor Miles arrived at the Freeport Police Department. At some time between approximately 1:30pm and 2:00pm Chief Barkalow had his staff attempt to contact Dukes by phone but got no answer. At some time after making the phone call to Dukes, Deputy Chief Summers went by Dukes’ residence and was unable to locate them there either.
When I departed Freeport at 3:00pm, none of the complainants had been seen nor heard from. On Monday, June 24th, I received a phone call from Dukes. We agreed upon arrangements for Dukes to meet with me on Tuesday, June 25th at 8:00am to give his version as to what transpired during the arrest. Dukes informed me that he would have Morrison and Miles with him so that they could also be interviewed. It should be noted that I informed Dukes that I was doing an independent summary of the incident that took place and that the Freeport Police Department
may also be doing their own investigation into the matter. Dukes confirmed our location and time for the meeting and agreed that they would be in attendance. Neither Dukes, Miles, nor Morrison showed up for the appointment, and I have not heard anything from Dukes since we confirmed the appointment.
Based on the examination of written reports, bodycam footage, hospital video footage, and interviews, I am providing a summary of events that took place in the area of FHN Hospital initiated during the 4pm hour on June 9, 2019.
In the 4pm hour of June 9th, three subjects, later identified as Shaquille Dukes, Marqwandrick Morrison, and Credale Miles, could be observed on FHN Hospital security cameras walking the hallways of the hospital. After walking through various hallways, they could be observed exiting the hospital through a doorway that was not manned by security personnel. Dukes was dressed in a hospital gown, had an IV in his arm, and was pushing the IV pole and machine that was connected to the IV. The door is located on the north side of the hospital and placed them in the area of Stephenson Street.
The group can then be observed walking to Stephenson Street and then proceeding eastbound. As they were proceeding eastbound on Stephenson Street, Security Officer Steve Gearing could be observed on hospital security camera driving westbound on Stephenson Street in his personal vehicle and parking in a lot on the north side of Stephenson Street. During my interview with Security Officer Gearing, he advised that he was driving past the hospital while off duty and saw a patient walking down the street in a gown and with an IV pole who was with two other subjects dressed in street clothes. He advised that he knew that it was against hospital policy and pulled over to call hospital security to let them know what he was observing. As Security Officer Gearing was making his phone call, he observed a subject who he describes as the short subject with regular street clothes (Credale Miles) walk to the north side of Stephenson Street and start smoking “a large object”. Security Officer Gearing advised that he thought the object was a blunt (an outer cigar wrapping filled with cannabis). Security Officer Gearing then observed Miles go back to the south side of Stephenson Street and hand the object that he was smoking to Dukes, who then began to smoke it. Security Officer Gearing then observed the group continue to walk eastbound on Stevenson Street. As the group approached the intersection of Stephenson Street and Whistler Avenue, they crossed to the north side of Stephenson Street and then turned around and came back to the south side of Stephenson Street. Security Officer Gearing then saw the group proceed eastbound across Whistler Avenue, where they were met by Security Officer Ryan Godsil. The route that Security Officer Gearing described as being taken by the group could be verified by hospital security surveillance cameras.
Security Officer Ryan Godsil advised that he was entering a security vehicle to start his patrol of the perimeter of the hospital and examination of other hospital buildings. As he backed the car out of its parking space in a northward direction in the parking lot, he could observe an IV pole moving eastbound on Stephenson Street. The parking lot is elevated above the street and sidewalk, so he was not able to fully see the person pushing the pole. The security vehicle can be observed on hospital surveillance camera stopped in the direct line of sight of where the group
was walking. As the group went across Stephenson Street and doubled back, the security vehicle could be seen on surveillance camera exiting the hospital parking lot onto Whistler Avenue and proceeding to the intersection of Whistler Avenue and Stephenson Street.
Security Officer Godsil advised that he drove up to the three subjects and advised them that they were not allowed to be outside the hospital and walking down the street in a hospital gown with an active IV. Godsil advised that as he spoke to the group, they approached him in an extremely hostile and aggressive manner. He advised that the group became irate and began to curse and yell at him as he stood next to the security vehicle. Godsil radioed his security base and informed them of what he was dealing with, and as the situation escalated, he asked that they call police to
respond. (This segment had no bodycam or video to validate the content of the interaction.)
Officer Christopher Fidecki was the first to arrive at the scene, and his bodycam was activated. As he exited his vehicle on Whistler Avenue, he was immediately approached by Shaquille Dukes. Dukes immediately began explaining how upset he was that Godsil had approached him and his brothers. Dukes expressed to Officer Fidecki that he would have been justified in shooting Godsil if he would have had a gun, due to the fact that Godsil had a taser on his belt. Dukes advised that Godsil had accused him of attempting to steal the IV stand from the hospital, but Dukes insisted that he had been given permission by his doctor, Dr. Murphy, and nurse Jenn to walk around outside the hospital with the IV. After listening to Dukes’ explanation and some additional conversation, Officer Fidecki was able to convince Dukes to return to the hospital. As they began to walk back to the hospital, Security Officer Godsil informed Miles and Morrison that they would not be allowed back into the hospital due to their disruptive behavior. After hearing this, all three men became increasingly irate and Dukes then decided that he was not going to return to the hospital. Dukes also began to try to remove the IV from his arm and announced that he would be filing a lawsuit against the security officer and the police officers at the scene. Nurse Jenn was contacted while officers were on the scene and she advised that Dukes had not been given permission to leave the hospital. The nursing supervisor for the hospital responded to the scene and informed officers that patients were not allowed to leave the hospital unsupervised. An emergency room nurse also responded to the scene and removed the IV from Dukes’ arm. Officers on the scene, and even Dukes on several occasions, repeatedly asked Miles
and Morrison to calm themselves. After continuing to interfere, Miles was taken into custody.
Dukes was taken into custody next, and after Security Officer Godsil advised that he wanted to sign complaints against Morrison also, he was taken into custody. While being transported to the Freeport Police Department, Dukes had a medical emergency and had to be transported back to the hospital. While he was at the hospital, Dr. Murphy confirmed that he had not given Dukes permission to leave the hospital. After Dukes was treated, he was
transported back to the Freeport Police Department for processing.
Dukes alleges in his complaint that he was subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment under the direction of Sgt. Zalaznik.” Because Dukes has failed to keep all appointments for interviews with me, I am unable to determine what exactly he is referring to when making this allegation.
He does state in his complaint that he was arrested in spite of making officers aware that he was still in need of medical treatment by the hospital. I was unable to find anything that showed Dukes telling officers that he needed to remain at the hospital. The video footage from the incident actually shows Dukes’ refusal to return to the hospital. Officers also had to plead with him not to remove his IV from his arm. Later, when Dukes was in medical destress, Sgt.Zalaznik was not at the scene, but after being made aware of the situation over the police radio, he instructed officers to make sure that Dukes was taken out of the squad car in an effort to help him during his medical emergency. Dukes also stated in his complaint that officers “seized” his inhaler and wouldn’t give it to him until paramedics came. Bodycam footage from Officer Justin Holden shows Officer Holden taking Dukes’ inhaler from his pocket and telling Dukes that he was taking it so that it didn’t fall out of his pocket and get lost behind the seat in the back of the squad car. Officer Holden instructed Dukes that he was placing the inhaler on the front seat of the car during the ride to the station. I was unable to substantiate Dukes’ complaint of cruel and
It should be noted that while I don’t believe that it rose to the level of cruel and unusual punishment and I don’t know where it falls within Freeport PD’s policy and procedure, but I believe that Officer Holden and officers present during Dukes’ medical episode should have considered unhandcuffing him while he was in distress. Officer Holden did immediately call paramedics to respond to assist Dukes, but it wasn’t until Officer Brandae Hilby arrived that she responded to Dukes’ cries that he couldn’t breathe, after which she got the inhaler from Officer Holden and allowed Dukes to utilize it. This did provide Dukes with some relief. This should serve as a teachable moment.
Dukes also alleges in his complaint that he was falsely arrested under the direction of Sgt. Zalaznik. Dukes was charged with Disorderly Conduct. That charge given because Security Officer Godsil wished to sign complaints, which Godsil confirmed with me. It is not my opinion that Dukes was falsely arrested.
In his complaint, Morrison gives a summary of the incident and his subsequent arrest, but he does not say what his actual complaint is about the situation. Morrison did admit in his citizen’s complaint that he used words that he “shouldn’t say to any human being” but advised that he did so because he was “livid”. Because Morrison never showed up for either scheduled meeting, I have been unable to find out what his actual complaint is relating to the incident. Morrison was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Resisting/Obstructing. The Disorderly Conduct complaint was at the request of Godsil. Bodycam also shows officers attempting to take Morrison into custody, but Morrison refusing to cooperate. It was only after officers threatened to spray Morrison with pepper spray, he finally complied.
In his complaint, Miles immediately accuses that Sgt. Zalaznik of being a racist and advises that he dealt with the sergeant a few days earlier during a call for police service by Miles’ previous employer. Miles alleges that Sgt. Zalaznik used animosity from that previous incident as a reason to have him arrested. Sgt. Zalaznik’s bodycam shows that Miles was already in custody and in the squad car when he arrives at the scene, so Sgt. Zalaznik had nothing to do with Miles being taken into custody. Miles was charged with Disorderly Conduct, complaints were signed by Godsil, and Resisting/Obstructing. Miles also neglected to show up for both interviews that I had scheduled for him. It is my opinion that Miles’ allegations against Sgt. Zalaznik are unfounded, as Miles was taken into custody by other officers prior to Sgt. Zalaznik’s arrival to the scene.
Though Miles alleges that Sgt. Zalaznik is racist, he makes no specific reference to racially biased behavior by anyone involved with this incident.
I was not able to find anyone from the hospital that could confirm that Dukes was given permission to go outside of the hospital. Dr. Murphy and Nurse Jenn both advised that they never gave Dukes permission to leave the hospital at any time. Dukes repeatedly states that when they were stopped, that it was his second time outside walking around the hospital that day. Examination of security footage from the hospital surveillance system for that day did not show Dukes outside on any other occasion on that day. I have seen news media and social media that alleges that racial profiling was the reason Dukes, Morrison, and Miles were stopped. I was not able to substantiate this alleged accusation. Dukes was walking outside the hospital in a hospital gown with an active IV in his arm, which is against hospital policy. Security Officer Godsil would have been negligent in his duties had he not stopped to inquire into what Dukes was doing outside. As to whether Security Officer Godsil asked if Dukes was stealing the equipment to sell on eBay as Dukes alleges, I was not able to substantiate this statement. But, I was able to find IV equipment like the one that Dukes had on that day for sale on eBay for as much as $400, so the concept and alleged statement is not so extreme as it is being suggested. Though allegations of racial profiling have been seen in the media and on social media, no such allegations were made on any of the formal citizen complaints that were filed in conjunction with this incident. I was not able to find anything related to racial profiling as the cause for contact with anyone involved in the incident. Again, Dukes, Morrison, and Miles did not keep either of the two appointments that they had with me to give their version of what transpired. Any reference to their accounts of the incident are based on bodycam footage, surveillance video, written reports, and their submitted written citizen complaints.
The citizen complaints in this incident were primarily directed at Sgt. Zalaznik and questioned the validity of their arrests. There were no allegations listed in the citizen complaints of any brutality, overall unprofessional behavior, or specific racial bias, though Miles did call Sgt. Zalaznik a racist. All three arrestees were primarily charged with Disorderly Conduct. While the courts will determine the weight of the case from a criminal aspect, Security Officer Godsil was in fear during his initial interaction with Dukes, Miles, and Morrison that it was escalating to a level of him possibly being harmed, so he called for the police. After interviewing Godsil and seeing on video the hostility being directed at Godsil by Dukes, Miles and Morrison even with several police officers standing nearby, I believe had he genuinely felt fear. During one exchange on bodycam footage, Dukes points to Godsil and talks about “where he comes from” and how he doesn’t care about anyone having a badge or a gun. Godsil wanted to proceed with complaints for Disorderly Conduct and the officers imposed the respective charges. After initially agreeing to go back into the hospital, Dukes eventually refused and went so far as to attempt to remove his own IV. With what was provided to me to examine, I was unable to substantiate any of the allegations that were listed in the citizen complaints in this matter.
This report was provided to the Freeport Police Department solely as an independent personal and professional opinion about the above incident, based on what material I was given and interviews that I was able to conduct. I will state, yet again, that neither Dukes, Morrison, nor Miles, showed up for two scheduled appointments to meet with me to give their personal version of the story. The sources of video footage and their written complaints were used for anything pertaining to them.